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March 10, 2020

Johns Hopkins APL Named One of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Space Companies

Fast Company named Johns Hopkins APL as one of the 2020 Most Innovative Companies in Space for its leadership on and design of the Dragonfly mission — an upcoming rotorcraft-lander expedition to Saturn’s large, mysterious moon Titan.

Credit: Fast Company


Artist rendering of Dragonfly on Titan’s surface.

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, has been named fourth on Fast Company’s list of the Top 10 Most Innovative Space Companies for Dragonfly, an upcoming rotorcraft-lander expedition to Saturn’s large, mysterious moon Titan.

The list, which also features SpaceX and Swarm Technologies, “honors the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture, showcasing a variety of ways to thrive in today’s fast-changing world.”

APL is leading the Dragonfly mission — from design and build to the bold, game-changing exploration of Titan. Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2026 and reach Titan in 2034. Dragonfly will help unravel some of the most critical mysteries of planetary science, including, possibly, the keys to the origin of life on Earth. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is considered the most Earth-like world in the solar system, and Dragonfly will explore environments from sand dunes to a crater floor where liquid water and complex organic materials — key ingredients of life as we know it — once existed together.

Dragonfly is one of many innovative space exploration missions that APL has created and managed for NASA. Currently delivering science are the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, and the Parker Solar Probe mission to the Sun. DART, the first planetary defense mission, launches in 2021; the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) is scheduled for launch in 2024; and, in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Europa Clipper will make multiple flybys of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

“The entire Lab is incredibly proud of our achievements in space exploration over the past sixty years, and it is an honor to be named again to Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies in Space,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “We take great pride in designing and executing bold solutions to answer the most foundational questions about life and our place in the cosmos.”

This is APL’s third appearance on a Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list — first appearing as the fifth-most innovative company in health care for its work on DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in 2016, and appearing again in 2018 in the space category for the design and construction of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. APL was also named as one of Fast Company’s inaugural 50 Best Workplaces for Innovators, in 2019.

Media contact: Sylvie Porter, 240-592-2887,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

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