Jim's Open Road

JIM CANTRELL

CEO/Co-Founder
Vector Space Systems

“You better be doing with tomorrow exactly what you would be doing if you only had a few days left. ”

INTERESTS:

Engineering Technology

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Hobbies & Pastimes Passion Education Transitions Chance Opportunity Self-Reflection Values Community Exploration Money & Financial Security Acceptance Family

FOUNDATION:

Building Things

BIOGRAPHY:

  • He has had a lifelong obsession with machines: “As long as I was building, I was happy.”
  • Went to high school in Silicon Valley, California, and attended summer programs at Stanford University where he was inspired to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and technology.
  • Attended Utah State University, where he initially pursued a degree in electrical engineering—quickly realized he hated it, so he switched to mechanical engineering which better suited his interests.
  • Says the biggest turning point in his career was pursuing a NASA JPL-funded design course; he ended up doing so well that they gave him a one-year fellowship working on Mars exploration technologies.
  • Got involved with the Planetary Society, working on a joint French-Soviet Mars program where he designed and developed the Mars Snake, a mechanical rope that could move across Martian terrain.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he worked on various joint missile defense programs conducted between America and Russia—became a leading expert on Soviet missile systems.
  • Began collaborating with Elon Musk in 2001 on projects geared towards showing that humanity could expand into the cosmos; this relationship resulted in the formation of SpaceX.
  • He now works as the CEO of Vector Launch and serves on the advisory boards of several companies in the aerospace industry.

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