Brian Stofiel's plastic rockets are born on a 3-D printer and destined for space.
In theory, getting to space is simple — just go up, then keep going.
In reality, there are some additional steps: Collect a few billion dollars, build a rocket taller than a ten-story building, gain access to vast quantities of fuel and, preferably, buy a deserted plot of land that you wouldn't mind obliterating on launch day.
Or, you could do it like Brian Stofiel — just print a rocket in your basement and drag it to the edge of space on a weather balloon. Then, and only then, would you fire the rocket, which would have to be light enough to lift with a bit of helium but also sturdy enough to survive a prolonged burn through the upper atmosphere.
You probably wouldn't build that rocket out of plastic.
But Stofiel, a St. Louis-based Air Force veteran without a bachelor's degree, is doing just that, utilizing a heat-resident, chemically treated plastic that he himself invented. Stofiel's breakthrough has caught the attention of rocket scientists who know intimately what it takes to engineer an escape from Earth.
His creation, extruded inch by inch by an overworked 3D printer nicknamed "the Beast," is at the heart of what he calls the "Boreas" launch system.