3D printing transforms rocketry in Florida

3D Printing Transforms Rocketry in Florida.

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 3D printing technology is changing the way rockets are made and the way Florida space companies do business.

By Paul Brinkmann
This article was originally published at United Press International

ORLANDO, Fla., July 23 (UPI) — On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 3D printing technology is changing the way rockets are made and the way Florida space companies do business.

Significant new space companies or related technology endeavors in central Florida are building entire rockets, rocket fuel and even human tissue using the printers, which spit out different materials in computer-controlled patterns to form solid, three-dimensional objects.

At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, rocket company Relativity Space is renovating Launch Complex 16 with a goal of this year launching a rocket — the Terran 1 — that is 95 percent made of 3D printed parts. Nearby in Cocoa, another company, Rocket Crafters, is printing plastic fuel cores for hybrid rocket engines.

And next to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, 3D printing company nScrypt is working with biotech experts to print a mesh, called scaffolding, that allows human stem cells to grow into various organs and human tissue.

A printer made by nScrypt is traveling to the International Space Station to test the benefits of printing soft tissue in micro-gravity. The company makes printers that can print circuit boards, specialized antennas and various other high-tech items. In the office, it even has a “printer” that spits out a finished pancake.

“People want the replicator from Star Trek that can make your meal,” nScrypt founder and CEO Ken Church said. “We’re not there yet, but we are going to print your cellphone.” The company employs 60 people and sells printers for up to $400,000.

Printing an entire rocket is the goal at Relativity Space, said Chief Technology Officer Jordan Noone. He and several others at the company formerly worked at SpaceX.

“When we started the company three years ago, our vision was to have 3-D-printed rockets on Mars,” Noone said. “Having a 3D printer will be essential for a colony on another planet, and we want it to be able to use whatever material is available there. You probably won’t have a metallurgist there, but the printer will know how to use whatever metal is found on Mars.”

Relativity couldn’t find the kind of printers it needed to build rockets, so it designed its own. The largest, called Stargate, takes up a two-story space in a building at the company headquarters in Los Angeles.

“They’ve done big printers before, but not like this and not with metal,” Noone said.

The metal is fed into the printer as a wire. Inside the printer, the metal is melted under high temperature. When it emerges, it cools rapidly, fusing in a strong bond with the rest of the structure.

Noone said the company is allied with SpaceX founder Elon Musk‘s vision to send people to Mars.

“I think SpaceX will do it, but I think there’s a ton of things needed if we’re really going to have a Mars civilization,” Noone said.

The goal is to get the entire Terran 1 rocket assembly time down to 60 days. Noone said the industry average currently is 18 months to build a rocket. Relativity Space has already test-fired its 3D printed Aeon engine.

Rocket Crafters also is aiming at a test flight for its Intrepid-1 rocket using its branded engine, the Star-3D, by the end of 2019.

Company president Rob Fabian says printing the plastic fuel core of the engine makes it more reliable and smoother burning than other solid fuels.

As a hybrid fuel engine, the company says its engines will be safer and easier to terminate in the event of a problem, as the ignition and burning of the fuel only occurs under very specific conditions.

Source: UPI.

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Grant Begley is an aerospace leader in the highly specialized fields of manned systems, unmanned systems, and robotic systems. As an aerospace executive and consultant, his work results in the enablement of next generation capabilities.  Begley is an accomplished initiator, developer, implementer and advisor of strategic planning, business development, resource obtainment, executive program management and technology insertion.

Grant, who has active security clearances, has enabled compelling new aerospace capabilities, future products and successes contributing to defense, national security and commercial applications for the federal government, Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, state governments, defense industry and the global private sectors.

Grant has successfully led the development of National Space Programs, from concept, to achieving compelling operational capabilities.

As a Certified Acquisition Executive, Grant advises global executive clients on competitive positioning, performance, and resolution of complex challenges leading to dramatic improvements.

Grant contributed to the development of the “Roadmap for U. S. Robotics 2013”, a White House initiative, as opening speaker and Team Leader. He served as Pentagon Senior Advisor – for Unmanned Systems, to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

In ’14 Grant became an Advisory Board Member for RCI.  He has been a member of the Executive Board since late ’15.



Paul Larsen earned his BS in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy, and his MBA from the Harvard School of business, specializing in Small Business Development and Small Business Operations.

Paul served for over 30 years as an Air Force and Federal Civil Service Price/Cost analyst, and a Procuring Contracting Officer (PCO); he held an unlimited warrant.

While with Air Force Material Command, Paul oversaw Contracting efforts for Minute-Man II Motor Wash-Out and Refurbishment; was Chief, Pricing and Finance Division; and President, University of Hill (Hill Air Force Base). Assignments during this time include Pricing Volume Manager for a complex $1.5b Air Force Pricing effort involving over 1,000 separate contract line items, each with four quantity ranges with firm fixed pricing for 10 years; Senior Price/Cost Analyst for major Program Depot Maintenance (PDM) contracts with European contractors to identify and repair structural and aircraft components for US jet fighter assets in the European Theater; working with several universities and colleges to improve and deliver education programs to Hill Air Force Base military and civilian employees; Pricing and Cost Analysis policy for the Command at Headquarters Air Force Material Command.

In ’10, Paul, Ron Jones, and Steve Edwards co-founded Rocket Crafters Inc. Today Paul serves as Vice Chairman and Treasurer. With his experience negotiating contracts and pricing, recruiting, managing, consulting and training government cost analysts, he brings to this position experience, leadership and focus that allows him to analyze and drive down costs to meet RCI’s financial and program goals.


Rob Fabian earned a BS in Space Operations from the United States Air Force Academy, beginning a distinguished 25-year military career in both space operations and ballistic missile maintenance.

Rob worked extensively with the Air Force’s ICBM fleets, leading field repair and sustainment efforts on both the Minuteman III and Peacekeeper missiles as well as coordinating operations between the ICBM repair depot, acquisition program office, and the supporting logistics supply chain.  As a space operations officer, his responsibilities spanned the gamut from day-to-day satellite tracking to planning and policy work at the highest levels of the government, including developing a 20-year roadmap for future space control system acquisitions and coordinating military and civil space policy issues across multiple Federal agencies.

In addition to his technical degree and extensive space and rocketry experience, Rob earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College – Summa Cum Laude.  His work has been published in the Proceedings of the Naval Institute and Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy and he spent a year as an Air Force Fellow at RAND.

After retiring from the Air Force in ’13 Rob joined Rocket Crafters’ Advisory Board as a subject matter expert in rocket motors, military acquisitions, and military space operations.  At the same time he began working with BAE Systems providing acquisition and program management assistance and advice to the Minuteman III ICBM program office, further deepening his insight into government acquisitions.

In March ’14 the company appointed Rob as Senior Vice President – Propulsion assuming responsibility for the company’s rocket engine development program.  Later that year he was appointed to the Board of Directors.  In the Spring of 2018 he was appointed as President of the company, expanding his focus to oversight of all day-to-day operations within Rocket Crafters while continuing his hands on leadership of the rocket engine development program.

Rob brings a proven track record managing the personnel, constrained budgets, and highly complex processes will be crucial in bringing RCI’s innovative new rocket motors to market.  His in-depth space operations and policy experience within the Department of Defense and across other Federal agencies will be of great help as the company continues to grow and expand its customer base.



Sean Mirsky is an expert in Macro Economic Event and Algorithmic Trading infrastructure.

He is the founder and CEO of the ZNES Group, which uses its resources to invest in forward looking “development stage” opportunities that typically have their roots in space commerce, yet have some meaningful connection to trading.

Prior to that, Sean developed and co-led the global microwave network efforts of Jump Trading as Director and Chief Architect, achieving superiority in speed between US and European Trading locations.  He also served as an embedded infrastructure specialist to key trading teams at Infinium Capital Management and Goldman Sachs.

On the Board of Directors of Rocket Crafters Inc., Sean is currently involved with commercializing patented 3D-Printed Rocket fuel and other breakthrough technologies for delivering Small Satellite (“SmallSat”) payloads to the precise orbit specified by each client.

Sean initially joined RCI’s Advisory Board, and in May ’16 was elected as a Board Member.



Sid Gutierrez earned a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy – Distinguished Graduate – and an MA in Management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School and has completed a number of executive management courses at UCLA, MIT and Stanford.  In the Air Force he flew the F-15, F-16, T-38 and many other aircraft while serving as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and instructor pilot.  Sid joined NASA as an astronaut in the mid-80’s and in the early ‘90’s he served as the Pilot of Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-40 Spacelab Life Sciences – SLS-1, a dedicated space and life sciences mission), and Mission Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-59 Space Radar Laboratory  – SRL-1, part of Mission to Planet Earth). Both missions were recognized with the Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Award for outstanding achievement in the field of space.

Sid retired from the Air Force and NASA in ’94 and joined Sandia National Laboratories, where he served in various senior leadership positions.  As a Center Director he was responsible for programs introducing disruptive ideas and technologies into satellites, space payloads and sensors and vulnerability assessments and analysis tools.  He was responsible for a very successful half a billion dollar national security satellite system.  He led innovations in national programs including support to the nuclear fuel cycle and international efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Recognizing the potential of Rocket Crafters’ innovative technologies and ideas, in ’12 Sid joined RCI as a member of the Board of Directors. Committed to changing the way we access space, in February ’15 he retired from Sandia to become the CEO of Rocket Crafters and Chairman of the Board. He is responsible for working with the RCI Team to establish and implement the goals and objectives of the company.  In addition to serving on the Board of RCI, Sid serves, or has served, on the boards of other for-profit corporations and a number of not-for- profit organizations, a state technical university, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and a Presidential Commission.


Schraeder is a well-respected venture capitalist and television personality. He has dedicated his life to business investment and development. With an educational focus in chemistry and mathematics from Fort Hayes Kansas State University, Schraeder understands the economic impact, as well as the need, for emerging and changing technology. His previous business experiences allow him to understand all aspects of manufacturing, distribution, and management.