Meet our Team

ExoTerra specializes in developing and optimizing solar electric propulsion systems. In addition to our own Courier system and Halo thruster, we have worked on SEP systems such as the Asteroid Redirect Mission, Mars Aerosol Tracker, Agile Inspector and the Nuclear Electric Propulsion Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. Beyond SEP systems, we have a broad background with operational spacecraft. Our team has worked programs including Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Global Surveyor, Orion, Dream Chaser, Osiris-Rx, GOES-R, Genesis, XSS-11, Stardust, Space Shuttle Main Engines and Atlas. We have held contracts with NASA, Lockheed, Sierra Nevada, and the Air Force.

Owner / President

Mr. Michael VanWoerkom is ExoTerra's founder and president. He has 23 yrs experience, including 14 years at Lockheed Martin where he rapidly advanced to the level of engineering manager, winning over a dozen performance, including Lockheed Martin’s highest award: the Nova Award; and was part of the Stellar Award-winning Orion Pad Abort Team. While at ExoTerra, Mr. VanWoerkom performed as the PI for our SEP systems, including the Phase II Micro EP SBIR, Mars Aerosol Tracker, Agile Inspector, a 2016 SEP Power Module Phase II SBIR, 2014 Deep Space CubeSat SBIR, our 2012 SBIR for a microsatellite direct drive system, and our Asteroid Redirect Mission study. He served for 6 years at Lockheed Martin on Orion primarily as the Structures, Mechanisms & Ordinance Manager for the Crew Module. He successfully managed the staffing, scheduling and budget for teams of up to 170 people to design, fabricate, test and fly structures and mechanisms on the successful Pad Abort 1 flight, as well as the Orion Ground Test Article. Prior to Orion, relevant projects included the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) proposal, the XSS11 Microsatellite and Genesis. For JIMO, he served as the spacecraft architect and interim mechanical lead. There he built a system optimization program for the Nuclear Electric Propulsion spacecraft which optimized the system mass versus nuclear reactor type, power levels, power conversion type, radiation shielding, boom length, radiator area, thruster sizing, and trajectory among other parameters. He worked closely with NASA GRC on incorporating the NEXT ion engine into the spacecraft design. On XSS11 and Genesis, he served as the structures lead and spacecraft configuration lead, and demonstrated his ability to bring space hardware from concept to flight. Mr. VanWoerkom holds an MBA from the University of Colorado, a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a BSE degree in Mechanical Engineering from Calvin College. While at the U of M, he focused on electric propulsion and studied under Dr. Alec Gallimore, a leader in the electric propulsion field.