Kiko Dontchev is a Manager of Dragon Development Engineering at SpaceX. Kiko joined SpaceX in May 2010 leading development of Lithium Ion batteries for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. In 2013, he took on the role of lead engineer driving the design and build of the first engineering test vehicle for Dragon 2, SpaceX’s next-generation crewed spacecraft. In 2015, Kiko led the execution of a successful Pad Abort Test with the test vehicle, a key demonstration for ensuring astronaut safety during human spaceflight. For this effort, Kiko received the RNASA Stellar Award for early career achievement. Kiko went on to manage a follow-on test later that year of the vehicle’s precision, propulsive landing capability at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, TX. Currently, Kiko leads the development of the Red Dragon vehicle, a version of Dragon 2 that SpaceX will send to Mars, while continuing to help drive the completion of the crewed Dragon 2 vehicle to enable human spaceflight.
Although born in Bulgaria, Kiko moved to Ann Arbor when he was three. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSE in Aerospace Engineering in 2008 and a MEng in Space Systems in 2010. While at Michigan, he started the school’s first ever CubeSatellte project and laid the foundation for the multiple follow-on missions currently operational in orbit. In his free time, he is an avid Michigan football fan and outdoor enthusiast, including surfing, skiing, backpacking and fishing