Thomas Santini, Class of ‘17, recently shared the exciting news that he has followed his natural entrepreneurial flair by Co-Founding a new venture: Lodestar Space Ltd. The company is developing an in-orbit 3D printer able to print large-scale infrastructure for the next generation of space stations and potentially the moon, in the nearer term, they aim to address current infrastructure challenges in today's satellite industry.
Thomas shared that his time at Robert Gordon’s College, inspired him to pursue a path of engineering entrepreneurship. One project, in particular, was central to his final years at RGC. Under the supervision of Mr David Clark, Teacher of Physics, Dr Jane Kennedy, Head of Chemistry and as a team alongside fellow students Rory Rose and Keith Yardley, both Class of ‘17, they designed and built their own SLA 3D printer. From there, they built DIY 3D printer kits that were sponsored into schools across the UK. All three students achieved colours in STEM and were placed 1st for Engineering in Scotland at the 2017&18 National Big Bang Science Fair. Opportunities like these not only taught him the technical ability to bring his ideas to fruition but to witness firsthand the positive impact engineering can have on the world.
Mr Tim Browett, former Teacher of Physics, had a significant influence on Thomas and encouraged him to pursue his passion for space exploration. Taking this advice, Thomas attended Scottish Space School and had the opportunity to meet and form a life-long mentorship with Dr Sue Lederer, a NASA Project Scientist for the Artemis programme. This network of people that Thomas established early in the space industry has become invaluable to him, benefiting him in his current venture.
It was engineering challenges like this that inspired Thomas to pursue a Masters in Integrated Design Engineering at the University of Bath. The degree incorporated a blend of mechanical and electrical engineering with an emphasis on creative problem-solving - a steep learning curve demanding practical engineering skills like CAD, software programming, and prototyping. For various extracurricular work at university, he was privileged to be a Founders of Future Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Engineering Leaders Scholarship from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
In his Master’s year, he combined his passions of space and 3D printing to develop novel robotics & composites for Lunar 3D printing. His novel material was in response to the European Space Agency's proposal for lunar infrastructure to be fabricated in situ with moondust. For his work in his final year, he was awarded the University of Bath, Arthur Clements CBE Scholarship.
Motivated by his experiences that reinforced his skillset, and his belief that he grows best when pushed outside his comfort zone, Thomas decided to dive head-first into entrepreneurship. Upon graduating, he applied and was selected from 1000+ applicants to join the Entrepreneur First (EF) startup Incubator programme; a London-based, highly selective 3-month programme that brings together exceptional people to find their ideal co-founders and build a startup from scratch. Over 500 companies, with a combined value of $10B+, have been founded through the model and are backed by the world's best tech investors such as Patrick & John Collison (Stripe), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), and Tom Blomfield (GoCardless & Monzo).
During the EF programme, Thomas met his co-founder Neil Buchanan. Together they founded Lodestar Space Ltd. where they are working on commercialising their academic research to develop a 3D printer able to print infrastructure directly in space for applications in orbit and on the moon, however in the nearer term, aim to address current infrastructure challenges in the satellite industry. They recently secured their first investment of $175k, with their technology capturing the attention of the public, private and defence industries, such as NASA, ESA & DARPA showing customer interest in what could be built both on earth and in space.
Thomas is actively looking to connect with members of the Gordonian community around the topics of 3D printing & tech entrepreneurship. If you wish to connect please feel free to reach out via LinkedIn or email.