VP, Head of Project Management Excellence, Airbus Defence and Space
Bas Theelen is the Vice President of the Airbus Defence and Space and the head of the Programme Management Centre of Excellence. With more than 25 years of experience in PM, he has been in charge of several international space programmes.
He has driven Airbus' ambition for human spaceflight as Programme Manager for Europe’s contribution to NASA’s Artemis programme, returning humankind to the Moon and beyond to Mars. The Orion spacecraft will bring the first woman and first person of colour to Moon. Its European Service Module, built for the European Space Agency, provides the thrust and power for the spacecraft, as well as water and oxygen for the astronauts. During its first mission in November 2023, NASA stated that “the spacecraft is exceeding expectations”.
Prior to that, Bas was in charge of the Avionics subsystem of the first Galileo satellites, the European equivalent to the US GPS system, providing autonomous navigation and Search and Rescue services globally. He also led the EDRS programme, where he oversaw the creation of the world’s first space-based laser communication system. Dubbed the ‘SpaceDataHighway’, it helps Earth-observing satellites to transmit large quantities of potentially life-saving data down to Europe in near-real time.
As the projects he took on became larger and more complex, he appreciated the increasing importance of team dynamics in a multi-cultural and high-tech setting. The unforgiving space environment and the never-done-before nature of many missions, requiring new technology to be developed, strengthen its importance. It also became apparent how a Project Manager is in a unique position to influence the project’s team culture, and hence its performance. This motivated him to move to his current position as the head of the Programme Management Centre of Excellence, helping to develop the next generation of project management teams in Airbus Defence and Space.
Bas holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and a post-graduate master’s degree in Space Systems Engineering from Delt University of Technology in The Netherlands.
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