Over the past three decades, Mark has pursued a career focused on space operations to defend American values and improve life on earth. Upon graduating from Norwich University in ’92 with a BS in electrical engineering, Mark was commissioned a 2LT in the US Air Force and assigned to Air Force Space Command, the predecessor of today’s US Space Force.
During his 7-years of military service, Mark operated military satellites, pioneered tactics to integrate space capabilities into air combat operations, and led intelligence analysis. Some highlights include recovering a GPS satellite from an anomaly, multiple deployments to implement space capabilities for NATO’s Bosnia Implementation Force (IFOR), proving-out GPS Aided Munitions for the B2 bomber, and earning a Master of Engineering in space operations from the University of Colorado.
Mark has also held executive roles at several aerospace companies, including serving as a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and CEO for a private equity-held company. In 2018, Mark’s passion for space brought him, and his wife Amy, to Alaska where he served as the CEO for Alaska Aerospace Corporation, a state-owned organization chartered to develop Alaska’s aerospace industry and operate the Kodiak commercial spaceport. During his tenure, Mark led the organization without state subsidies, provided launch authority for joint missile defense tests, expanded commercial spaceport users, and ensured uninterrupted launch operations throughout COVID restrictions.
In 2021, the Lesters moved to Tucson, Arizona where Mark joined Phantom Space, an entrepreneurial start-up designing, building and operating launch vehicles and spacecraft. Mark is currently Phantom’s COO with responsibilities spanning manufacturing, facilities, testing, and launch operations, including managing the company’s contracted launches to NASA. Mark’s bucket-list dream is to take a space cruise around the moon.