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The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Bernard Kutter

Bernard Kutter of United Launch Alliance died unexpectedly on August 12, 2020.

Manager of Advanced Programs for United Launch Alliance was a Force in NewSpace

I want to help humans use space to better our lives and enhance our understanding of the universe.”
— Bernard Kutter of United Launch Alliance
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S., August 13, 2020 / -- Bernard Kutter, the Manager of Advanced Programs at United Launch Alliance, passed away unexpectedly on August 12 from a reported heart attack.

Kutter was considered a brilliant engineer and was pivotal in the design and oversight of ULA’s new Vulcan rocket, the successor to the venerable Atlas V and Delta Heavy IV rockets and ULA’s first ground-up rocket design. Kutter was also an architect of ULA’s “Cislunar 1000” plan, which aims to put 1000 people into space by 2045. He additionally hosted the popular cislunar workshops sponsored by ULA for members of the space community.

“Bernard was a gifted aerospace engineer and a strong advocate for a thriving human presence in space,” said Hoyt Davidson, the founder of Near Earth LLC and a board member of the National Space Society (NSS). “His untimely death robs us of decades of important contributions.”

Greg Autry, the NSS’s Vice President of Space development, echoed the sentiment: “Bernard represented everything I love about the space industry. He was brilliant, engaging, kind, and supportive of everyone. He was far too young to go and his loss will be deeply felt.”

Bruce Pittman, the Senior Operating Officer of the NSS, said, “Bernard was not only a great engineer but also a remarkable human being—warm, caring, helpful and hopeful. He was a good friend and he will be dearly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and his friends and colleagues at ULA.”

Other friends and co-workers took to social media to lament the loss of Kutter within hours, characterizing him as an “unsung hero” of NewSpace, a “great mentor,” a “kind and ethical man,” and a “visionary.” His contributions to the spaceflight community were impressive, and the Vulcan rocket will be an integral part of his legacy. As Kutter said on his Linkedin profile, “I want to help humans use space to better our lives and enhance our understanding of the universe.”

The National Space Society was founded in 1987 via a merger of the National Space Institute, founded by NASA’s Wernher von Braun, and the L5 Society, based on the work of space settlement pioneer Gerard K. O’Neill. The NSS is the preeminent citizen's voice on space exploration and development. To learn more about the NSS and its mission to establish humanity as a spacefaring species, visit us on the web at

Bruce Pittman
National Space Society
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