Hello! I last had anything resembling a personal website back in 2004. I maintained my domains all this time but personal websites just feel like an exercise in ego that everyone is “supposed” to do. Of course, it’s 2019 and all about branding these days. Besides, it is easier to point people to a URL when they ask about my history, past work and matters such as that. It’s easier than trolling LinkedIn anyway!
Before I address what I’m currently working on, I have to mention that previously, I was President and COO at Aphelion Orbitals, Inc. Aphelion was a small startup launch company that was developing a dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle – Helios, a family of cubesats – Cassiopeia, and a unique launch service model. We worked for three years since our two original founders started talking about the concept in late 2015. We built into a 5-person founding team and incorporated in early 2017. We were fortunate enough to secure Seed funding from a supportive team of VC investors and worked for the next year and a half to bring our novel “green” propulsion system to full development.
The greatest accomplishment was that, under my leadership and that of the other founders (or perhaps despite my leadership sometimes), we fully matured a new propellant that has never been used on a launch vehicle before, despite research and lab-scale experimentation over the past 20 years. Aphelion was the first to prove its viability, safety and economics at flight scale. I’m extremely proud of that innovation and all of our team who worked so hard and with heroic dedication to make it happen.
But, as happens all too often, Aphelion’s lifespan was short, not due to technical reasons. We simply reached the end of our Seed runway and didn’t have enough time to complete negotiations for further investment.
On the blog here, I’ll be addressing various lessons learned and anecdotes from Aphelion’s history as well as other ventures I’ve been fortunate to be involved with over the past twenty-plus years.
Currently, I am working with a couple innovative startup companies, also in the launch arena. There’s no connection to Aphelion although both of them are pursuing the same propellant type that we developed. There will be a lot more information about these companies over the coming months in 2019 as the organizations, infrastructure and plans mature and we can begin to peek our heads out of “stealth mode”. There’s a lot of exciting work that we’re eager to share when the time is right!
I am a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois (College of Engineering). I did my studies at an exciting time in the 1990’s that saw the invention of the World Wide Web, smartphones and the technologies that are part of our daily lives now. I was tremendously fortunate to be employed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications during this period. I worked in the Software Development Group. Most people don’t know the history, but my group of approximately 6 people created the first web server and browser that became widely used. Our work formed the basis of everything that has come since, so that’s a legacy I take pride in. We also kickstarted the dotcom boom, which went bust in spectacular fashion and so… maybe not so proud of that.
When I’m not trying to earn a living launching things into space, I am deeply involved with a non-profit organization I founded in 2003. For the past 16 years, the Aerospace Research & Engineering Systems Institute, Inc. has worked to promote space exploration and STEM education among the public around the world. We’ve been able to influence and mentor many talented kids over the years and while I have never earned a dime from the organization (unlike the founders of many so-called “non-profit” organizations) it’s been among the most rewarding experiences. Our work continues still and will into the future.
That’s enough about me. As I said, I don’t enjoy exercises in ego. My work can tell its story just fine. However, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want to discuss anything about space, the space industry or #startuplife!