My name is Freddy Richard, and I’m VP of launch systems for Aphelion Aerospace.
I’m often asked the question, “what inspired you to choose your career path?”
When I was a kid, maybe five years old, the movie Apollo 13 came out. I remember being fascinated with the movie, even though I didn’t fully understand exactly what was going on – it’s kind of fun to watch it nowadays and replay what was going through my head at the time.
That inspiration carried through my childhood into adulthood and ultimately is what made me want to join the airforce.
I was fascinated with aerospace, all aerospace.
Experience in Airforce
I joined the airforce in 2009 and went through basic training. I received the basic training honor graduate ribbon, which is only awarded to about 10% of the airforce.
From there I went through my training, spent time at bases in Texas and Florida, and then was stationed in Las Vegas, where I worked on F-15 aircrafts that flew with the airforce at weapons academy.
I used to dissect mega aircrafts and then build them back out. It was an awesome mission.
When my active duty was nearing a close, I decided to join the air force reserves. I enlisted in the reserves and became a parachute rigger and life support systems specialist at a special operations unit in Florida.
During my time there I was able to be a part of some of the NASA crew recovery preparations and got to work onsite at SpaceX.
That really solidified the path that I wanted to choose once I crossed over to the civilian environment.
Experience at SpaceX
I was contacted by a SpaceX recruiter and was able to get an interview.
When I first started, I got a job working on the booster refurbishment program from the recovered boosters that had already flown.
When I joined, we had just landed our first booster and we needed to refurbish and refine it and show the concept actually worked.
We were able to do that, and we were able to keep flying boosters that were previously flown.
From there, I was able to join the ground operations team, working on the crew capsule and the cargo capsules that resupply the international space station.
While I was there, I got certified to be a propellant handler and I got to experience firsthand how to handle tetroxide and monomethyl hydrazine.
That was my first experience of actually seeing how toxic that was and how important it is to look for alternative fuels.
My experience dealing with hypergolic propellants made me realize that there is a need for a less toxic and environmentally friendly, hypergolic fuel.
Experience at Blue Origin
I had decided to transition to Blue Origin after SpaceX where I was lead integration engineer for the engine program.
We worked on the new Shepard B3 engine, the B4 engine, and the B7 lunar descent engine, along with in space propulsion systems, development, and manufacturing of those products as well.
Experience at Aphelion
I wanted to be part of something from the beginning.
This led to me seeking out Aphelion Aerospace after seeing the potential that we ultimately have and being able to build the program from the beginning.
I was hired as VP of launch systems, which puts me in charge of our testing operations, the development of our launch vehicle systems, the development of our engine, and overall managing day-to-day operations.
Right now we’re working on stepping into another round of testing over here in Colorado. Ultimately we want to achieve daily launches from anywhere on earth, with minimal crews, and providing a stellar option for nano satellite operators around the world.
I’m super excited to be a part of the team and build this from the ground floor.
The team we have has the capacity to make this company amazing.
We have a solid foundation, and an awesome idea.
It’s up to us to push this forward, and with your support can help us scale developments on our nanosatellite systems to democratize access to space!