A day in the life of a Principal Space Architect 🚀Featured

cadran's profile thumbnail
Hi Isa! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. A few questions for you because I'm intrigued by your job :DSince the rocket engines and their full support systems are different for each customer, how do you come up with your test plans and where do you do your testing for the bigger propulsion systems? How much prep time goes into preparing for testing?
IsaCFritz's profile thumbnail
Thanks for asking! You're correct - each customer will have a tailored end solution for their mission, but we're striving to standardize certain criteria (like testing procedures) for each product line. The test plans are built to ensure workmanship, thrust and Isp performance of the engine, as well as any upgrades to the avionics and hardware for the mission's lifetime. The larger propulsion systems definitely require a unique testing setup due to the physical size and TNT equivalence of the pressurized systems. Right now, we're testing the 450N engine at the Livermore Airport and eventually hope to have an office space to accommodate the testing indoors. As you can imagine, the tarmac gets really hot when it's 92F outside!Before the stand was built, we spent a solid amount of time creating and running through the procedures for testing. During test days, I usually spend a few hours before the engine test verifying the test stand with a colleague. My colleague and I verify the stand's state, load the oxidizer and fuel, and slowly pressurize the system. Once everything is ready and safe, then we conduct the rocket engine test fires and/or performance demonstrations. The test preparations (and then test firing) take a full day - about 10hrs!
amazzocchi's profile thumbnail
Hi Isa!I'm curious about the types of customers you are targeting, are they large more industry oriented or smaller companies and groups (re:cubesats)? I'm also curious about what regulations are set up surrounding these types of propulsion systems (regulations for sending to space, regulations for being within a launch vehicle)? Additionally, what kind of liability does Tesseract Space take on once the devices are launched?Finally, related to your position, as your title is very technical but also being at a start up, what kind of opportunities do you have that you would not have at a large or more traditional aerospace company?
IsaCFritz's profile thumbnail
We're hoping to target a swath of customers with our three product lines. We're developing integrated propulsion modules for the CubeSat ( less than 1N thrust class) and SmallSat (ESPA / LaunchU, 1- 22N class) form factors as well as a launch vehicle (LV) upper stage or exploration stage (450N class engine). The 450N stage is ideal for missions that need to operate in an orbit outside of LV capabilities or for deep space missions. Liability and reliability for space applications is an interesting topic and measured by "Probability of Success". At Tesseract we design our systems to meet the customer Probability of Success for their mission, which can vary from operating perfectly 15yrs on orbit to operating for less than 1yr. It feeds into hardware choice (and total cost), but we accommodate different missions and their success criteria in our builds.You're 100% on - I came in with a solidly technical background, and while I still flex those muscles regularly I am seeing that there are so many opportunities for me to grow here. Other than the hands-on machine shop experience, I'm growing my business acumen. This has been very eye opening to me, especially in a startup light. I had NO idea how this world works, and every day I am learning something new about business and strategy. I love strategic thinking and it feels very empowering to help steer our corporate direction and development. The learning opportunities at Tesseract are crazy awesome and it would have taken a literal lifetime of work to get anywhere near the exposure that I have now.
amazzocchi's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for the response - also looks like there was suppose to be something after the "(" in the first paragraph, just checking to see if something was missing.
cadran's profile thumbnail
Little display but that we've fixed. Sorry for that!
whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
Hi Isa-Thanks for taking time to share your experience on Elpha! I'm absolutely FASCINATED by what you are doing! Other than fundraising and investment what other boxes are you looking to "tick" moving forward in your career with Tesseract. It seems like you are covering a lot of ground professionally, already so very curious to understand what you hope to accomplish on the horizon?Thanks for your time!
IsaCFritz's profile thumbnail
Thanks Whitney! I'm hoping to refine different flavors of project management (old industry methodology only works so well at startups) as well as more machine shop skills. I'm *so very excited* to learn how to TIG weld!
kuan's profile thumbnail
What you're doing is so cool, Isa! Thank you for sharing your story with us!
leaoriol's profile thumbnail
This is so cool! Thank you so much for sharing your insights!
roopaiyer's profile thumbnail
Thanks for sharing your insights and inspiring us , Isa. Good luck !
jessicagrayson's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for sharing - I'm curious if you have ever thought of starting something yourself since you are so accomplished?
IsaCFritz's profile thumbnail
Aw you made me blush! :) You know, it's definitely something I've always wanted to do - to be a founding member of a company. I'm not sure if it's imposter syndrome or what, but I've never had an idea that I felt would be strong enough to start a company with. I used to run a hobby side-hustle making geeky jewelry, and painfully learned profit margins, customer targeting and the likes. I'm seeing company growth now as an early employee which is a next step in learning. Maybe one of these days I'll have an "ah-hah!" moment and pull the trigger... and I'm happy now to still be learning how to do it right.
jessicagrayson's profile thumbnail
Oh super cool - I've done the jewelry thing too! It's a lot of fun!
gabimatic's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for sharing Isa! Very very exciting stuff