CEO: Dr. Rick Fleeter
...Yet Dr. Rick Fleeter, a former senior scientist at NASA,s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, believed that making smaller satellites would not only make them more affordable but more valuable.
While government and commercial satellites were being built for no less than several hundred million dollars a piece, the amateur radio world (which Fleeter
enjoyed as a hobby) was building miniature versions for less than $10,000.
Small enough to be checked as luggage on a commercial flight, as Fleeter
recently did when taking three products out to Los Angeles for testing.
Additionally, the company also spends much of its time researching, developing and proposing new technologies. ,We,ve used this part of our business to get government R&D contracts to build more advanced types of radios and other sensors that we need for the navigation and attitude control of these satellites,, Fleeter
Despite the success, Fleeter
admits that the company,s sudden and extended growth has been painful.Over the last five years, AeroAstro
, which has only two direct competitors , has more than doubled its number of employees to 50, and it recently moved to a rented 24,000-square-foot facility that has two electronics laboratories and three ,clean, (or zero contamination) rooms.As a result, he
says, 2004 will likely be a breather year, with revenues remaining flat. ,We were founded with no money, we,ve never really had any money and we nearly ran ourselves out of cash growing to this size,, says Fleeter
, who would prefer a steady 20 percent long-term growth rate. ,So we,re finding that we need to take it easy for a while and regain our financial equilibrium.,
has plans for 2005.After 12 years of convincing people that small satellites actually work in space, he
,s now pushing to get them recognized for their mission possibilities, including communications, space transportation and remote sensing.For example, AeroAstro
is gearing up to sell a fairly high-performance but still tiny Earth-surface imaging satellite.In addition, the company plans to offer a do-it-yourself kit so customers can build the satellites themselves, ,without having to be rocket scientists,, Fleeter