A lawyer who helped move imaginary spacecraft across the universe is now part of the executive team at Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. that hopes to put a pair of real NASA astronauts in orbit.
SpaceX general counsel David Anderman spent 16 years in-house at LucasFilm Ltd. before arriving late last year as Musk’s closely held enterprise was deep into its push to become the first U.S. private company to send a crew into space.
The mission, a test flight known as Demo-2, will see a SpaceX capsule called the Crew Dragon carry Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. On his LinkedIn profile, Anderman recently posted a link to a video of Discovery Channel coverage of the scheduled May 27 takeoff from a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., which was aborted due to weather and rescheduled for May 30.
Anderman didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about his top legal role at SpaceX, which has not previously been reported. While Anderman is not listed on SpaceX’s website, his position is noted on his LinkedIn page, as well as in federal government procurement records related to the Hawthorne, Calif.-based aerospace company, whose founder and CEO is Musk.
Musk has said on Twitter—a frequent platform for his musings—that is favorite science fiction film is Lucas’s original “Star Wars,” which debuted in 1977.
SpaceX’s Falcon rockets are named after the Millennium Falcon, the Han Solo-helmed starship made famous over myriad live-action and animated movies. During a press conference in January, Musk spoke about the heat shield on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, saying it could withstand a “fireball,” almost “like something out of ‘Star Wars.’”
Anderman, a former intellectual property litigator at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, joined LucasFilm as an associate director of business affairs in 1998. He was promoted a decade later to general counsel and subsequently also became LucasFilm’s COO, roles he would hold until the company was sold by its creator George Lucas for $4.05 billion in late 2012 to the Walt Disney Co.
After that deal, Anderman served as an executive vice president and chief counsel to LucasFilm under Disney. He left LucasFilm in 2014, reemerging the following year as chief business officer and general counsel for Jaunt Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based virtual reality startup that raised $100 million—from investors including Disney—before its September 2019 sale to Verizon Communications Inc.
SpaceX didn’t respond to a request for comment about when it officially hired Anderman, whose LinkedIn page and Twitter account show a stream of SpaceX-themed social media messages starting shortly before Verizon’s acquisition of Jaunt.
David Harris, who had been SpaceX’s acting general counsel, took over the role in early 2017 after former in-house legal chief Timothy Hughes became the company’s senior vice president for global business and government affairs.
Neither Harris nor Hughes responded to requests for comment.
The SpaceX launch rescheduled for May 30 would be the first orbital spaceflight to originate from U.S. soil since 2011.