July 20th / 41 min

Astra CEO Chris Kemp: Bringing talent into your orbit

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Chris Kemp

Chris Kemp

Founder and CEO, Astra
About The Episode

Over 50 years after humans first landed on the moon, it’s still extremely difficult—and expensive—to get anything into orbit. But imagine if there were a more affordable way to give scientists and entrepreneurs access to space. We could develop more efficient agriculture to feed people more affordably and sustainably, or more closely monitor the evolution of dangerous storm patterns to save lives.

The company Astra is on a mission to do just that, by creating a lower-cost platform that offers smaller, more frequent launches to get satellites into space. We sat down with Astra co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp to learn more about how his teams collaborate on the immense technical challenges involved, and how design is playing an increasingly important role as traditional control room roles become automated.

Chris has an impressive background, from founding 3 companies to being the CTO of NASA, and we dive into the arc of his career, the lessons he has learned in leading people, and how he communicates mission and vision to his teams.


Chris is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Astra. Previously, Chris founded several tech start-ups and served as the Chief Technology Officer of NASA, where he introduced new technologies into America’s space program and founded OpenStack, the largest and fastest-growing open-source project in history. While at NASA, Chris worked at the White House to develop the cloud strategy for the United States.

Chris has been recognized in the Silicon Valley Business Journal “40 under 40,” the CNBC Disruptor 50 list, and received the prestigious “Federal 100” award for his service at NASA.

Meet Your Hosts

Aarron Walter
VP of Design Education

Aarron Walter is Director of Product on the COVID Response team at Resolve to Save Lives. Previously, he was VP of Design Education at InVision, and founded the UX practice at Mailchimp where he helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. He’s the author of a number of books, the latest of which is a second edition of Designing for Emotion. Aarron’s design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups, and venture capital firms.

You can find Aarron on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Eli Woolery
Director of Design Education

Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he has worked with companies ranging from startups (his own and others) to Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to his background in product and industrial design, he has been a professional photographer and filmmaker. He teaches the senior capstone class Implementation to undergraduate Product Designers at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Twitter and Medium.

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