The Burgeoning Optical Comms Market has become a baseline assumption for nearly every megaconstellation operator (i.e., Starlink, Kuiper, OneWeb Gen2, Lightspeed, PWSA, Rivada, and the EU’s IRIS2) due to their critical role in network capacity, latency, cybersecurity, and ground network costs.
Preston Dunlap has over 20 years of executive leadership experience across technology, national security, and private investment. He is the founder of Arkenstone Ventures, serves on Boards and as Lead Independent Director of Pixxel Space Technologies, advises Fortune 100 and growth companies, private equity, venture capital, and institutions such as RAND, Stanford, and MIT and is a Senior External Advisor at Bain & Company.
He led the Defense Department’s Investment Committee strategy, analysis, and diligence for the Secretary of Defense to allocate and deploy $750B+ annually in industry sectors supporting national security, such as infrastructure, services, space, cybersecurity and software, AI, communications, transportation and logistics, ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weapons.
Mr. Dunlap started $250B+ of new programs with 4 Secretaries of Defense, including the newly unveiled B-21 bomber, Hypersonic Prompt Strike, classified space and intelligence, and Joint All-Domain Command and Control programs.
He led initiatives with the Vice President of the United States and Cabinet on the future of commercial, civil, and national security space, transformed federal Venture Capital investment, was the first Chief Technology Officer of the Space Force and Air Force with $75B of products, and served on the ground floor of successful software and infrastructure companies.
He holds a Master of Science in Operations Research and Management Science from George Mason University, a Bachelor’s degree in both Computer Science and Political Science from Duke University, and was a Harvard National Security Executive Fellow.
Mr. Dunlap is frequently cited as an authority in international media and as an expert witness for the United States Congress. His awards include the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, Secretary of the Air Force Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, and Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service.Robert Conrad
Robert J. Conrad is the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Kepler Communications and is focused on building a high-performance team to expand Kepler’s satellite relay network within the US and global markets. Robert is a strategic leader and team builder who has been responsible for more than $1 billion in sales supporting ground and space systems for the U.S. Government and commercial space industry. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated commitment to responsible leadership, governance, and strategy, and the ability to engage a broad range of stakeholders and drive strategic initiatives.
Previously, Mr. Conrad was Vice President of Business Development at SpaceLink, an innovative company that opened the market for commercial space data relay networks. There he leveraged his US Government and broad professional network to position SpaceLink as a finalist for the NASA CSP Project; a commercial replacement program for the NASA Tracking Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) and secured SpaceLink’s first US Government contract with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Before SpaceLink, he led as Chief Executive Officer at LJT & Associates, a small business aerospace government contractor that provided a range of services including system engineering, satellite and ground station operations, technology development, space launch operations, logistics, and general engineering support. Mr. Conrad began as Vice President of Business Development and General Manager and went on to become Chief Operating Officer and finally President and Chief Executive Officer. He drove strategy and managed P&L and business development. Under his leadership, the company grew to over $70M in annual revenue.
In recent years, he led a high-performance engineering team that developed a high data rate Ku-Band and Ka-Band satellite transceiver (LCT2) to relay launch telemetry to the ground through the geosynchronous NASA TDRSS satellite system.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Conrad worked at Allied Signal Technical Services where he served as Deputy Director of Space Services. He provided management and technical oversight on space services contracts which included the Consolidated Space Operations Contract at NASA Johnson Space Center, JPL Deep Space Network Contract, and the Commercial DataLynx Space Ground Station Network.
Mr. Conrad earned his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in RF & Satellite Communications, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Capitol College. He holds a U.S. Patent on a wide band continuously tunable satellite QPSK transceiver.Tim Deaver
Tim Deaver serves as the VP of Strategic Solutions and U.S. Government Business Development and Sales in the Mynaric Washington D.C. area office and is responsible for creating and marketing customer solutions for Mynaric’s industry leading Laser Communication Terminals. Tim leads a team focused on Customer Success, from requirements capture, to solutions development, and customer delivery. He works closely with the Mynaric Sales and Engineering teams across critical Government and Commercial markets.
Prior to joining Mynaric, Tim worked for Airbus U.S. Space and Defense for 3 years leading their US Government focused small satellite capture and engineering efforts.
Mr. Deaver also worked for SES and SES Government Solutions for over 10 years where he led the business and product development activities. Mr. Deaver led the SES GS team which won the USAF Space and Missile System Center (SMC) Pathfinder 1 contract for the purchase of near-end of life transponders, SMC’s Pathfinder 3 contract for prelaunched capacity on an SES satellite, the NASA Global-scale Observation of Limb and Disk (GOLD) hosted payload launched on SES-14 (built by Airbus Defense and Space) in 2018 and the FAA’s Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) payload launched on SES-15 in 2017. Mr. Deaver also served as the program manager and eventually the Program Executive for the Commercially Hosted Infra-Red Payload (CHIRP) program which was launched in September 2011 aboard the SES-2 spacecraft.
Prior to joining SES, Mr. Deaver served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force in various space operational, acquisition and policy positions. Tim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska, a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado and a Master’s Degree from Air University.Dr. Baris Erkmen
Dr. Baris I. Erkmen has been active in the development of advanced optical communication and sensing systems for two decades. He is presently CTO at Aalyria Technologies, driving the development of lasercom technology to connect space and ground communication networks.
Before joining Aalyria, Baris was the CEO of Hedron Space (2022-2023), developing an optical data-relay network for Earth-observation satellites. His past responsibilities include Engineering Director of Project Taara at X, the moonshot factory (2017-2022), where he developed a high-performance wireless optical communication product to expand terrestrial broadband networks. Prior to that he was the Lead for Project Loon’s Free-Space Optical Communications effort (2013-2016), where he and his team developed optical communications technology for a stratospheric platform. Baris has also been the Principal Investigator for NASA’s OPALS laser communication demonstration (2009-2013), which successfully demonstrated an optical downlink from the International Space Station to Earth. In 2022, Baris was elected Fellow of Optica for contributions to the advancement of wireless optical communication systems in performance, technology maturity, large-scale manufacturability, and cost.
Baris’s interests encompass the application of both classical and quantum properties of light to enhance communication and sensing capabilities for terrestrial, airborne, and spaceborne systems.Jeff Huggins
Jeff Huggins is an aerospace and defense sector expert, growth leader and President of the U.S. arm of Cailabs, a global company and leading player in laser communications.
After leaving behind a distinguished career as a Naval Intelligence Officer, during which he focused on national overhead and intelligence systems, Jeff moved into the private sector, where he held senior roles at several major companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries North America and Raytheon. He led the expansion of an established $24 million company, driving it to more than $40 million in value between 2016 and 2020, and served as the CEO and Chairman of the Board of the U.S. classified aerospace wing of Safran. Safran, a major French aviation company, is the second-largest aircraft equipment manufacturer in the world.
Jeff, who also worked as a presidential appointee in the State Department, holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from the Darden School of business at the University of Virginia with additional graduate studies at the Naval War College and the Naval Postgraduate School.
He is considered an expert in combining the creative applications of tech, people and solutions to grow companies. At Cailabs, he is driving growth in the U.S. to meet rising demand from the defense and commercial sectors.
Since 2019 TESAT Chief Commercial Officer, responsible for Sales & Marketing, Product Management, Strategy and Communications for the complete product portfolio including RF- and Laser products.
2002-2019 several management positions in operational Sales & Marketing at Airbus (former EADS) in the defence and space business, as well as the international Sales, Marketing and Strategy organization at the Paris HQ.
1993-2002 several Key Account Manager and Sales Management Position in the terrestrial telecommunication business.
Master Degree in electrical engineering from the German Air Force University and Executive MBA from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management and WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management.