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As of September 6th, 2005, I started work for Scaled Composites in Mojave, CA as a Mechanical/Design Engineer. I had waited 25 years for this opportunity to come along. The first few month at Scaled, I worked on a succession of small projects, intended to integrate me with the rest of the workforce, get me familiar with Scaled's methodology, and make sure that they didn't make a huge mistake in hiring me. I did layup schedules for composite layups, designed tow-hitches for a customer's aircraft that needed tow testing, created preliminary factory floor layouts for the Spaceship and Rocket Motor Factories, designed test fixtures for aerodynamic testing on the front of pickup trucks, performed stress analyses on broken parts and created posters and procedures for describing the proprietary nature of products.
Starting in January of 2006, I had responsibility for the Environmental Control Systems of the next version of the SpaceShip (SS2). This entailed the air supply for the cabin, including CO2 and H2O elimination as well as emergency procedures. It also involves responsibility for the air supply for the backup Reaction Control System, as well as the pneumatic Feather Actuators and Feather Locks. I had lots to learn.
Some of what I do I won't be able to talk about.
Starting in June, 2007, I had taken a position as the manufacturing engineer in charge of the transition of SpaceShip, Mothership, and Rocket Motors from the prototype stage at Scaled to production at "The Spaceship Company", which is the company that will eventually produce the production passenger carrying aircraft. I was responsible for factory floor layout, technical interface with the factory construction contractor, assembly planning, capital equipment acquisition, staffing planning, and scheduling. Due to the Rocket Motor accident on July 26th, 2007, work on the production facility slowed substantially late in the year.
In December, 2007, I took responsibility for the Systems Safety Analysis for the SpaceShip, Mothership, and Rocket Motors. This involved creating a Failure Hazard Analysis, including criticality levels, and then creating fault trees for each failure mode. This turned out to be fascinating due to the fact that I needed to become intimately familiar with both the architecture and the design implementation of each of the systems (hydraulic, pneumatic, electric, flight control, instrumentation, avionics, etc.) of each aircraft. I needed to learn a LOT in order to create an accurate model of the reliability/safety of each system in each aircraft. Scaled has never really done a systematic analysis of this type before, and it was very illuminating to see how the aircraft industry does these and why, and what reliability levels are required for passenger carrying aircraft. I like to think that I was instrumental in bringing this analysis technique into Scaled to use on a regular basis.
As of April 9th, 2008, I took over responsibility for the re-started Rocket Motor Development program for SS2. I was responsible for the internal engineering and manufacturing, as well as any external contractual arrangements with major sub-contractors. This was a large increase in responsibility, authority, and budgetary control. I looked forward to contributing to the success of the SS2 program by helping to develop a safe, workable and cost effective rocket motor solution.
After slightly more than three years as the RM2 project engineer, I assisted the startup of the StratoLaunch aircraft program prior to leaving Scaled Composites on February 10th, 2012.
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