Mr. Thompson was president and chief executive officer of Orbital ATK, a global aerospace and defense technologies company. He retiired June 30, 2018. He co-founded Orbital ATK’s processor, Orbital Sciences Corporation, in 1982 and served as the company’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer at the time of its merger with Alliant Techsystems in 2014.  Orbital Sciences was engaged in the development and deployment of small- and medium-class space and rocket systems for scientific, defense, and commercial customers. 

Prior to co-founding Orbital in 1982, Mr. Thompson was special assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft Company’s Missile Systems Group and was a project manager and engineer on advanced rocket engines at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.  As a college student, he worked on the first Mars landing missions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and on Space Shuttle projects at the NASA Langley Research Center and Johnson Space Center.

Mr. Thompson is a trustee of the California Institute of Technology.  He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and served as its president from 2009 to 2010.  He is also a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics.

Mr. Thompson earned a BS in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, an MS in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1977, and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1981.  He has been honored with Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Harvard’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Among other accolades, Mr. Thompson was awarded the National Medal of Technology, was honored as Virginia’s Industrialist of the Year, and received the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy.  He was also awarded the International Von Karman Wings Award by the Aerospace Historical Society and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.  In addition, he was named High-Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, was selected as Satellite Executive of the Year by Via Satellite Magazine, and was presented with the World Technology Award for Space by The Economist.