FreeFall Aerospace is developing revolutionary new antenna technology for ground, air, and space. Their innovative spherical antennas are drawing interest from various commercial and government organizations, offering a wide field of view, electronic steering, and low mass to dramatically simplify and improve satellite communications. FreeFall was founded in Tucson as a spin-off from the University of Arizona and the team has expertise in space and antenna systems.
Startup of the Year Finalist 2022 – Copper Cactus Awards
Innovation Leader of the Year 2019 – FreeFall Aerospace
Innovator of the Year StartUp Company 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.
Dan is president of FreeFall Aerospace, an emerging leader in Communications Infrastructure for the NewSpace Economy. FreeFall technology has revolutionized the cost, functionality, and flexibility profiles of the cislunar and terrestrial communications landscapes.
Prior to FreeFall, Dan was President of Voyager Space Services, a subsidiary of Voyager Space. Before joining Voyager, Dan spent several decades in the international asset and wealth management industries. As a Founder and CEO, he has led several successful startups. He is known as a turnaround specialist for mature businesses and has run multi-billion-dollar P&Ls for global financial institutions.
He brings his extensive operating experience to FreeFall on behalf of its dynamic team of engineers and specialists. Dan has enjoyed interacting with hundreds of NewSpace companies while mentoring founders and execs to steepen their learning curve and help to ensure the survival of their businesses during their most critical early stages.
For the past 17 years, Dan has been Chairman of the Board of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest non-profit founded by the late astronomer Carl Sagan, JPL head Bruce Murray, and its current CEO Bill Nye. He is also a member of the Board of The Foundation for the Future, a non-profit focused on workforce development and policy for the space economy. Dan lives in the Houston, TX, area.
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.
For 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.
Aman Chandra is an Aerospace Engineer working at FreeFall on Inflatable and Deployable Antenna Systems for Satellite Communications. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. His doctoral specialization is on Gossamer Space Structure design for High-Frequency applications and Satellite Systems Engineering. Before this, he received an MS in Mechanical Engineering and worked at the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University. His master’s research was in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and focused on deployment and rigidization mechanisms for lightweight space antennas. He has three years of industry experience working for General Electric and the Indian Institute of Science. His research interests include computational thermo-structural design, origami techniques, machine learning, and multi-disciplinary design optimization.
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.
Terrance is the Electrical Engineer focusing on RF design/simulation at FreeFall Aerospace Inc. Terrance has five years of experience in microwave / RF engineering with a specific emphasis on antenna design and simulation. Prior to joining FreeFall, he was a graduate student at the Steward Observatory Radio Astronomy Laboratory (SORAL) contributing to various projects focusing on sub-millimeter and radio astronomy. He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical / Computer Engineering, an M.S. in Electrical / Computer Engineering, and a B.S. in Astronomy and Physics; all from the University of Arizona. He also holds an FCC general class license, which he occasionally utilizes for ham radio contests and events. His research interests are antenna design and simulation, computational electromagnetics, distributed computing, and software-defined radio.
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.
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 Boeing 727.
Board of Directors
Scott Webster was a Co-founder of Orbital Sciences Corporation and a Director since its inception. He was Chairman of the Board of MBDA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Europe’s largest missile system producer.
Mr. Webster also serves on the board of Orbital ATK, Inc., a global aerospace and defense prime contractor with revenues of approximately $5 billion. He serves on the board of QinetiQ North America, the U.S. subsidiary of the United Kingdom’s premier defense technology company.
As Chief Executive Officer of ORBCOMM, Orbital’s satellite data communications subsidiary, Mr. Webster managed procurement, launch, and operation of a constellation of 35 satellites, established global distribution, and supervised the rollout of worldwide commercial service. As President of Orbital’s rocket system division, Mr. Webster led a team that achieved more than 40 successful space launches while tripling revenue. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, he implemented strategies that enabled an industry outsider to penetrate NASA and DOD markets, landing Orbital’s vital first contracts.
Mr. Webster was a member of the team that developed Pegasus, the world’s first privately developed space launch vehicle that resulted in Orbital’s winning the National Medal of Technology, America’s highest science and technology honor. He is the recipient of Harvard’s Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor conferred by the Harvard Business School. The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship named him one of its “Rock Stars.”
Mr. Webster holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
UAVenture Capital was founded by Fletcher J. McCusker and Michael Deitch, the CEO, CFO team at SinfoníaRx, and the duo behind the startup to IPO of Tucson-based Providence Service Corporation (Nasdaq: PRSC). Fletcher, a 1974 UofA graduate, started Providence in 1997 with a $50,000 investment, grew the company to $55,000,000 in revenue, and went public in 2003. Providence then grew to a billion-dollar business and is, by far, the most successful public company ever launched in Tucson. Michael and Fletcher left Providence in 2013 to assist Tech Launch in its commercialization efforts by becoming the “business drivers” for UofA spinout SinfoníaRx. Invented by the College of Pharmacy faculty, SinfoníaRx pioneered medication therapy management, designed to assure that physician-written prescription are safe, don’t conflict with other medications, and are age-appropriate and necessary. The company allows its clients to comply with Medicare requirements and saves them money by preventing unnecessary or ineffective prescriptions. Patient health is improved by direct pharmacist interaction and medication review. As Chairman of the Rio Nuevo District (downtown Tucson’s revitalization board), Fletcher is credited with spearheading much of the development downtown since moving downtown in 2010.
Fletcher is a UofA alumnus of the year, holds an honorary Doctorate awarded in 2014, endowed the Public Programs Chair, scholarships a member of the tennis team, and sits on several UofA advisory boards.
Kenneth Dorushka is a retired executive from AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and Agere Systems technology companies. Ken has engineering degrees from the University of Illinois and Illinois Institute of Technology and an advanced business degree from Stanford University. Currently, he is on the board of directors of Paragon Space Development and World View Enterprises in Tucson. He consults in executive leadership, M&A, and Intellectual Property. In addition, he serves on several community boards, including the January 8 Memorial Foundation. Ken lives with his wife Carol in Tucson and has family in Oro Valley and Sedona.