Poway, CA (December 14, 2006) – Retired NASA astronaut, decorated Naval pilot and Vietnam veteran Robert “Hoot” Gibson has joined Benson Space Company (BSC) as chief operating officer and chief test pilot, effective immediately. Gibson will help lead the new personal spaceflight venture, recently established by SpaceDev (OTCBB: SPDV) founder Jim Benson, which seeks to provide the first, safest and lowest cost astronaut-making spaceflights for the emerging space tourism market.

“In his experience and skill as a Shuttle pilot and commander, and with his knowledge of spaceflight operations, Hoot Gibson is unparalleled,” stated Jim Benson. “I am pleased to welcome Hoot as our COO and chief test pilot as Benson Space Company races forward to make the concept of personal spaceflight a reality for everyone.”

Astronaut Gibson’s first activity at Benson Space will be to manage the recently awarded contract with SpaceDev for the Phase I work on the Dream Chaser spaceship. Hoot will also begin preparing a spaceship flight test program and a set of preliminary flight operations guidelines and procedures for the commercial operation of Dream Chasers.

From 1979-1995, Gibson flew five NASA missions, spending over 36 days in space. On his fourth space flight, the 50th Space Shuttle mission, he served as spacecraft commander aboard the Orbiter Endeavor. He also commanded a crew of ten – six from the U.S. and four from Russia – in the first Space Shuttle mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. While with NASA, Gibson served as chief of the Astronaut Office, as deputy director of Flight Crew Operations and as a team investigator into the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. Gibson continues to prove his mettle in the sky, competing in Unlimited Class air racing and, two years ago, setting a new world speed record in Raytheon’s Beechcraft Premier I, the world’s fastest single-pilot business jet. A graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons (a/k/a “Top Gun”) School, his numerous honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.