Space4U Podcast

Space4U Podcast: Kevin Rice – Former Director of Business Management for Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works and NASA JPL

Written by: Andrew de Naray



In this episode:

We meet Kevin Rice who spent 40 years in the aerospace industry, roughly split between Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). At Skunk Works Kevin served as Director of Business Management, where his responsibilities included management of several hundred employees in the execution of budgeting, scheduling, proposal development, cost estimating and pricing, contracts, and risk management. His work supported tactical aircraft projects including the F-117, F-22, and F-35, as well as reconnaissance projects such as the U-2, SR-71, various C-130 projects, and the sub-scale X-33 reusable launch vehicle.

Following that, and until his retirement in 2019, Kevin worked for NASA JPL, as a Division Manager and Director of Project Business Management for NASA’s research and development centers. Kevin developed, implemented and maintained JPL’s project controls processes, and created JPL’s business policies and practices manual (the “Dark Green Book”), which served as a model for business throughout NASA. He also developed the independent assessment model adopted by NASA to assess project performance. From 1992 to the present, Kevin has served as adjunct professor of Corporate Finance, International Business, and Global Financial Management at the University of Redlands.

In our conversation, Kevin discusses how he budgeted costs and set timelines for massive aerospace projects, established risk evaluation and management controls, what it was like maintaining constant discretion on classified projects, details on Skunk Works’ X-33 reusable launch vehicle program with NASA, and his experiences riding the annual Federal appropriations rollercoaster.

Discussing his own personal commandments for business management, Kevin says, “It’s about understanding the trends — what are the facts, what is the relationship between facts — that’s analysis. Assessment is, ‘What do I do with that information?’” You know, what is the risk attendant to that? How reasonable is it? What are some of the alternatives that we can apply to some of that?”

Transcript: Space4U podcast, Kevin Rice
Hello, this is Andrew de Naray with Space Foundation, and you're listening to the Space4U podcast. Space4U is designed to tell the stories of the people who have made space exploration today more accessible to all. Our guest today is Kevin Rice. Kevin spent 40 years in the aerospace industry,…
Read the full transcript