TEDxISU: Behind the Scenes with Brian Rishikof

By Drew Lacy, Communication ‘14

I was able to catch up with Brian Rishikof after his speech at TEDxISU. Brian is the CEO of Odyssey Space Research, who conveyed that “there’s a lot of discovery and opportunity that still remains” in space.

It’s a comforting idea at a school like Florida Tech where so many students look to the stars for future careers.

In July of 2011, Brian and his team at Odyssey Space Research did something that sounds perhaps a bit simple at first: they sent an iPhone to space. Aboard the final space shuttle mission, the iPhone 4 – two, in fact – joined thousands of pounds of other scientific equipment blasting into orbit last year.

But this wasn’t just a matter of seeing if iPhones could survive in space. The gadgets were loaded with copies of SpaceLab, an app designed to take a variety of measurements aboard the International Space Station. There’s even a “ground version” available for download that offers a simulated experience for iPhone users here on Earth.

The experiment was the first of its kind, and for right now, the last as well. However, Brian and his team don’t intend to keep it that way.

“We did it to sort of blaze the trail, not to dominate it,” Brian told us in an interview at TEDxISU this past July. He also gave us an idea of some of the trends in the industry and how students like those at Florida Tech are finding their place in space.

As more students reach for advanced degrees to help them excel in the space industry, there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to see this kind of innovation in the future. Whether through the utilization of high tech apps or entirely new programs, technology is continuing to change and expand to meet the new challenges presented by space in an efficient and cost-effective way.

For young inventors and entrepreneurs, it’s now not always a matter of finding ways to raise millions of dollars for complex machinery. Instead, it’s all about finding new ways to innovate and create with what we have in our pockets and at our fingertips every day.

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