Meet Melissa Wuerl, Director of Business Development for Spaceflight.
Q: What do you do for Spaceflight?
A: I develop business relationships with customers all around the world and help them to identify launch opportunities and manifest their spacecraft. My primary function is to secure new business for Spaceflight and grow our long-term customer base. I’ve been with the company just under 5 years, originally starting at Andrews Space as a Director for Programs and Business Development. Prior to that I worked for Primex then Lockheed Martin in a variety of engineering, program management and BD roles, across several lines of business, including remote sensing satellites, launch systems integration and missile defense.
Q: What interests you about space?
A: I am humbled by the expansiveness of it. Mankind has explored only a small amount of our own solar system – it’s easy to forget how little we really know and understand about what exists out there in space. I suppose I am fascinated and driven by the pursuit of exploration.
Q: Favorite thing to do when you’re not working here?
A: I’m pretty physically active, so you’ll find me at FlyWheel or some gym if I’m not working. It’s a good balance to knowledge work.
Q: Star Wars, Star Trek or The Martian?
A: Anything that involves saving Matt Damon is my highest priority.
Q: If you were to mentor someone who wanted to do what you do, what advice would you give them?
A: Business Development is all about emotional intelligence. A background in technology helps, but isn’t totally necessary. I draw on my aerospace engineering background daily, but mostly just to better understand the needs and challenges my customer may encounter so we can craft a business deal that is beneficial for everyone. You have to really embrace and enjoy solving problems for, and with, your customer to succeed in this type of role, to the point where their success and achievement is fulfilling for you as well.
Q: Would you interested in going to space or another planet someday?
A: Perhaps a brief glimpse at the Earth from space would be something I’d consider, but I have no desire to be stuck up in a cramped spaceship for a year or more. I think I would enjoy the training aspect of going to space more than actually going to space.
Q: What’s one thing that most people at Spaceflight don’t know about you:
A: Photography is my favorite form of art. The only art I have in my home is photographs. I love that photography captures a real, tangible moment in time, something that exists; but a truly spectacular photo really draws you in to your own imagination and then beyond to the story you cannot see.
Another thing I’d like to share: below is the photo of my first mission patch. It was for the Beagle 2 mission, which was a British led Mars lander. We lost contact with Beagle 2 right as it was supposed to land on the surface of Mars in December of 2003. We never knew what happened until 12 years later when Beagle 2 was rediscovered intact on the Martian surface by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and we learned 2 of the solar panels had failed to properly deploy and blocked the communications antenna.