Engineering the Future of Aviation

At VENUS Aerospace we are building the world’s first Spaceplane that can fly at hypersonic speeds at the edge of the atmosphere. A Spaceplane that can take off from LAX and land in Tokyo in an hour…and then make the return flight to get you home for dinner.

Our team is solving the thousands of problems that make hypersonic travel possible. We’re engineering innovative aircraft shapes, heat shields, flight mechanics, and so much more. This is all supported by our next generation zero-carbon emission hypersonic engine. 

The future of aviation is Faster, Farther, and Cleaner.

This isn’t easy. This is Rocket Science. 

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.

Natalya Bailey

(Picture Courtesy of Accion Systems)
Natalya Bailey is the SVP and Head of Strategy at Bloom Energy, a company building fuel cells and electrolyzers to make clean, reliable energy affordable to everyone in the world. Prior to Bloom, she founded and led Accion Systems to commercialization of its novel ion engines for satellites. Accion was acquired in 2021 by Tracker Capital and Natalya sits on the board and chairs the Technical Subcommittee. Natalya is on the advisory boards of a handful of technology and space companies, and invests with XFactor Ventures, a fund that supports female founders with world-changing ideas. A technologist, space enthusiast, and youth STEM advocate at her core, Natalya is a member of the AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Subcommittee, the MIT AeroAstro Visiting Committee, and a former board member and current mentor to YouthCITIES. She received her BS, MS, and PhD with a focus in space propulsion from San Diego State University, Duke University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively.