Intern Introduction, Some Updates, and Teases

It’s been a while since we’ve done any sort of update on the Altius blog, so I wanted to do a quick introduction to our three summer interns and the projects they’re working on. I will get some more pictures and do more frequent updates as time permits. Apologies in advance for having to be a bit of a tease about these projects. We should be free to talk more publicly about most of them fairly soon.

Kevin Ferrant: Orbital Dynamics Intern
Kevin is a grad student at CU Boulder working on his Master’s degree in Aerospace. He got his Bachelor’s in Aerospace from UT Austin. We brought Kevin on to start analyzing the orbital dynamics of using Sticky Boom™ for arrivals and departures from orbital facilities such as the ISS. We were able to get a good deal from AGI on their STK/Astrogator software for the summer, so Kevin has been working with Astrogator and with some numerical simulations in Matlab using the Clohessy-Wiltshire equations for relative motion, primarily focused so far on departures of micro-return vehicles from the station. We’d like to thank two mentors who Kevin has been working with: Mike Loucks of Space Exploration Engineering Corp. (who is a flight dynamics guru who’s been involved with LADEE, IBEX, and many other missions) and Dr David Geller of Utah State University.

We have a Sticky Boom™-related project we hope to be announcing in the coming weeks that will be using Kevin’s orbital dynamics work as one of the inputs.

Peter Brun: Mechanical Engineering
Peter is a Junior in Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder, with previous Bachelor’s degrees in Digital Fine Arts and Photography from the University of Washington. Peter has a pretty impressive portfolio site highlighting a lot of the electromechanical projects he has done over the years including building his own CNC machine tools and building moving art systems some of which have been on display at the Louvre! Peter is currently working with Mike Judson on a project to do some preliminary prototyping on a synthetic Gecko-adhesive gripper that ultimately we hope will be able to conform to and grip arbitrary objects in space for Sticky Boom™ and other related applications. Peter put together a simple microcontroller-based DAQ system for the tensile test rig he and Mike designed and built over the past two weeks.

Nathan Mogk: Mechanical/Materials Science Intern
I met Nathan at the SEDS Student Business Plan Competition this last fall, and ran into him again at the Space Access conference down in Phoenix in April. He recently graduated from the University of Arizona with dual Bachelors degrees in Materials Science and Mathematics. Nathan is working with me on a project I briefly hinted at during my Space Access presentation, which will be testing out a novel manufacturing process that may be useful for a wide range of aerospace and non-aerospace applications (including STEM booms, rocket propellant tanks, rocket engines, aircraft structures, car frames, and even high-end sports equipment). I’ve been researching the idea and laying the groundwork for this for most of the time we’ve had Altius running, but Nathan will be helping us develop and hopefully implement the proof-of-concept test plan to help us figure out if my crazy idea can actually be made to work.


Anyhow, I wanted to introduce the interns while we were still relatively early in the summer. I’ll hopefully be able to talk more about their projects in the coming days and weeks. But for now, you at least have a teaser of what we’ll be up to this summer.