Introduction to Some New Team Members

Before I jump into what we did today, I figured I’d give a quick intro to some of the people I’ve brought on at Altius, and some of the people who are helping with the project.

New Altius Employees
First, we have Mike Judson. If you’ve seen any of our youtubes, you’ve seen Mike. I met Mike 8 or 9 years ago when I was TAing the machine shop portion of the Manufacturing Processes class at BYU. Mike was a high-schooler at the time, and he and a friend had won the opportunity to build and fly a seed growth centrifuge as a GetAway Special on the Space Shuttle. Mike also ended up interning with us at Masten last summer, and was the guy who introduced me to SRI’s electroadhesion technology. I ended up roping him into helping me write the Sticky Boom SBIR proposal we won, and hired him as a part-time student engineer back in February when we got the contract. He’s currently finishing up his last classes for his Bachelor’s degree out at Utah State. He went out with me to California over his Spring Break to help me put together the first sticky boom prototype, and has been a key part of the team ever since.

Second we have Kirk Dameron. Kirk was a semi-retired project manager from the high-tech industry here in Denver. He’s worked a lot of technology development, computer hardware, and computer software projects, and has been following the space industry for many years. I brought Kirk on at least temporarily as the Project Manager for Sticky Boom, and it’s been great having someone I can just hand details over to with the knowledge that he’ll get them done without me even knowing about them. Kirk’s an electrical engineer by training, and will be heading up the electronics/controls team.

Our most recent addition to the Altius team is “AJ” Hoyt, a mechanism guru. AJ has a long history in aerospace mechanical design, including many years at MacDonnell Douglas working on Delta-II and ISS, and also at Starsys/SpaceDev/SNC on various mechanism projects. He’s also an avid racer, and even designed and patented his own new internal combustion engine cycle. AJ also spent many years working for MSC on their Adams motion analysis software, as a trainer and also as a consultant for a wide range of aerospace and industrial projects.

Next, we have Forrest Ryan. He’s joining us as an electrical engineering intern this summer, and will be working with Kirk on the electronics/controls for sticky boom.

We also have Steve Decker who will be interning with us this summer. He’s been working with Mike back at USU on a lot of this Sticky Boom work, and is working on a Masters in Aerospace Engineering there, with his thesis looking like it may involve some of the orbital mechanics aspects of Sticky Boom Rendezvous. Steve comes from a manufacturing and mechanical background and has also been involved a lot in prototype fabrication with Mike.

Outside Help
Kirk also introduced us to two former colleagues of his who run an Embedded Programming startup, Red Rock Systems. Dave and Paul seem really sharp, and have decades of experience in high-reliability embedded programming. They’ll be working with Kirk and Forrest to help put together the electronics/controls setup for the Sticky Boom. While our bare minimum requirements can likely be met with just discrete components, the ability to do at least some data acquisition and data logging will enable us to get a lot more practical data out of our ground and flight testing.

We also recently had our former next-door neighbor from Mojave, Brian Bernhard of Bernhard Systems collocate with us here in Louisville. He does electrical engineering, and has built hardware that is on Mars, worked on RCS controls for X33, and was one of the guys who helped us rewire Xoie overnight during the NGLLC. While he’s busy with many of his own projects, we may be tapping some of his expertise from time to time, and figured I ought to mention him.

Anyhow, I’m really happy with this team we’ve been pulling together. I never cease to be pleasantly surprised at the creativity, talent, and self-directedness of this group of individuals.