The Venus Executive Team

Sassie Duggleby

CEO
Sassie Duggleby is the CEO and co-founder of Venus Aerospace. Before launching Venus, she was Launch Systems Engineering and Mission Management Consultant at Virgin Orbit, where she also developed and tested launch software and telemetry systems, helping to launch rockets from the wing of a 747. She has spent her career growing multiple high tech startup businesses including fiber-optic test (Luna Technologies), biotech (Ecolyse / Phage Biocontrol), and hazardous trailer manufacturing (Exosent). Engineer and MBA, serial deep tech entrepreneur who is passionate about women in tech. Recently created the “Bada$$ Women in Aerospace” networking group. Mom of two, avid lover of outdoor activities. Named herself Sassie at 2 and it stuck.

Andrew Duggleby

CTO
Dr. Andrew Duggleby is the CTO and co-founder of Venus Aerospace, a U.S. Naval Officer and an engineering professor. Before launching Venus, he was head of launch operations at Virgin Orbit where he led operational planning, mission control, telemetry, ground equipment, launch infrastructure, and payload operations teams. He also led a team of engineers and technicians to hotfire the first dual-mode 3D print (DMLS printed and DED cladded) rocket engine, in collaboration with NASA MSFC. Dr. Duggleby was a Mechanical Engineering Asst. Professor at Virginia Tech and Texas A&M. He founded Exosent Engineering with a former student, making ASME-rated hazardous transport trailers, and exited in 2015 to pursue his space passion. A Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he has multiple deployments to Japan (shipyard repair), and multiple commanding officer tours of US-based reserve maintenance units. Would love to get more PhDs but his wife won’t let him.

Brent Lytle

COO/PM
Brent Lytle brings more than 20 years of aerospace experience to Venus: from rockets (Kistler K-1, Virgin Orbit), to human spaceflight (Blue Origin capsule), to satellites (Millennium Space System satellites) to the world’s largest airplane (Stratolaunch). His lifelong passion for aviation, engineering, and avionics led him to all aspects of mission success, program management, and critical flight systems. When not telling terrible dad jokes to his 3 awesome girls and spouse, you can find him slinging remote-control gliders at the park or maintaining and flying his experimental RV-8 aircraft. Like any good aerospace engineer and pilot, the correct number of personal airplanes is always “just one more”…even if you have to drive across the country and back in under two days!

Advisory Team

Mitch Kugler

Mitch Kugler’s career spans service as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army to leading Corporate Strategy for Raytheon over the course of four decades. In between, he spent 10 years in the U.S. Senate in senior staff positions, worked at a think tank, and led advocacy integration for Boeing’s defense business while serving as an advisor to top officials at the Department of Defense, Department of State, and National Security Council across multiple presidential administrations. He retired from Raytheon Technologies after leading critical integration activities in the Raytheon/United Technologies Corporation merger. He is currently Managing Partner of Haystack Strategy Partners, LLC while serving as a Senior Advisor to McKinsey and as an Advisor to Prime Movers Lab.

Mandy Vaughn

Mandy Vaughn is the CEO & Founder of GXO, Inc. and has served on the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group since 2018. Formerly, she helped create VOX Space and then served as its President. She was Senior Director of Business Development and Mission Management for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne program. At General Dynamics Mission Systems’ Space and Intelligence Systems Directorate, she was responsible for space control and space protection investment portfolios. A developmental engineer and program manager in the Air Force, Vaughn supported programs in the Space Superiority Systems Directorate at Los Angeles AFB.

Eric Ries

(Picture Courtesy of Nick Wilson)

Eric Ries is the founder and CEO of the Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE). The LTSE is building a new national securities exchange designed to transform the public company experience for businesses that are built-to-last. He is an entrepreneur and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup, and of The Startup Way. Eric is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology, a global movement in business, practiced by individuals and companies around the world, and the inspiration behind his founding of the LTSE. He has founded a number of startups, including IMVU, where he served as CTO, and he has advised on business and product strategy for startups, venture capital firms, and large companies, including GE, with whom he partnered to create the FastWorks program. Eric has served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School, IDEO, and Pivotal. In 2015, he ran a Kickstarter campaign to produce The Leader’s Guide, which went on to become one of the top Kickstarter book campaigns of all time.

Prof. Steve Heister

(Picture Courtesy of Purdue University)
Dr. Heister is a Distinguished Professor for Engineering and Technology Integration at Purdue University. During his tenure he’s become involved with experimental work at the propulsion laboratory, including solid, hybrid and liquid rocket engine development. He’s the Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center in High Mach Propulsion. The group pursues advanced fuel injectors for high Mach jet engines.