DR. Shawn H. Phillips

Chief of the Rocket Propulsion Division within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RQR) at Edwards AFB, CA.
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Dr. Shawn H. Phillips is Chief of the Rocket Propulsion Division within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RQR) at Edwards AFB, CA. He oversees all research, development and testing at the $10.2B AFRL Rocket Lab, encompassing over 65-sq miles, 19 major rocket test stands, 440+ personnel and 136 buildings. Research efforts encompass Space Access, In-Space Propulsion, and solid rocket motors for Strategic, Tactical and Hypersonic Boosters. Dr. Phillips has 24 years of government service (all spent at the AFRL Rocket Lab), holding 10 patents and more than 28 publications in R&D and applied technology fields. He is also the author of 4 sci-fi/fantasy novels.

Dr. Phillips entered the Department of Defense Civil Service in May 1998 after employment as a Co-Team Lead for New Adipic Acid Routes and performing synthetic chemistry in the Nylon Intermediates and Specialty Division for DuPont, DuPont Nylon ESL. While at Edwards AFB, he has directed the polymer working group, the Materials Application Branch, the Liquid Rocket Engines Branch, and served as the Deputy Chief of the Rocket Propulsion Division.


1992  Hope College, Holland, MI; B.S., Chemistry, May 1992

1996  U of California, Irvine; Ph.D., Organometallic/Inorganic Chemistry

2008  Air War College with Strategic Leadership Focus

2019  Federal Executive Institute, Senior Leadership Course

APDP SPRDE Level III certified

APDP Science & Technical Management Level III certified


1. May 1998-Present Edwards Air Force Base (AFRL/RQR) 

  • Chief, Rocket Propulsion Division 12/15-present:Oversees RDT&E portfolio for solid rocket motors, space access, and in-space propulsion at the AFRL Rocket Lab with an annual budget of >$100M/yr
  • Deputy Chief, Rocket Propulsion Division AFRL/RQR, 10/08-12/15:Chief Operations Officer for 440+ personnel at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s $10.2B, 65 square-mile rocket propulsion facility.
  • Chief, Liquid Rocket Engines Branch AFRL/RZSE, 1/05- 9/08:Directed $20M/yr R&D liquid rocket engine portfolio for near-term and long-term efforts on boost/upper stage engines, to include space access efforts
  • Chief, Material Applications Branch AFRL/RZSM, 08/01-1/05:Led 3 research groups (>30 people, 20 S&Es) and >$5.25M/yr effort in the development and application of new materials for rocket propulsion technology
  • Project Leader and Research Scientist of Polymeric Materials Group, 5/98 – 08/01

2.  January 1997- May 1998 DuPont, DuPont Nylon ESL, 1/97 - 5/98


2013 AFRL Organization Diversification Award; long-standing leader & member of diversity panels

2012 AFRL/RQ Military Reservist Supervisor of the Year Award

2008 SAB best presentation award in directorate’s semi-annual review

2007 Edwards AFB Contracting Team of the Year Award – led $109M procurement

2002 & 2004 World Class Ranking for Materials R&D by Air Force’s SAB

2003 US Air Force Nominee for Arthur S. Flemming Award for excellence in research

2001 Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award

2000 AFRL Propulsion Directorate Program Manager of the Year

2000 AFOSR Star Team - given to the top 3% of Air Force basic research groups