Indianapolis Monthly

THE RIGHT STUFF

RICH BOLING works in outer space.

A child of the 1970s and 1980s, Boling belongs to the last generation of Americans who grew up watching in awe as NASA regularly sent our men and women—many of them Hoosiers—riding on rockets beyond Earth’s exosphere and into infinity. It was a time when astronauts were the reallife superheroes flying through the sky; when boys and girls still dreamed of one day floating in zero gravity among the stars.

Boling is living that dream, but it looks much different than imagined even a few short decades ago—somehow mundane and mind-blowing in equal measure.

First off, his space station is a commonplace two-story office building that squats along the main drag of Greenville, Indiana, a tiny town just north of Louisville. His spacesuit—khakis and a navy polo with a corporate logo on the breast—was built for a walk on the front nine, not one outside the International Space Station. In fact, the closest Boling has ever been to leaving the Earth’s atmosphere is the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner.

And yet for the past 19 years, Boling has worked on projects that are not only bound for the cosmos, but have shaped our understanding of how things work in outer space. He’s employed at Techshot Inc., which designs and builds payloads for transport to the ISS. The company is basically an interstellar UPS that adapts leading-edge technology to fit and operate in the harsh environs of a cramped spacecraft orbiting Earth in the vacuum of space.

As vice president in charge of corporate advancement and government relations, Boling helps coordinate with scientists and researchers to develop everything from special Tupperware that might change how plants are grown in space to a 3-D bioprinter that can manufacture human tissue—and one day possibly entire human organs—at zero-G in a contraption the size of a toaster oven. Then Boling and his colleagues work with the U.S.government and private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to blast those inventions into orbit, where they will be tested aboard the ISS. “We have equipment on almost every cargo load that goes up,” Boling says. “We have a small office and a lab at Kennedy Space Center [in Florida]. But we’re not based in Houston or Cape Canaveral or Huntsville, Alabama. We’re in Indiana. And

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