A Skateboard Made from Rocket Material

July 28, 2015

4:00 pm

These days, many commercial rockets are made using some carbon fiber, an extremely strong, light, and durable plastic. The carbon fiber that doesn’t end up in space often comes to rest in landfills – which is not just unfortunate for the environment, but a waste of some pretty amazing material.

In light of this situation aerospace engineer Ryan Olliges came up with an idea to reduce aerospace waste and put it to good use: make skateboards out of it. His Aileron skateboard, built with upcycled carbon fiber, is now available on Kickstarter for $380. 

The board is light, strong, and, frankly, it’s pretty badass,” the Kickstarter page says.

To be precise, it weighs 5.5 pounds – less than a wood board. That makes it waterproof (where wood is not), and also bulletproof (if you happen to find yourself in some kind of tricky high-speed skateboard chase, I guess). According to their spokesperson, astronaut Michael López-Alegria, the board can literally last forever.

Another interesting thing about upcycled carbon fiber is that it’s illegal to export. That means that the Aileron must be made in the USA. So Olliges and his team finished off the skateboard with metal axles and wheels also made in the USA, making it doubly appealing to today’s conscious consumers: environment-friendly and local.

The Aileron is also non-electric – unlike many other successful boards on Kickstarter:

  • OneWheel: A one-wheeled electric skateboard that raised over $600,000 on Kickstarter.
  • Inboard: An electric skateboard with motorized wheels that raised over $400,000 on Kickstarter.
  • Boosted Boards: A light, electric skateboard that raised over $450,000 on Kickstarter.
  • STARY: A light, electric skateboard, currently raising money on Kickstarter.
  • Marbel: A 10-pound electric skateboard that raised over $350,000 on Kickstarter.
  • ZBoard: A weight-sensing electric skateboard that raised over $250,000 on Kickstarter.

Olliges wanted to use his expertise in carbon fiber, so non-electric was the obvious choice. It also means that he only needs to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter to get things going, which looks quite likely (it’s currently at three weeks and less than $2,000 to go).

Olliges is still a student at the University of Southern California, working in their Rocket Lab, and he teamed up with entrepreneurship professor Greg Autry to create the Aileron and the company behind it, 121c Boards. They will start shipping the first boards to Kickstarter backers in November.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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