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Obituary: Dean Olmstead; Industry Memorial Service Planned

Thursday, November 11, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Robert Bell
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Dean Olmstead, president of EchoStar Satellite Services and an executive who during his career played a leading role in the global satellite industry’s consolidation, died Oct. 16 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 55.

During his 26-year career in the satellite industry, Olmstead held leadership positions with EchoStar Satellite Services, SES Global, Arrowhead Global Solutions, Loral Space & Communications, DirecTV, and Hughes Electronics. While at SES, he developed the strategy and led the acquisitions that transformed SES from a European fixed-satellite services operator into one of the world’s top two satellite services companies.

Earlier in his career, Olmstead worked as Deputy Director of the Satellite and Cable Policy Branch of the U.S. State Department. He then moved to NASA, where he was chief of the Advanced Communications Branch and program manager for the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS), the first Ka-band system with on-board processing. His work at NASA led to his being inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1997.

"Dean will be remembered as a true legend in the satellite industry and will remain an eternal inspiration for our employees," said Mike Dugan, CEO and President of EchoStar Corporation, in a statement. "Dean was a visionary who helped reshape the entire industry. His accomplishments at EchoStar and through his esteemed career have created the base upon which others will build for years to come."

Olmstead was born July 3, 1955, in Oak Harbor, WA on Whidbey Island. He attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, where he received an undergraduate degree in economics and mathematics in 1979. He earned an M.S. in Engineering Economic Systems from Stanford University in 1983. He had also completed Ph.D. studies in economics at American University.

After beginning his career with the Federal government, Olmstead left NASA in 1992 to join Hughes Communications, a unit of General Motors Hughes Electronics. He held a number of positions with the company in Los Angeles and Asia over the next five years. He moved to Japan in 1993 to facilitate the new partnership between Hughes and JCSAT Inc., Japan’s first commercial satellite communications company. A year later he was named managing director of Hughes Hong Kong Ltd. Olmstead returned to Japan in 1996 as executive vice president of engineering for DirecTV Japan, designing, installing and operating the world's first all-digital satellite broadcast center.

In 1998, Olmstead joined SES Astra in Luxembourg and became a member of the management committee. At SES Astra, he orchestrated the company's purchase of a one-third interest in AsiaSat and then led the team that resulted in SES acquiring GE Americom, subsequently renamed SES Americom. In 2001, he moved to Princeton, NJ, to become president and CEO of SES Americom. He conceived of the industry’s first long-term contract for multiple satellite launches; led the acquisition by Americom of Verestar; and moved Americom into several new market segments.

Olmstead’s corporate acquisition experience drew the attention of other companies in the industry, and he was recruited in 2005 to join Arrowhead Government Solutions of Falls Church and lead the successful merger of Arrowhead with Houston-based CapRock. He also formed Satellite Development LLC to advise clients on strategic growth initiatives and mergers. He was instrumental in arranging the 2008 acquisition of Canada’s Telesat by Loral. Olmstead joined EchoStar in 2008 to lead strategic development of the satellite operating company after it was spun off from the DISH Network.

Olmstead is survived by his wife Mara of Princeton; two sons, Tyler and Zachary; three daughters, Kaitlin, Marin, and Sarah; his parents Edward and Lou Olmstead; two brothers, William and Douglas; and a sister, Cynthia.

A family service is being held in Seattle, WA. A public memorial service will be held at Intelsat headquarters in Washington, D.C. on November 17 at 3:00PM. NOTE: Those wishing to attend the November 17 service should RSVP to:  rsvpdean@yahoo.com.

The family has asked that donations in Olmstead’s memory be made to the SSPI Scholarship fund and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation:

Inquiries and donations to the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation can be sent to:
Timothy Logue
Treasurer
Arthur C. Clarke Foundation
3822 Cobblestone Court
Alexandria, VA 22306
logue.tim@gmail.com

or the Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) Dean Olmstead Scholarship Fund, 55 Broad Street, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10004.

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