Matthew Isakowitz was an extraordinary young man whose passion for opening the commercial space frontier was only matched by his kindness and generosity to those around him.

Despite leaving us far too soon, Matthew’s contributions left an outsized impact on the space community. Finding inspiration in Carl Sagan’s words, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known,” Matthew began exercising his passion in high school by serving on the XPRIZE Foundation during the flight of SpaceShipOne, the first privately piloted spacecraft. In college, Matthew worked on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto at the Applied Physics Lab, human space travel at Space Adventures, and the Dragon capsule at SpaceX. Matthew’s career took flight as Associate Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which contributed to the transformation of commercial space pioneers—such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic—into the notable players they are today. Afterwards, Matthew continued to push humanity’s frontiers as an entrepreneur and engineer at Planetary Resources and Astranis.

Matthew was granted early acceptance to Phi Beta Kappa Academic Honor Society and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University.  He also earned a Masters Degree in International Science and Technology Policy from George Washington University.  Matthew was a warm, compassionate, and generous person, who loved life to the fullest and whose enthusiasm for commercial space exploration inspired everyone who knew him.


Read below what Matthew meant to those in the space community... 

Matthew reminds me of myself. Someone who, early in their life, identified space as their primary passion. Someone who was always asking how we can do more, go faster.  It was because of Matthew and his passion that the XPRIZE actually got the attention of NASA, a sequence of events that led to the creation of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. Rather than choose the traditional path, Matthew lived the space entrepreneur’s dream, a path that would ultimately bring him back into my life where he interned at both Space Adventures and Planetary Resources. It would be an honor and pleasure for me to host young space entrepreneurs with Matthew’s level of passion and dedication.
Matthew’s incredible intelligence and determination were exceeded in magnitude only by his purity of heart, his kindness, respect, compassion, and love. He was one in a million, and what he accomplished in his life was worthy of a much longer one. 
— ERIC ANDERSON, Co-founder and Chairman of Space Adventures Ltd
Matt was an integral part of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation in its formative years and was instrumental in building the organization and expanding its reach. Matt continued to demonstrate his commitment to the space industry as he worked with a number of CSF members and eventually took his vast talents to the aerospace start-up world. Matt was incredibly bright, and his passion and commitment to further space will not be forgotten.
— ERIC STALLMER, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Matt was a truly amazing guy, so genuine and so promising, and a fantastic contributor to the exploration of space. He was the best intern we ever had on NASA New Horizons to Pluto, and had a huge impact at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation where he was a senior staffer.
— ALAN STERN, Planetary scientist and space program executive
Matt was a shining star. His unbridled enthusiasm and love for space exploration was infectious. He always reminded me how lucky we all are in the commercial space industry to pursue our dreams. I consider myself fortunate to have known and worked with Matt. For every step the commercial space industry takes into the final frontier, we will carry a piece of Matt with us.
— MIKE GOLD, Vice President of Washington Operations, Space Systems Loral
Matthew was one of my graduate students in the International Science and Technology master’s degree program at George Washington University. He was a source of boundless energy, eagerly working toward the expansion of commercial space opportunities that he saw as imminent. As part of the program, students are required to do an independent study which is equivalent to a full semester class. When students ask to see past examples of independent research, I usually pull out Matthew’s outstanding analysis on the economics of using in-space resources. The mathematical modeling and detailed graphics are intimidating to some and not all students can (or should) do what he did, but the quality of the work and its infectious energy continue to set a high standard for graduate students of space policy.
— SCOTT PACE, Executive Secretary, National Space Council
Matthew brought not just brilliance to his work but he had this incredible ability to connect with people. To get them to see what he saw. It’s an extremely rare quality in an engineer.
— JOHN GEDMARK, Co-founder and CEO, Astranis