Embry-Riddle students build future of spaceflight

A team of 20-somethings at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University may soon have a whole new way to get mankind moving through space.

The students in the school’s new Engineering Physics Propulsion Lab at the Daytona Beach campus have developed a small, customizable spacecraft that they hope to see launch very soon.

The craft is only about the size of a large pizza and would fly unmanned through virtual reality-based controls and autonomous means. It also contains various removable and replaceable parts so companies wishing to move experiments into space could pack it up however needed.

"A lot of different people are going to want to hire a platform that can carry their experiments and move their experiments from different locations,” said Francisco Pastranan, Embry-Riddle Senior and head of the project. “We call it the Swiss Army [knife] of spacecrafts.”

The team also explained that the craft can be configured to fuel itself off of the environment it’s traveling to; using water vapor, atmospheric gas, ice, or whatever is available.

The team of students has formed into a startup company called Beyond Ares Technologies so that they can continue development of the craft beyond school and hopefully put it into use.