FreeFall is developing revolutionary new antenna technology for ground, air, and space. Their innovative spherical antennas are drawing interest from a wide variety of commercial and government organizations, offering wide field of view, electronic steering, and low mass to dramatically simplify and improve satellite communications.
The company’s unique antennas for the coming 5G wireless world are unlike anything else on the market and enable high-frequency, steerable communications for Smart Cities, connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things. FreeFall was founded in Tucson as a spin-off from the University of Arizona and maintains a close connection with UA faculty and supporters.
Doug Stetson is President and CEO of FreeFall Aerospace, a small business dedicated to advancing and developing innovative antenna technology for satellite communications and 5G internet applications. Prior to founding FreeFall in 2016, Doug spent nearly 30 years at the NASA Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in a variety of technical and management positions including several assignments at NASA Headquarters. At JPL, he had lead roles in systems engineering and mission design for a number of high-profile missions to Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and was responsible for
the development of new planetary mission concepts and programs. Doug led the development of a number of mission and technology “roadmaps” for the national science community and NASA, and established new initiatives for mission and system innovation and cost assessment. During his three tours at NASA Headquarters, Doug served as the deputy manager of the NASA Advanced Planning and Integration Office, coordinated development of the Agency’s 2003 Strategic Plan, and served as acting chief of Planetary Advanced Studies in the early 1990’s. After leaving JPL in 2008, Doug established the Space Science and Exploration Consulting Group and was project manager for the LightSail mission, a privately-funded Cubesat that successfully deployed and tested a solar sail in Earth orbit. Doug holds a B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
He is the recipient of a number of local and national awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the JPL Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Professor Christopher Walker has over 30 years of experience designing, building, and using state-of-the-art antenna and receiver systems for terahertz astronomy. Prof. Walker has published numerous papers on star formation and protostellar evolution. He has served as dissertation director for ten Ph.D. students and is a Topical Editor for IEEE Transactions on TeraHertz Science and Technology. Prof. Walker has worked in industry (TRW Aerospace and JPL) as well as academia. As a Millikan Fellow in Physics at Caltech, he worked on the development of low-noise, SIS waveguide receivers above 400 GHz and explored techniques for etching waveguide out of silicon.
On joining the UofA faculty in 1991, he began the Steward Observatory Radio Astronomy Lab (SORAL), which has become a world leader in developing THz receiver systems for astronomy and other remote sensing applications. Instruments developed by Prof. Walker’s team have served as primary facility instruments at the Heinrich Hertz Telescope on Mt. Graham, AZ and the AST/RO telescope at the South Pole. Prof. Walker led the effort to design and build the world’s largest (64 pixels) submillimeter-wave heterodyne array receiver.
He is PI of the NASA funded long duration balloon project “The Stratospheric THz Observatory (STO)’’, which had a successful Antarctic flight earlier this year. The follow-on project to STO, called GUSTO, was recently selected by NASA as the first balloon-borne mission under the auspices of the Explorer Program. He is also PI of the “10 meter Suborbital Large Balloon Reflector (LBR)” project, selected by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for a Phase I and II study. He recently authored Terahertz Astronomy, the first textbook in his field of study.
Prior to joining FreeFall as CFO, Tom Brown served as CEO and CFO in private manufacturing companies and led several public education reform efforts in California. Tom was a co-founder of Beacon Education Network, later Ceiba Public Schools, in 2005 and served as its CEO until 2017, guiding the charter school organization in its mission to prepare low-income students in non-urban communities (predominantly first generation students) to graduate from four-year colleges and universities. Under Tom’s leadership, Ceiba became one of the top-performing public schools in the Monterey Bay (California) area. In 2012 Tom started the Ceiba Public Schools Foundation to provide scholarships and leadership development opportunities for students and staff from Ceiba Public Schools. Before Ceiba, Tom was Board President at Pacific Collegiate School, the top open admission public high school in California, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Tom was the also the founder and CEO of Adler Makay, a private company providing digital design, machining and fabrication services to commercial, marine and architectural millwork customers. Tom started his career in risk management and spent three decades as a turnaround, crisis management and acquisition advisor for private companies. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Stefan O’Dougherty is an Optical and RF Engineer specializing in design and testing of spherical antennas and electronically steerable line feeds. He is responsible for the building, testing and system verification of the All Sky Antenna system and CubeSat applications.
With over 5 years of Terahertz and RF experience and 3 years as an optical engineer for the Osiris-Rex space mission, Stefan brings a diverse background to tackle customized antenna solutions.
Stefan’s most memorable achievement was watching the camera system that he worked on for Osiris-Rex mission launch on a rocket off towards an asteroid.
At the University of Arizona he researched spherical optical solutions. His missions include Osiris-Rex, GUSTO, Large balloon-reflector, THRUMMs, and CHaMP.
Stefan received his PhD in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, and a BS in Astronomy from the University of Florida.
He’s the Dad of FreeFall’s adorable office dog, Yoshi.
Juan has thirty years of experience in applied physics and materials science, working in R&D, academics and manufacturing. His expertise includes chemical sensors, electrochemistry, optics, ultrasound and microwave spectroscopy. He developed solid state electrochemical sensors.
The past 16 years he has been providing Engineering and R&D cost effective solutions to small and mid-size companies.
Juan has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires and is fluent in Spanish, English and French.
Brandon Swift is the FreeFall Engineer in charge of 5G Systems and Development. He creates and tests 5G and millimeter wave technology.
The past 7 years Brandon was developing and implementing novel sub-millimeter/Terahertz astronomical systems at University of Arizona. His research was on wide field surveys of cold interstellar gas in our Galaxy. His investigations included the SuperCam Survey and Large balloon reflector. One of Brandon’s most memorable achievements was installing the SuperCam instrument at extremely high elevation sites to survey large areas of the galaxy for cold molecular star forming gas.
He holds a Masters in Astronomy for the University of Arizona and a UC Berkeley Bachelor of Arts in Astrophysics & Physics.
Brandon is the Dad of beloved office dog, Otter.
Dan has twenty years of diverse engineering experience working in aerospace electronics R&D and manufacturing. He has worked in several startups companies where he has played a key role in developing and testing electronics.
His most memorable career achievement was being part of the engineering team, StratEx, that set the skydiving altitude world record where he was the avionics lead engineer.
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University
Gerard Durocher has over forty years of experience in electronics research and development supporting engineering research teams. His expertise includes electronic prototype assembly and packaging. He has worked in many industries including most recently the aerospace industry working on avionics, circuit board test fixtures and interface test equipment.
His most memorable career achievement was installing custom interior controls for the Sultan of Bruni’s Boing 727.