Pacific Spaceflight shoots for the stars

Travis Chapman | July 27, 2017

Pacific Spaceflight is a Portland-based, volunteer team devoted to designing, building, and testing innovative technologies for the Second Space Age.

Co-founded by Cameron M. Smith, an archaeologist at Portland State University’s Department of Anthropology, Pacific Spaceflight has spent years working to lower the cost of access to outer space. The main focus of the team — which ranges between 6-19 active members — is building a functional, affordable, pressure suit from the ground up. Other pursuits include the settlement of Mars and explorations beyond our solar system.

As part of our Jama Software for Innovators program, Pacific Spaceflight is now using our platform to push their space efforts to new heights. We spoke with Smith a little bit about that. 

Jama Software: Can you give us a quick description of the program?

Cameron M. Smith: Many members of the Pacific Spaceflight group were past students of mine, and I was able to get them to come back. We look for people who enjoy being practical and working with physical objects more than theorizing.

JS: How would you describe your user environment?

CS: Most of our team works in our studio to complete the fabrication, and I do most of the design with paper notebooks. I’ll come up with designs and then show everyone. I do have one volunteer in Seattle that isn’t able to work with us now. So we’re hoping that Jama will enable him to join us, as well as other interested people internationally from Denmark and Japan. We’re also hoping Jama will make it easier for all our volunteers to review the work.

JS: How much pressure is there to deliver on schedule? 

CS: Huge! It’s totally self-imposed, but so much effort goes into making a suit happen, that it’s a real disappointment when it doesn’t work. We’re always bringing in money from private donors and crowd-funding, which adds pressure for us to be successful.

 JS: What challenges led to the decision to seek out a solution like Jama Software? 

 CS: Having something to coordinate all of us will help add some clarity and focus, which we don’t have. Collaboration is also something we are hoping to improve, and getting a better mental picture of our whole process. Right now, everything is so scrambled. And I cannot wait until I can visually show my team the projects we work on, as well as keep formal records of past projects.

Learn more about the Jama Software for Innovators program.