A corporate partner and satellite practice co-head, Steve Kaufman uses industry knowledge and versatility to negotiate and close many types of deals globally.
For 18 of his 30 years at the firm, Steve served as outside general counsel for satellite clients, leading strategic joint ventures, “bet-the-company” contracts, financings, and M&A.
What Steve does best: understanding complex business issues and translating them into legal documents. If a client can describe something, Steve can draft it. Working from complicated to simple, he has many times reduced a lengthy contract into a few pages of bullet points, showing the client what it needs and how to obtain it. He has even written a business and financing model for parties in the form of an agreement. Many clients comment that the business guidance from Steve is as valuable as the legal advice.
Steve relies on his familiarity with issues common to satellite and communications companies to give him an edge in negotiations. This experience produces extra benefits when Steve deals with specialized satellite contract terms, targeted warranties, creative covenants, use of insurance to close gaps, license and spectrum issues, and even finance and accounting matters. According to Chambers Steve Kaufman is “a real authority and somebody who will always know the answer.”
In advising clients, Steve emphasizes practicality, striving to achieve the client’s business objectives for the transaction, whether economic, risk reduction, regulatory/compliance, or transaction speed. This carries over into deal management as well as negotiations, where he willingly takes the lead. Steve and satellite practice co-head Randy Segal are regulars at the satellite conferences, making connections among clients and even adverse parties. He is listed in Chambers, Super Lawyers, and Legal 500.Curt Blake
Curt Blake is president of Spaceflight’s launch services group and previously served as senior vice president and general counsel. Curt has led efforts to expand Spaceflight’s global network of launch service providers while building relationships with key commercial-, civilian- and defense-related customers. Over the last several years, Curt oversaw the company’s growth from its early commercial rideshare launches on the Antares and Soyuz vehicles to become the industry’s rideshare leader and the world’s first commercial spaceline.
Curt brings more than 25 years of executive experience in high-growth and tech industries, with past experience including a range of senior executive and general counsel roles at Microsoft, Starwave, Corbis and Aldus. He’s a current and active board member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the Seattle-based Pacific Science Center, as well as a contributor to numerous small-satellite conferences.
Growing up in Thailand and Ethiopia, Curt is a student of the world and still enjoys traveling for work and pleasure (but don’t ask him to take a middle seat).Dr. Marino Fragnito
Marino Fragnito has joined Arianespace in March 2016 to manage the Vega Business Unit. Since February 2018 he is also in charge of the overall Vega sales, marketing & business development activities in Arianespace and in November 2020 he has been appointed Senior Vice President and member of the Arianespace Executive Committee.
In this capacity, he manages the overall Vega activities and controls its associated Profit & Loss.
From January 2009 until March 2016 he served at the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) as Launch Services Manager. He previously covered different
positions in industry, he began his career in Cannes, at Alcatel Space Industries, as mechanical engineer on telecom satellite projects and then joined ELV (European Launch Vehicle, an AVIO and A.S.I. company) in 2003 were he was later appointed Head of Mechanical Systems Development in the frame of the Vega development program. Before joining EUMETSAT he was also Head of the launcher design department at AVIO.
Marino Fragnito has a MSc. (Laurea Magistrale) in Aeronautical Engineering and holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Science and Technology.
Jarrod is the Director of Rideshare Sales at SpaceX responsible for sales and commercial business development efforts for SpaceX’s small satellite rideshare customers. In this role, he focuses on deepening the relationship between SpaceX and the worldwide small satellite community. SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program provides small satellite operators with competitive pricing, increased flight opportunities, flexibility, turnkey service and—most importantly—a ride to space on the world’s most advanced and proven launch vehicles.
Jarrod holds a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.
Mr. Simpson is a 41-year veteran in the aerospace and defense industry. Mr. Simpson is currently serving as the Chief Strategy Officer for Virgin Orbit moving from the Virgin Orbit Board. Prior to joining Virgin Orbit, Mr. Simpson was CEO for the start-up Saturn Satellite Networks Inc with the objective to provide economical space communications at the “National” level. Providing Countries or private entities communications intra-Nation. In addition, Mr. Simpson as a casual consultant to the LinQuest Corporation supported the Principal Assistant US Secretary of the Air Force for Space for Space related matters.
Mr. Simpson recently served as the CEO and member of the Board of Directors for ABS Satellites. Prior to joining ABS, Mr. Simpson spent 2 years as the Aerojet Rocketdyne Corporate Senior Vice President of Strategy & Business Development. Mr. Simpson lead the Aerojet Rocketdyne organization responsible for business development and strategy, with ownership of the business acquisition process, new business pursuits, product marketing, and the development the annual and long- range strategic plans as well as mergers and acquisitions for the company.
Prior to joining Aerojet Rocketdyne, he retired from The Boeing Company after 35 years. Mr. Simpson served as the vice president of Business Development & Strategy for Network and Space Systems at Boeing Defense, Space & Security prior to retirement. In this position, he was responsible for customer engagement, new business, advocacy and marketing efforts, research and development investments, mergers and acquisitions, business unit strategy and leadership development.
Mr. Simpson has held numerous senior leadership positions during his career at Boeing, serving as the president of Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc., president of Boeing Commercial Satellite Services Inc., and vice president of Commercial Satellite Systems for Space and Intelligence Systems (S&IS) within Boeing Network and Space Systems. In 2013, he was responsible for leading the general management of all Boeing commercial satellites, ground systems and services. He also led the company’s efforts in a variety of commercial satellite systems, including Intelsat, Inmarsat, ViaSat, MEXSAT and SES, a joint procurement contract from Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) and Satélites Mexicanos (Satmex).
As vice president of Boeing in 1998, Mr. Simpson was involved in a variety of strategic business areas within Boeing’s space business, which encompassed Boeing’s Launch & Satellite systems unit, Sea Launch, Expendable Launch Systems, and Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power business units.
Mr. Simpson received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He also holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Materials Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a graduate certificate in Engineering Management from the California Institute of Technology. In addition, he currently serves as an AIAA member and is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society