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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Dirk Wallinger

CEO & President

York Space Systems

Location: Denver, CO

Founded: 2012

Industry: Aerospace & Defense

Dirk Wallinger and his wife decided that if his aerospace and defense company was going to succeed, it needed his full attention. He would have to quit his job to make York Space Systems a success.

“To jump blindly based solely on a belief in what the future needed to be was the largest risk I ever took,” Wallinger said. “We didn’t know how we would pay our bills, how long it would take, or how to support our two children, but we jumped anyway.”

York was founded in 2012 to improve spacecraft affordability and reliability, enabling next-generation space mission operations worldwide. Today, the company specializes in the manufacture of spacecraft platforms, end-to-end customer space collection solutions, cloud-based spacecraft development tools and real-time, web-based mission tasking based in Denver.

“York’s mission … includes the development of satellites with capabilities dedicated to solving some of the world’s biggest challenges,” the company said. “From climate change and utilizing space-based data to develop solutions for more sustainable food production at scale to cybersecurity by building exclusive, dedicated communication systems for Fortune 100 global enterprises.”

Prior to starting York, Wallinger was a principal engineer on multiple space vehicles, including GeoEye-1, ORS-1, the Fermi Gamma-ray Observatory, the Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) satellite and numerous classified programs. In 2012, he set out to build a company that would radically improve spacecraft affordability and revolutionize the aerospace industry, repositioning the United States to be the continued leader of the space economy.

Wallinger is committed to ensuring that York is not only a successful business but also a good steward of space itself and of this planet. The York team is committed to collaborating with government and commercial customers that are working to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

“Dirk genuinely believes in the strategic opportunity of space, not only as the frontier that the U.S. is best positioned to lead, but the great potential for space to improve terrestrial life,” the company said. “The U.S. has a tremendous responsibility to lead the way, not only in space technology and discovery of the final frontier, but in ensuring that the commercialization of space is done responsibly and in partnership with our global partners.”

Over the past three years, York’s workforce has grown 300% and revenues have increased over 250% year over year. Wallinger’s leadership has made York the only profitable small aerospace business that competes and wins against traditional prime contractors for operational systems.

Presented by:

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Dirk is also a co-owner of an interior design firm originally founded in NYC.


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