Uplift offers manufacturing & logistic services for brands & creators to build innovative products in space. Uplift has agreements and letters of intent with NASA, Smithsonian, University of Arizona, University of Wisconsin, University of Central Florida, Blue Origin, and the Orbital Reef Space Station.
We recently trained our first commercial astronaut class, and have contracted to send our first astronaut on an upcoming Blue Origin mission.
President & CEO
CEO Josh Hanes is an accomplished executive with a professional background overseeing multimillion-dollar equity funds and successful real estate investment projects. His managerial experience includes time spent as the COO of the Reef Life Foundation where he oversaw large-scale reef restoration projects in the Caribbean. Hanes began his career with an emphasis on the technical side of the space industry. Soon after receiving a BS in Physics at the University of Utah, Hanes joined a team working with Dr. Steve Howe to develop a proposal for an advanced ion propulsion system. Hanes’ managerial abilities including budget management, maintenance of a robust company schedule, and ability to raise outside capital synergize with his intimate knowledge of the space industry to position Uplift Aerospace at the forefront of this exciting and growing industry.
Meet The Team
Secretary & Director of Engineering
Director of Engineering Eric Willeitner is an accomplished mechanical engineer with experience developing components for military, space, and commercial aerospace. He excels in coordinating and collaborating with multi-disciplined engineering groups to meet shared goals. Willeitner received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Utah State University in 2014. Upon graduating, he began working as a Fluid Control Design Engineer for RAM company. He was promoted to the Engineering Lead of Test Systems and Tooling where he increased project success rates by coordinating product testing and manufacturing development. Willeitner brings his deep engineering understanding to Uplift Aerospace. As the company moves forward with its plans for the Constellation Vault, the Suborbital Triptych, and the Moon Cast, Willeitner’s engineering skills will assist Uplift in understanding and designing solutions to meet the challenges ahead.
Treasurer & Director of Operations
Director of Operations Jeffrey Johnson is an accomplished business executive who’s spent more than fifteen years overseeing successful business operations. His skillset includes government relations, contract negotiations, and budget analysis. Johnson graduated with honors from The University of Utah’s Masters of Public Administration program with an emphasis on governmental and organizational management. He has gone on to work for governmental agencies where he’s been responsible for contract negotiation, budget tracking, and contractor performance oversight. At Uplift Aerospace, Johnson is bringing these organizational skills to negotiate and coordinate with government agencies like NASA as well as private corporations like Blue Origin. His experience with large agencies will allow Uplift to continue growing into a premier technology company while forging deep business ties.
Director of Communications & Space+
Emily Higgins is the Director of Communications and Special Projects for Uplift Aerospace, and is currently heading up the community launch for Uplift's new Space+ NFT Project. With a Masters degree in Visual Communications, Higgins specializes specifically in community building through impactful visual media (film, photography, graphics), combining art and information to create deeper connections with environments that are difficult for members to visit. Higgins's background in community engagement is an important aspect of Space+ NFT Project's mission to democratize and diversify access to space, while providing real life access to low Earth orbit, the Moon, and beyond.
Heather Van Duker
Director of Astronaut Engagement
Heather Van Duker has over a decade of experience in statistical analytics and marketing science. She worked as a Director with leading marketing science firms that helped to shape brands through disciplined strategic thinking, acting as a driving force to extract hidden insights from the data and carry out further research. Heather is currently working with Uplift Aerospace’s Space+ project to build an astronaut engagement program with the goal of bridging the gap between the aerospace industry and private citizens, creating commercially and emotionally rewarding relationships across sectors.
Dr. Mason Robbins
A distinguished expert in aerospace, Dr. Mason Robbins combines deep academic insights with real-world experience. Holding a PhD in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies and an MBA, Robbins' decade-long journey in project management spans sectors from Science to Sports and Education. Notably, he's logged over 50 hours in EVA suits, evidencing his hands-on expertise as an EVA spacesuit engineer. Beyond the technical, Robbins is a seasoned leader in fostering collaborations across academia, industry, and government. His roles also extend to the Vice-President of the European Lacrosse Federation and involvement in various charities. His diverse expertise bolsters Uplift Aerospace's standing in space exploration and commercialization.
Director of Space+ Astronaut Program
Lead VR Programmer
David Burnham stands at the forefront of virtual reality and 3D artistry with six years of dedicated experience. As the Game Designer for three VR games, David has showcased his prowess in crafting engaging digital realms. His contributions are not limited to gaming alone; he's lent his 3D artistry skills to a myriad of educational and marketing ventures. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, David consistently emphasizes optimizing team efforts and honing proficiency, ensuring the creation of truly immersive experiences. His blend of design acumen and artistic talent enhances Uplift Aerospace's capabilities in the digital realm.
VR Environment Design
With a decade of prowess in digital artistry, Josh Keele is a seasoned 3D artist who seamlessly melds creativity with technical expertise. His portfolio boasts an array of 3D assets designed for games, entertainment, and educational platforms, highlighting his versatility in diverse application areas. While Josh's mastery in 3D artistry is evident, he also possesses commendable skills in 2D design. His dual expertise makes him an invaluable asset to Uplift Aerospace, enhancing our visual narrative across various projects.
Jordan Haddock, with three years of game development under his belt, stands as a dynamic force in the realm of virtual reality. Specializing in Unity and C#, he has successfully launched two VR titles, showcasing his adeptness in the field. Armed with a degree in computer science, Jordan's foundation allows him to deftly navigate the ever-evolving landscape of emerging technologies, ensuring agility and precision in his work. His expertise strengthens Uplift Aerospace's commitment to innovation and technological excellence.
Dr. Sian Proctor
Inspired4 Astronaut & Artist
Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She is the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a J.E.D.I. space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight. She uses her afrofuturism space art to encourage conversations about women of color in the space industry. She believes that when we solve for space, we also solve issues on Earth.
Dr. José Hernández
Retired NASA Astronaut
Hernández is a distinguished former NASA astronaut and engineer who participated in the STS-128 Space Shuttle mission. As part of the crew, Hernández spent an extended period in space, contributing to our knowledge of the universe and broadening our understanding of space travel. His passion for education is evident in his dedication to fostering academic excellence and shaping future leaders. On his post-NASA journey, Hernández is recognized for his dedication to using his experiences to inspire young minds, reinforcing the notion that the sky is not the limit. A seasoned astronaut and a profound educator, Hernández continues to contribute to our understanding of space and our role within it, while enriching the academic landscape here on Earth.
Retired NASA Astronaut
Stott is a retired NASA astronaut and engineer who flew with missions STS-128, Expedition 20, Expedition 21, STS-129, and STS-133. Stott lived and worked as a crewmember on both the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle for 104 days - where a personal highlight was painting the first watercolor in space. Stott is now author of her first book “Back to Earth: What Life In Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet – And Our Mission To Protect It”. On her post-NASA mission, she is a co-founder of the Space for Art Foundation — uniting a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space exploration and the healing power of art. Stott creatively combines her spaceflight experience with her artwork to inspire everyone’s appreciation of our role as crewmates here on Spaceship Earth.
Advisor: Community Engagement
Caroline B. Geraghty is a Space+ Community Engagement Advisor. A first generation Filipino-American immigrant and working mom, she is bullish on blockchain technology as the solution to The Great Resignation by providing equity to those most impacted - women/mothers of color. She has applied her skills from a 15-year career as a pediatrics nurse to a variety of exciting collaborations, including The First White House Event on Clubhouse with Xtina Holder (Womxn in Business), Laurie Segall (Dot Dot Dot Media), OP3N (EST Media Holdings, Inc's Web3 division), and advisor roles for a variety of Web3 projects (CryptoVenus NFT, cool crypto kids, Gratitude NFT, CATBOTICA)
Shiva Lynn Burgos
Advisor: Space+ Art Program
Shiva Lynn Burgos is a contemporary artist and photographer from New York, USA currently living and working between Paris, London and Papua New Guinea. Compelled by remote landscapes and communities Burgos creates interventions often collaborating with the local population (traditional peoples of Papua New Guinea, Saharan Berbers, Bali Hindus, USA subcultures). Her diverse contemporary, conceptual and collaborative practice positions itself within the unifying concepts of evolution, competition, natural and social selection. Her practice encompasses photography, film, installation, 360 VR, sculpture, painting, drawing, and performance.
Chris Bennett is a seasoned entrepreneur, visionary leader, and prolific investor in the digital space. As the Founder and Chairman of 97th Floor, a world-renowned marketing agency, he has driven the company to achieve numerous awards such as Inc. 5,000, Inc. Best Places to Work, and Fortune's Great Places to Work, among others.
Passionate about autonomy, company culture, and creating better workplaces, Chris has a unique ability to cultivate a positive and effective work environment that fosters growth and innovation.
As a testament to his dedication to propelling industry growth, Chris is also a managing partner at 7Sixty Ventures.
Advisor: Astronaut Teacher
Mike Mongo, fondly referred to as the Neil Armstrong of our generation by The Atlantic, is an engaging author, educator, and astronaut teacher with an enduring passion for space exploration. His work in space education and advocacy has earned him features in prestigious publications like Forbes and Scientific American, as well as on the TEDx stage.
A serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, and executive adviser who has turned personal trials into opportunities that have benefited people worldwide. Ruben is not just a successful entrepreneur; he’s a seasoned leader who knows how to guide businesses toward spectacular growth and success. In 2014, he founded Parsagen Diagnostics, which was acquired by Qiagen (QGEN) in 2018. Prior to that, he was a driving force behind AmniSure International’s success, another company acquired by Qiagen (QGEN) in 2012.
Advisor: VR Experiences
Michael Mudrock is the co-founder and CEO of Continuum XR, an organization focused on developing and implementing extended reality (XR) solutions for education and training. With a passion for technology and education, Michael leverages his deep understanding of XR to create immersive, impactful learning experiences. His vision and leadership have positioned Continuum XR as an innovative player in the education technology sector, transforming how we approach learning in the 21st century.