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From military aircraft to Made in Space

Eric Joyce, 31, project manager, Made in Space

Growing up in Ohio, Eric Joyce watched Lockheed Martin C-130 transports fly over his house from a base in western Pennsylvania to a training range in eastern Ohio and wondered what they were doing, where they were going and how they remained airborne. In elementary school, Joyce saw the space shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral, which heightened his interest in all things that flew. After spending his early career as an engineer on military aircraft programs, Joyce joined Made in Space of Mountain View, California, in 2015. The company operates two 3-D printers on the International Space Station and is developing tools for additively manufacturing large structures, like telescopes or antennas, in microgravity.

How did you become an aerospace engineer?

As I worked through school, I studied advanced math and science, I found that was very satisfying to look at those kinds of problems. I also learned about everything that flew. That continued through college at Ohio State University. After I graduated, I went to work as an engineer for Booz Allen Hamilton, Dayton, Ohio, for six years. I was at the Air Force Research Lab, working on a variety of aircraft projects. I heard about what Made in Space was doing and said, “If we are ever going to get people into space, that is the company that is going to help do it.” An opportunity came up for me to take a role here, so I took it.

Imagine the world in 2050. What do you think will be happening in space?

That’s something we talk about all the time around here. At Made in Space, we have a variety of optimists and pessimists. There’s one school of thought that says we’ll basically be doing the same thing we are now. We’ll have a space station that is perhaps run by a commercial consortium, so maybe you have a few more people in space than we have on ISS right now and we will be doing things focused on commercial space. Then you have the other end of the spectrum where you have the pure optimists who think we’ll have people on the moon, people possibly living on Mars and headed toward the asteroids. I’m probably closer to that more optimistic category. I think we’ll have a continued human presence in space. We’ll have some commercial space stations. We’ll have people living in space, conducting experiments and pushing beyond low Earth orbit.

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From military aircraft to Made in Space