FreeFall is developing revolutionary new antenna technology for ground, air, and space. Their innovative spherical antennas are drawing interest from a wide variety of commercial and government organizations, offering wide field of view, electronic steering, and low mass to dramatically simplify and improve satellite communications.
The company’s unique antennas for the coming 5G wireless world are unlike anything else on the market and enable high-frequency, steerable communications for Smart Cities, connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things. FreeFall was founded in Tucson as a spin-off from the University of Arizona and maintains a close connection with UA faculty and supporters.
Innovation Leader of the Year 2019 – FreeFall Aerospace
Inventor of the Year 2018 – Chris Walker, Co-Founder of FreeFall Aerospace
TechConnect Defense Innovation Awards 2017 & 2018
Doug Stetson is President and CEO of FreeFall Aerospace, a small business dedicated to advancing and developing innovative antenna technology for satellite communications and 5G internet applications. Prior to founding FreeFall in 2016, Doug spent nearly 30 years at the NASA Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in a variety of technical and management positions including several assignments at NASA Headquarters. At JPL, he had lead roles in systems engineering and mission design for a number of high-profile missions to Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and was responsible for
the development of new planetary mission concepts and programs. Doug led the development of a number of mission and technology “roadmaps” for the national science community and NASA, and established new initiatives for mission and system innovation and cost assessment. During his three tours at NASA Headquarters, Doug served as the deputy manager of the NASA Advanced Planning and Integration Office, coordinated development of the Agency’s 2003 Strategic Plan, and served as acting chief of Planetary Advanced Studies in the early 1990’s. After leaving JPL in 2008, Doug established the Space Science and Exploration Consulting Group and was project manager for the LightSail mission, a privately-funded Cubesat that successfully deployed and tested a solar sail in Earth orbit. Doug holds a B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
He is the recipient of a number of local and national awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the JPL Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Professor Christopher Walker has over 30 years of experience designing, building, and using state-of-the-art antenna and receiver systems for terahertz astronomy. Prof. Walker has published numerous papers on star formation and protostellar evolution. He has served as dissertation director for ten Ph.D. students and is a Topical Editor for IEEE Transactions on TeraHertz Science and Technology. Prof. Walker has worked in industry (TRW Aerospace and JPL) as well as academia. As a Millikan Fellow in Physics at Caltech, he worked on the development of low-noise, SIS waveguide receivers above 400 GHz and explored techniques for etching waveguide out of silicon.
On joining the UofA faculty in 1991, he began the Steward Observatory Radio Astronomy Lab (SORAL), which has become a world leader in developing THz receiver systems for astronomy and other remote sensing applications. Instruments developed by Prof. Walker’s team have served as primary facility instruments at the Heinrich Hertz Telescope on Mt. Graham, AZ and the AST/RO telescope at the South Pole. Prof. Walker led the effort to design and build the world’s largest (64 pixels) submillimeter-wave heterodyne array receiver.
He is PI of the NASA funded long duration balloon project “The Stratospheric THz Observatory (STO)’’, which had a successful Antarctic flight earlier this year. The follow-on project to STO, called GUSTO, was recently selected by NASA as the first balloon-borne mission under the auspices of the Explorer Program. He is also PI of the “10 meter Suborbital Large Balloon Reflector (LBR)” project, selected by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for a Phase I and II study. He recently authored Terahertz Astronomy, the first textbook in his field of study.
Alex Rodriguez is Chief Operations Officer at FreeFall Aerospace, an early-stage technology company that provides proprietary revolutionary intelligent antenna systems for space and ground data transmission. FreeFall’s unique antenna technology provides high data rate communication at virtually any frequency at a fraction of the size and cost of any existing solution. Alex recently served as Vice President of Government & External Relations at Vector Launch, Inc., a small-class rocket company, where he helped the Founding Team raise investment capital and win its first major government contract. Alex led Vector’s external relationships with international, national, state and local jurisdictions and spearheaded investor relations.
Alex served as Vice President of the Arizona Technology Council where he turned around and expanded Southern Arizona operations providing strategic value to over 800 technology businesses and organizations. Alex served as Facilitator of the Arizona Aerospace, Aviation and Defense CEO Network. Alex earned his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government with concentrations in International Trade and Finance and International Security in 1997. He obtained his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona in 1994 and is a graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute. He completed Army ROTC as a Distinguished Military Graduate, becoming an Army Officer at twenty years of age in 1991. Alex is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and completed a rigorous public policy institute at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management of Carnegie Mellon University in 1993.
Alex held significant leadership roles in business development and strategic planning for three Fortune 500 companies. At Raytheon, Alex lead a half-billion dollar spend portfolio in supply chain management. He led the national team that won a new multi-million dollar cooperative contract at W. W. Grainger, Inc. A former Term Member of the New York based Council on Foreign Relations, Alex served as a U.S. Department of Defense International Policy Advisor, Country Director and Special Assistant at the Pentagon, entering federal service by appointment as a Presidential Management Fellow. Locally, Alex was elected to serve on the Governing Board of the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) where he served as Board President, Clerk and Member of the Board.
Over the millennium, Alex was mobilized as a Captain in the U.S. Army for a tour-of-duty in support of Operation Joint Forge, the U.S. Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia & Herzegovina. His military decorations include the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Service Medal, NATO Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, Army Achievement Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster), National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Airborne Parachutist Badge. After college, Alex worked at the Arizona State Senate, the United Nations Association in New York City, and with the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador.
Alex was inducted to the Nogales High School Hall of Fame and named to the Arizona Daily Star 40 Under 40 Class in 2009. Alex appeared regularly on KMSB TV Fox News 11 providing expert commentary on economic, political and societal issues.
The son of a first-generation working class family, Alex was raised as the youngest of ten children and was the first child with the privilege to graduate from college. He is an avid reader, enjoys playing racquetball and playing the drums on his free time. Alex is married to the former Claudia Araiza and they are the proud parents of Emi Sofia, an avid performer with the Ballet Conservatory of Southern Arizona, and Alexander, who as an October 2019 newborn is purportedly the new one in charge at home!
Juan has thirty years of experience in applied physics and materials science, working in R&D, academics and manufacturing. His expertise includes chemical sensors, electrochemistry, optics, ultrasound and microwave spectroscopy. He developed solid state electrochemical sensors.
The past 16 years he has been providing Engineering and R&D cost effective solutions to small and mid-size companies.
Juan has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires and is fluent in Spanish, English and French.
Prior to joining FreeFall as CFO, Tom Brown served as CEO and CFO in private manufacturing companies and led several public education reform efforts in California. Tom was a co-founder of Beacon Education Network, later Ceiba Public Schools, in 2005 and served as its CEO until 2017, guiding the charter school organization in its mission to prepare low-income students in non-urban communities (predominantly first generation students) to graduate from four-year colleges and universities. Under Tom’s leadership, Ceiba became one of the top-performing public schools in the Monterey Bay (California) area. In 2012 Tom started the Ceiba Public Schools Foundation to provide scholarships and leadership development opportunities for students and staff from Ceiba Public Schools. Before Ceiba, Tom was Board President at Pacific Collegiate School, the top open admission public high school in California, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Tom was the also the founder and CEO of Adler Makay, a private company providing digital design, machining and fabrication services to commercial, marine and architectural millwork customers. Tom started his career in risk management and spent three decades as a turnaround, crisis management and acquisition advisor for private companies. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Brandon Swift is the FreeFall Engineer in charge of 5G Systems and Development. He creates and tests 5G and millimeter wave technology.
The past 7 years Brandon was developing and implementing novel sub-millimeter/Terahertz astronomical systems at University of Arizona. His research was on wide field surveys of cold interstellar gas in our Galaxy. His investigations included the SuperCam Survey and Large balloon reflector. One of Brandon’s most memorable achievements was installing the SuperCam instrument at extremely high elevation sites to survey large areas of the galaxy for cold molecular star forming gas.
He holds a Masters in Astronomy for the University of Arizona and a UC Berkeley Bachelor of Arts in Astrophysics & Physics.
Brandon is the Dad of beloved office dog, Otter.
Dan has twenty years of diverse engineering experience working in aerospace electronics R&D and manufacturing. He has worked in several startups companies where he has played a key role in developing and testing electronics.
His most memorable career achievement was being part of the engineering team, StratEx, that set the skydiving altitude world record where he was the avionics lead engineer.
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University
Gerard Durocher has over forty years of experience in electronics research and development supporting engineering research teams. His expertise includes electronic prototype assembly and packaging. He has worked in many industries including most recently the aerospace industry working on avionics, circuit board test fixtures and interface test equipment.
His most memorable career achievement was installing custom interior controls for the Sultan of Bruni’s Boing 727.
Doug M's Bio
Doug has over 35 years of experience with companies including Watkins Johnson, Hewlett Packard, AT&T Bell Labs / Lucent Technologies, Andrew Corporation, M/A-Com, Cobham Defense Systems, and Raytheon. He has extensive experience in product realization from initial concept through design for manufacture, typically in a project leadership role. He was a project engineer at Watkins Johnson designing and producing several of the antennas for the Space Shuttle Columbia. At Bell Labs he completed designs for microwave radio, fiber optic data links and repeater systems, and radios and power amplifier systems for wireless base stations. While much of his career has been in the commercial sector, he has also worked in developing RF and millimeter wave circuits cards and filters for missile data link transceivers and radar systems.
He holds a BSEE from Syracuse University and a MSEE from the University of Santa Clara.