the aphelion team
With roots in the dawn of nanolaunchers from the 1990s, our team fosters a strong heritage that allows us to adapt to both rigorous engineering practice and creative solutions.
Prior to founding Aphelion Orbitals, Sihao worked at the Aerospace Institute of Xiamen University researching advanced inertial guidance concepts and launch vehicle systems. He has experience in both the consumer and enterprise industry, previously working at AirEPay (Guangzhou) as an electronics engineer and subsequently as a negotiator. Sihao has been actively involved in the accelerator physics and nuclear engineering academic communities, with a range of research spanning from RF accelerating cavities, particle detectors, to high-speed analog frontends. He has also been building and testing liquid propellant rocket engines, nanosatellites, optical systems, and commercial radio communication equipment independently.
Matthew Travis studied Aeronautical and Astronautial Engineering and then Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Travis has worked in research, education and public outreach areas to stimulate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and promote the benefits of space exploration.
He serves as President and Executive Director of the Aerospace Research & Engineering Systems Institute, Inc. (ARES Institute), overseeing scientific research, engineering and STEM outreach activities as well as managing government contracting. ARES Institute's flagship project is LunarSail, a Cubesat class spacecraft that will test propulsion and navigation via solar sail on a lunar flyby mission in collaboration with Aphelion Orbitals.
Enzo began his career at Firefly Space Systems as the responsible engineer for the Stage 2 Thrust Vector Control system on the Alpha rocket. He holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Astronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona where he was awarded a scholarship from The Boeing Company.
David has years of experience in experimental rocketry, working in a multidisciplinary environment in areas ranging from ablative materials to advanced avionics systems. He specializes in flight dynamics modeling, and systems and structural engineering for both the Trailblazer and Feynman vehicles. Outside of the theoretical work he is also a skilled machinist, CNC operator, and mechanical engineer. He has worked on composite design for the Dartmouth College racecar team and played a crucial role in many high-altitude research projects, including the development of weather balloon platforms.
Connor Givans leads the propulsion department at Aphelion Orbitals, Inc. His diverse range of expertise includes high temperature materials, fluid dynamics modeling, and pressure-fed liquid propellant rocket engines design. With a strong background in applied physics, he has also designed advanced pulsed electronics and control systems for space environment testing. He is currently also responsible for overseeing the development of electrical systems for the company’s linear accelerator, housed in its secure facility in New Mexico.
Specializing in system analysis and software development, Kai Darrow serves as the Chief Information Officer at Aphelion Orbitals, Inc. With a strong background in information science, she has extensive experience in strengthening intersections with this field and others, notably computer science, business management, and linguistics, in a diverse array of applications.