Richard French earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Aerospace Engineering in 2006 and a Master of Engineering in Space Engineering in 2007, both from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. After joining the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2007, he supported systems engineering on the Crew Exploration Vehicle Thermal Protection System Advanced Development Project and the Mars forebody heatshield and the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing system. He also served as the Spin Subsystem engineer on the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, delivering the spin mechanism assembly and the spun-side control electronics used for instrument spin rate control, antenna deployment motor control, and active thermal control of the SMAP instrument.
He spent two years on detail to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a Staff Technologist in the Space Technology Mission Directorate and deployed two new public-private partnership opportunities: the Tipping Point and the Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity. He also supported the Space Technology Research Grants program leading development of technical topics for the Early Career Faculty and Early Stage Innovation Solicitations as well as a new solicitation, the Space Technology Research Institutes. He then served as the Manager, Technology Partnerships in JPL’s Space Technology Office, managing the SBIR/STTR program while leading development of partnerships with industry to infuse technologies into JPL’s future missions, including regular startup pitch events run in collaboration with Starburst Aerospace and a startup accelerator run in collaboration with Techstars.
He now lead’s Space Systems Business Development and Strategy for Rocket Lab.