There’s this guy, known as “RocketSciRick”, who is really a half-breed between aerospace technologist and computer scientist. In talking with other technical people outside of aerospace, he seems to understand aerospace really well. When talking with people in aerospace disciplines, he is sometimes among peers, but more often a learner.

So much for speaking of myself in the third person. Am I really a rocket scientist? Depends how you define it. I am not a chemist nor designer/builder of engines; that is, I am not specifically involved in creating rocket engines. I do study flight systems and trajectories, compute the impact that a rocket engine has on a vehicle, and often end up explaining a lot of this phenomena to other technical folks.

What about being a computer scientist? I got into computing because I wanted model the performance of rockets and aircraft. But in case this means anything to you, I am a UNIX/Linux developer. Although I started on IBM mainframes (and punched my own cards), I quickly moved to UNIX time-sharing systems, then later Sun workstations, and later web servers, and then mobile devices. I have a certain fascination with the energy cost of computation and certain SIMD architectures.

I worked on the calibration of analog channels feeding the engineering computer of the Venus Radar Mapper, ultimately known as Magellan. The calibration program ran on a Sun-2 workstation, which had a Multibus chassis, which connected to another chassis, which connected to some very large boards that generated analog signals to feed the analog channels of the computer.

These days, I deal with embedded Linux systems, turning them into cross-development targets; many of these systems were originally set-top boxes or network routers, but now they serve compiler writers and operating system developers. For years, in what spare time I could eek out, I’ve been involved inĀ  predominantly space-related efforts. In the latter half of 2014, I was part of a team focused on dedicated deployment of CubeSats to LEO by way of air launched rocket propulsion. Finally, to my relief, I’ve managed to carve out some overlap between embedded systems and flight hardware.