Matthew Travis studied at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, IL for Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering and Computer Science. At this time, he was also employed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. While there, he developed applications in C++ and Java. Create shared libraries in C/C++ that were callable from Java, in support of the Habanero object-sharing and collaboration project. Performed debugging and Q/A for the NCSA Mosaic web browser development team.
In 2003, he founded the Aerospace Research & Engineering Systems Institute near Kennedy Space Center, FL, to promote space exploration and STEM education with hands-on projects. Projects include the development of an experimental cubesat and research into new chemical propulsion technologies for space launch vehicles. He was deeply involved with the development of the organization’s projects. The projects included web-based mission simulation and real-time control, hardware-in-the-loop testing and educational media websites.
From 2003 to 2017, along with managing the non-profit organization, Mr. Travis worked on multiple space missions in various capacities with NASA, USAF and the commercial launch industry. His roles varied from engineering to media relations.
Mr. Travis co-founded Aphelion Orbitals in early 2017 and assumed the Chief Operating Officer role. He led a team of 10 employees developing a dedicated nanosatellite launch service and cubesat ecosystem. In close collaboration with the other founders, he helped secure Seed funding from Angel investors that enabled the company to grow rapidly. Aphelion Orbitals established a research & development facility in New Jersey, brought a line of cubesat systems to market, participated in the DARPA Launch Challenge and successfully demonstrated a flight-scale propulsion system.
Mr. Travis founded and transitioned to Phoenix Launch Systems in 2019 to continue development of the launch system and build out the company’s business relationships, supply chain and international network of partners. During this time, he negotiated MOU’s with potential customers, executed an agreement for future launches from the Kodiak, Alaska spaceport and agreements with other potential spaceports, test locations and manufacturing partners. Also during this period, Mr. Travis led the company’s participation in the 2019 NewSpace Business Plan Competition and, significantly, participation in the 2020 U.S. Air Force AFWERX EngageSpace program. At the same time, he led the effort to ensure the company would survive the COVID-19 global pandemic. As a result, Phoenix Launch System was well-positioned for rapid growth at the end of 2020.
In early 2021, the company reorganized and rebranded as Aphelion Aerospace, where Mr. Travis is currently Chief Operating Officer. He is working with the leadership team to establish new headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, build out R&D infrastructure, continue propulsion system and launch vehicle development. He is also actively involved with fundraising planning and execution and growth initiatives.