Alan Weston CEO LTA Research


Dr. Alan Weston’s career exemplifies transformational leadership in the breakthrough design and production of a 21st Century airship and his seminal contributions to advancements in aerospace RDT&E.

Dr. Weston’s lifetime of exceptional contributions in aerospace research and development via dozens of successful Department of Defense, NASA, and U.S. Air Force programs critical to national defense. His record of outstanding leadership has led him to his present endeavor as he makes aviation history with the breakthrough engineering design and development of a 21st Century airship which forms the basis of a new aviation industrial base.

Since 2015, Dr. Weston has led the rebirth and reintroduction of airships for the 21st Century through his innovative design, development, and production of Pathfinder 1, the first rigid airship in 85 years. As the first hybrid electric airship, Pathfinder 1 showcases a new mode of environmentally sustainable transportation, creating a new highway in the sky for carbon neutral passenger and cargo transportation.

Pathfinder has caught the imagination of the aviation engineering and user communities as it begins its flight test program. Dr. Weston has introduced 21st Century design and manufacturing innovations using carbon fiber materials and groundbreaking, transformational titanium hub structures that will enable large scale manufacturing of airships, reducing production and operations costs to ensure a competitive advantage as Airships re-enter the world’s transportation systems.

Pathfinder has been designed to provide national and international passenger and cargo service with multiple applications including but not limited to air tourism, international humanitarian and disaster relief, cargo/freight service, surveillance, and communication functions, emergency disaster response, climate change, fire, drought and weather monitoring, interdiction of drug and human trafficking, and illegal fishing and poaching.

Prior to creating the new Pathfinder airship, Dr. Weston’s lifetime contributions to aerospace research and development include his leadership as the Director of Programs at NASA’s Ames Research Center where he led the rebirth of Ames space missions, bringing experts from DoD, industry and academia together, resulting in 10 space missions that revolutionized space science with the discovery of water ice on the moon and earth-like planets around stars in our galaxy.  His lunar lander technology demonstration convinced the founders of Google to fund the Lunar X prize which had 22 competitors. These efforts laid the foundation for the world’s first lunar commercial services.

As a national expert in missile and satellite technologies, space-based surveillance and missile defense, Dr Weston has worked on 50+ spacecraft, rocket, interceptor and air vehicle missions that have led to unique and lasting capabilities that revolutionized the U.S. Air Force space operations and transformed space combat.

For example, Dr. Weston managed the National Hover Test Facility and was responsible for ground and flight testing of the National Missile Defense Interceptor and Standard Missile 3 Aegis Interceptor leading to system deployments. He also was the architect and manager of AF micro-satellite programs which resulted in critical data for follow on systems. At the U.S. Air Force Space Command, Dr. Weston served as Technical Advisor and developed specific programs for the Commander-in-Chief, SPACE to address fast track capabilities requested by the Vice Chairman, JCS. These programs were approved by the SECDEF, funded, completed successfully, and transitioned into operational status.

Dr Weston also served as Chief Scientist for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center where he developed a $700 million Responsive Space initiative which directly led to Space X launch vehicles and created the FALCON program (Force Application and Launch from Continental United States) hypersonic launch program. He then served as the senior U.S. Air Force advisor to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, (DARPA), and led the senior advisory group for the FALCON hypersonic launch program, also advising on small satellites and space control. He was the U.S. Air Force lead on DARPA space projects and provided technical and programmatic support to the DARPA Director.

He later served as the Technical Advisor at the National Reconnaissance Office for Aerospace Science and Technology Directorate, where he successfully consolidated $10 billion Department of Defense and Intelligence Community space activities, accelerating demonstration of critical capabilities by four years and reduced costs by 90%.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Weston was Program Director for The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) where he planned, mentored, and directed spacecraft research and development teams and provided expert assistance to U.S. Department of Defense space programs including the Lightweight Exp Atmospheric Projectile development and flight testing. He managed the Miniature Sensor Technology Integration Program of three modular satellites, the first auto-code SW generation in aerospace, initiating the small satellite revolution that led to government and commercial acceptance in the next 30 years. He also developed the U.S. Air Force premier satellite, integration, and test facility, and was responsible for space interceptor evaluation, planned joint programs with allied nations and was responsible for the first 22 US kinetic kill vehicles (KKV), directing 32 key critical ground and flight tests. He was Project manager for the interceptor miniaturization and reduced weight by 10X. He presented Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research to (then) Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher.

Dr Weston was responsible for Large Space Systems research and development in flexible space structures, as Chairman of the Space Defense Initiative Office for development of guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) projects. As Program Manager for the Kinetic Kill Vehicle Hovered Interceptor Test, his teams produced space chemical rocket and rail gun launched projectiles, and Dr Weston briefed the first successful flight test to Congress with the SDI Deputy for Technology.

Dr. Weston has published 20+ articles and disseminated his unique knowledge and mentoring skills as an Associate Professor in the Aerospace Department at Virginia Tech, teaching undergraduate courses in Aerospace Engineering and continued his mentoring activities via his service as a Member, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Guidance, Navigation and Control Technical Committee (AIAA GNC TC).

Weston, born in Toronto, Canada, completed his undergraduate studies in Engineering Science at Oxford University, and his Master’s Degree and Doctoral Degrees in Aerospace Engineering at Virginia Tech.