Tabitha Dodson

Dr. Tabitha Dodson

Program Manager, Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations [DRACO]

Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA)

Dr. Tabitha Dodson joined the Tactical Technology Office as a program manager in August 2021. Her interests are in: advanced space payloads, electric propulsion, astrodynamics, nuclear thermal and nuclear electric propulsion, overall rocket propulsion, advanced nuclear reactors, plasma physics and plasma engineering, nuclear/quantum/particle physics, and hypersonics.

Dodson is the Program Manager for the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program. Prior to becoming a program manager at DARPA, Dodson was a Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) contractor with Gryphon-Schafer Government Services, LLC, also within DARPA, where she served beginning in 2018 as the chief engineer of the DRACO program, which endeavors to build and test a nuclear thermal rocket. Upon conversion to being a government employee in 2021, she continued to serve as DRACO’s chief engineer, concurrently as its deputy program manager. Dodson has worked an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering at the United States Naval Academy and also as an adjunct professor in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). Dodson has worked in various other positions within and for the U.S. Air Force, including as an aerospace engineer and senior scientist in the fields of spacecraft engineering, space missions and operations, space power, and space propulsion. She was also a Graduate Student Researchers Program fellow with NASA conducting research in materials for nuclear thermal propulsion.

Dodson holds a doctorate in applied physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology, as well as a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the George Washington University (GWU), where she also earned a master’s in space policy, in addition to bachelor’s degrees in physics, sociology, and anthropology.

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