James Cantrell is the founder of Strategic Space Development, a business development consulting firm which deploys over 40 aerospace professionals to help aerospace companies develop capture and bid strategies. He received his Bachelors and Masters of Science in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering degrees Utah State University in 1988 and 1990 respectively.
In 1987 Mr. Cantrell worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he co-invented the balloon surface contacting payload known as the Mars Snake. In 1989, Cantrell was employed by the French Space Agency (CNES) in Toulouse France on a joint French-Soviet Mars program. Cantrell returned to U.S. in 1993 and worked for the Space Dynamics Laboratory on various joint missile defense programs conducted between the US and Russia. Later, he became Director of Business Development at SDL.
In 2001, Cantrell began independent consulting and served as Program Manager on the privately funded COSMOS 1 Solar Sail program which flew the world’s first solar sail spacecraft from a Russian submarine on a converted ballistic missile. Jim later co-founded Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX); an El Segundo based start-up rocket company led by Internet pioneer Elon Musk.
Jim established Strategic Space Development in 2002, which provides strategic planning and new business capture support for over 40 clients in the aerospace and defense industry. In his capacity as CEO of Strategic Space, he regularly works with clients to develop new business strategies and analyze political and market trends that affect future business opportunities. Mr. Cantrell has served on various government roadmap and strategic planning groups for defense and civil space strategic planning and is an oft-quoted expert in the trade press on the subject of market projections and industrial base matters. Mr. Cantrell has also worked with political candidates and other staff members on space and defense policy matters where his broad view of the exterior political trends and their implications on the aerospace industry and industrial base has been valuable.
Mr. Cantrell is also the author of twelve scientific, research and popular articles dealing with space-related and business topics. He currently resides in Tucson Arizona and lives to drive his vintage Corvette race car in fender to fender track competitions.