Opening General Session - Keynote Address

Monday, May 20  (10:30 am - 12:00 pm)

Minneapolis Convention Center

Keynote Speaker

Brian Dykas, PhD, PE
Experimental Tribology for Propulsion Systems at Blue Origin

Tribology in the New Space Economy
In 2022, the number of objects launched into space exceeded the total quantity launched between 2000-2016.  From today, the space economy is forecast to more than double by 2030, reaching up to $1T annually. For an industry that has historically been dominated by government funding, this renewed growth is increasingly driven by commercial investment and innovation.

A key feature of the newest generation of launch vehicles is reusability, enabling reductions in the cost of delivering payload to low earth orbit to under $1000/lb, a nearly order of magnitude reduction relative to previous generations of expendable launch vehicles. Reusability raises technical challenges in the design of propulsion, mechanical and structural systems, which must be designed for repeated exposure to launch and landing in seacoast and marine environments. This must be accompanied by order-of-magnitude longer lives than in expendable vehicles. At the same time, reductions in design cycle time and higher launch cadences allow for iterative approaches building on operational experience.

These trends offer renewed opportunities for tribology professionals to participate in the new space economy. Parallel hardware development and risk-based design approaches in the design of mechanical elements provide greater opportunity for hands-on learning and to reconsider previous design and technology constraints. Interdisciplinary and systems based engineering approaches, long underpinning the field of tribology, are in critical need. From mega-constellations of communications satellites, to lunar and low-earth-orbiting space stations, to crewed return to the lunar surface, this talk explores some of the opportunities for tribologists and suppliers in the growing space industry.

Speaker Bio
Brian currently leads experimental tribology for propulsion systems at Blue Origin. In this role, he works with design teams across all internal engine programs to identify technical risks and design solutions for tribological interfaces, mechanisms, seals and bearings. During his time at Blue Origin, he has served in various roles, including leading the materials and processes review for human flight certification of the BE-3PM engine design for the New Shepard rocket.

Prior to joining Blue Origin, he spent over ten years as an aerospace technologist and team leader at the US Army Research Laboratory with a focus on aviation propulsion and power transmission research. While at the USARL, he was responsible for portfolio management for the Army’s drivetrain and propulsion tribology research in collaboration with government, industry, academic, and international partners. He was selected for participation in the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program at the Australian Defense Science and Technology Group in Melbourne, where he established collaborative research on aerospace and maritime propulsion diagnostics.

Brian earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering, as well as MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.