WE MIGHT ALL BE ABLE TO GET THERE FROM HERE…
My previous two blogs point out how big ventures may be slow on innovation and small ventures are slow to achieve funding. I suggested a contest like the X-Prize to stimulate multiple proposals to improve launch technology. I pointed to the possibilities of our own in line staging proposals. However the X-Prize forgot low earth orbit and went straight to the moon. So how do any innovative ventures get to orbit now?
Perhaps the same pressures that first sent us to the Moon are coming back on-line now. China and Russia are making us aware of military challenges that we thought were fading into the past. There are signs that America is recognizing shortcomings in our innovation process. Big aerospace companies have been growing into big monopolies that are slow to innovate. Small ventures fail to inspire confident funding and fade away. A few wealthy men still push innovation but they may not have all the answers.
In the depression years men like Howard Hughes pushed innovation so we had some understanding when the crisis of war became real again. Smaller companies were ready to spring into action with new systems when needed. We may also be facing problems related to our political obsession with lobby money. There is a chance that the Air Force may be able to change the game for space launch innovation.
Defense News published an article: “Air Force Launches Space Consortium” which describes a blend of big and small ventures. Initially they are soliciting potential consortium managers who have the skills to lead such ventures. Later there will be requests for proposals, and organization for contracts. While this is all preliminary organization, the inclusion of education, small, and large ventures is a positive sign. We really have no more old missiles for space launch, and new vehicles cannot be both expendable and affordable. It is time for change. the Air Force published a request for information (RFI) about their Space Enterprise Consortium. Now they have launched a Defense Accelerator.
This looks like light at the end of the tunnel perhaps. Government purchases are usually published on FedBizOpps.Gov where one may age quickly seeking innovation. How can they list ideas that they have not become aware of? This consortium may actually lend an ear to new ideas. I remember NASA responses sounded to me like “We at NASA already know all there is to know about aerodynamics”. Well, not exactly those words, but pretty close in intent. If it takes a mad Russian to revive common sense, I hope he keeps kicking shins. Just be ready when he swings a right hook.
GO FOR LAUNCH?
So, what can an unemployable draftsman do? We assume that blueprints are the map that tells the shop what the engineers want. That is partly true, but the engineers want a paycheck. So before there is a blueprint, there is a feasibility study, a fake blueprint. We don’t have all the math done yet, but based on past experience we assemble the best parts in a way the investors can learn to love. Today designers are part of marketing. We draw graphic illustrations that the investor’s engineers may not reject offhand. We deliver estimated math and cost so marketing can get the buyers into the finance office. Every new car buyer knows what happens next…but they love driving it home!
My latest new car is no longer in production, but it is a cult favorite with a huge resale value. It is also a reliable rugged off-road workhorse; a winner. Now that could make the investors happy if they get more than they expected. Satellite and manned operations need low-cost and friendly insurance carriers. Mistakes that cost money and lives are not to be the future of space launch. So get ready to invest in reusable vehicle development costs that will pay back a long safe history of reliable launch operations. As an artist I present the best ideas that I have seen engineers use in the past. New ideas should be evaluated too if we want to own an advantage over other companies in the market. If the Air Force gets this then we are coming out of the tunnel. If not, that light may be an oncoming train wreck.
EXODUS AEROSPACE PROPOSALS COMING
OK, we are developing a feasibility study for orbital services with many innovative solutions. We spent time on a prototype that is suborbital, but it reveals some of the ideas that have since been growing. So today I want to publish some of our Ideas that can validate steps towards the orbital mission. Our “Staging Key Initial Prototype” (SKIP) is prototype 5. It may illustrate some features, but we expect more value for any serious investment.
AERODYNAMIC IN-LINE STAGING
Typical horizontal launch has used “piggy back” staging. This can have issues with aerodynamics that my cause collisions when done in the atmosphere. It certainly causes increased frontal area and turbulent drag. This hinders efficiency when attempting to use a longer ascent with air-breathing engines. Hiding the upper stage in the booster misses the opportunity for both sets of wings to contribute to lift. Placing the orbiter in front increases lift without the drag penalty.
AERODYNAMIC STAGE COLLABORATION
When two blended wing bodies are blended as one wing they offer more lift and less drag. Getting a heavy load of fuel off the ground needs this efficiency. The mass of an orbiter is shaped to be a contribution to the combined vehicles instead of being only parasite mass.
EMERGENCY ATMOSPHERIC STAGE SEPARATION
Ideally staging for an orbiter can be in space, outside the influence of atmospheric turbulence. But we can demonstrate the potential to stage in the atmosphere in an emergency. The shuttle had problems with boosters that damaged the orbiter because of their proximity and lack of escape systems. Traditional rockets allowed the capsule to escape by accelerating forward. So we stage in front of the booster to allow stage separation and escape. The booster may be lost if it is out of balance, but payloads and passengers have a way home. Our suborbital prototype will always stage in the atmosphere. Orbital variants will benefit from this demonstration as well. More redundant safety plans prevent costly shut down time and high insurance costs.
The X-37 has been doing this for years. We have the technology. If crew members can do a landing that’s fine. But if they are ever disabled we can still bring them back alive as AAA used to say. Horizontal takeoff and landing is a gentle way to deliver payloads as well. Perhaps suborbital delivery is overrated but once it happens that may change.
VIRTUAL SPACE TOURISM
I make no great claims, but a theater may deliver live images from even the early test flights. Hollywood might have a use for such footage in their industry too. We should at least have a documentary about the emerging space future in this.
It may be time to flight test some new materials. Carbon foam, ceramic composites, and new thermal protection all welcome new vendors and suppliers to deliver better solutions.
Here in Wyoming we have available 100% HTP fuels and flight tested engines. For this prototype the Frontier Astronautics monopropellant Asp engine is illustrated. We may see innovation in air-breathing propulsion in the near future too. There are two small PBS turbines installed with inboard stations for ram jet testing. Inlet doors close during reentry on the engine installations.
FUEL TANK STRUCTURAL CONTRIBUTION
Peroxide fuel needs no elaborate thermal insulation or heavy tanks. With fuel pumps we can even use fuel bladders with low pressurization. Even 30-40 psi make your car tires pretty firm. Add that to the basic structural strength as a safety margin. This was proposed for the Rockwell StarRaker but that required cryogenic tanks with greater mass.
Small prototypes don’t need huge buildings or workforces. Small vendor shops have other business already so a new space company doesn’t have to keep a large workforce. Everyone likes to get a few more jobs to keep the paychecks flowing though. With experienced consortium managers we can keep the schedule moving and solve problems when they come up. At times the big aerospace firms are the best place to source the tough fabrication jobs.
FACILITIES FOR SMALL VEHICLES ARE AVAILABLE
Spaceport New Mexico can work with the white Sands range. They offer a sophisticated tracking camera system to launch services. Space Florida may offer the shuttle landing strip for testing. We also know of an abandoned air strip on an uninhabited island that may offer a safe landing facility. These require no one dedicated facility as vertical launch does. How easy to shelter operations in a wartime if small launchers can use any runway. A sniper rifle could demolish a vertical launch vehicle with one shot. These can be moved, bunker sheltered, and launched quickly. Even an aircraft carrier is an option here!
BETTER DESIGNS FOR ORBITAL OPERATIONS MAY PUT THE BIG SPACE COMPANIES TO WORK
Using the best professional consortium managers will advance good ideas and eliminate waste. Good lessons learned make opportunities for corporations to tool up production for real value. Investors can watch the best innovation being guided by the best experience. The illustrations shown here are only a suggestion of what is coming off the drawing board now. They are some new ideas and many old ideas in different combinations. But these are already history. Stay tuned for more news on the future…we’re just getting off the ground!
I am a semi-retired designer with some notions about improved methods of space launch. We may need to provide a better path for younger idea men to build our future though.
I published a blog and shared on LinkedIn about limitations of current paths to LEO; “You Can’t Get There From Here”. I may have oversimplified, but we may be able to do more.
Actually, we do get there, but with high costs and low flight rates. I have been contributing drafting services to many space ventures and these provoked some patents for horizontal launch solutions. Over time smarter people have contributed to improvements and we may see a viable answer taking shape.
I am concerned about the landscape littered with broken new space companies. There is evidence that the business boosters (funding sources) may be as volatile as vehicle boosters. In some cases, investors and management are capable of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Others are destructive in other ways that hinder innovation.
Government (SBIRs) only shops for ideas that they know about, and may miss unique solutions that are unknown to them. Some private investors may not understand how to survive in this tough market. Competition may be unfair if a less effective concept has government or billionaire funding. In some cases, big aerospace companies may devour small ventures and run away with IP while killing the creative work. Sadly a partner may cause damage by stealing IP, harming everyone. Many threats make it hard to get innovation moving.
Before aerospace companies began merging we had more parties capable of competing for design contracts. In our current political environment, a lobby may be more important than engineering or bidding. We witness more cost overruns and uncertain technical value. Do we have an environment that can still produce good technologies for future needs?
Having a small venture with big ideas we see a huge challenge to present new ideas for serious funding. We are cautioned by the demise of so many small ventures, but motivated by apparent needs. I am nearly 70 years old so this is a venture for those who will live to see it through. I am learning a lot from other partners about possible solutions though.
I proposed a typical path of small prototypes that would struggle to find funding but be feasible for small build groups. The SBIR path never hits the right needs at the right time, and private funding seeks fast results. Aerospace is not a low-cost fast return venture like software though. There is interest but it requires an experienced team and heavy investment. That at least might present as being scalable to bigger markets.
A good solution should target the needs of customers in the real markets. So we are looking ahead to a future vehicle that would be built around customer needs. I have a meeting with a satellite customer this month to learn more about satellite customer needs. Our “paper airplane” study already has our patented in-line staging and seven pages of new technology topics. The potential is to deliver smooth safe reusable launchers with redundant recovery options to reduce insurance costs. The Greater value may apply with later manned applications. I know better than to present this to investors now, but someday space access may need new ideas. Some features may be invalid, while others may merit new patents. This looks for a path to validate a wide range of ideas and that takes more money than most national budgets can give.
Surprisingly private ventures are delivering new rockets with millions instead of billions today. It’s too bad that business incubators rarely know how to connect aerospace innovation with that class of investment. Additionally, they are often fighting for only one state instead of united states. No one state has enough resources to gather every asset for a vehicle program. Big space might have a lock on big ideas for now, but there may be a way for the future.
There is interest in space growing all over America, but incubators can only launch small ventures that cannot do a whole vehicle program. But the interest even manifests in business, medicine, engineering, and other fields that are all needed. As a draftsman, I cannot deliver nearly enough to make one giant venture like SpaceX or Virgin Galactic. But a draftsman is in a unique position.
We do deliver drawings to the shop when there is a company with paychecks. But early on we also deliver the feasibility study, an illustration of the future. That has drawn a number of people who do have some credentials, but little free time. Their help is presenting a preliminary design. There are other good ideas in America, but little hope of delivering a big change in aerospace markets. Still, if the concepts were presented to others who have skills and interest, subgroups may contribute elements that illustrate and validate potential solutions. That can be done at small local incubators.
A design challenge might identify several competing vehicle concepts. Perhaps we cannot launch a mega corporation with local incubators, but we may launch technical and business elements that can add up to one. A paper airplane may deliver real investment. Could this be a valuable target for an “X Prize” type competition? Local state incubators could mentor the business, marketing, technical, legal, and maker spaces to better flesh out subtopics at a manageable level. Individual states could gather those new industries while getting the advantages from other states ventures at the same time. I like United States, and we should work together.
This might discover new ideas that leave our own proposal in the dust, but that is not all bad. We need better answers going ahead. But without all those assets let’s look at our own modest proposal. The future should be even better!
Suppose a lifting body orbiter had a horizontal launch booster that would deliver it to space without the massive payload fairing of the Atlas or Arianne boosters. What if it could rescue payloads or crews and deliver smooth missions and return inoperative satellites?
If a booster has advanced air breathing and aerospike technologies, it could be near SSTO in performance. A mid-stage fairing connection blends a lifting body orbiter to operate as one vehicle at launch. The potential to launch and service satellites could begin with a small prototype. Every payload can be tested before release and returned if inoperative. Returning minerals from space mining would be safer with winged orbiters. And we have heard that wings are a comfort to returning astronauts. The ability to escape booster malfunctions and land the orbiter payload safely is also an asset.
This is one notion with many details that need engineers and paychecks to analyze and revise. But there should be a lot more in the future if the road is paved instead of blocked. Biplanes were great but we have learned a little since the beginning. Wings to space, the Wright stuff.
If there are dozens of potential technical solutions, we need as many political and business solutions. We need to pave the way for future innovation; we have the technology. I am working with Wyoming business initiatives now, and have proposed student design projects at the University of Colorado in the past. Wyoming and Colorado have shared assets already so I am traveling in this area for meetings this month. I hope to see this “space corner” as a starting point to lubricate innovation. I am writing this in a fevered late night brainstorm that may need a better guidance system. I am not an engineer, but I may be an Imagineer. I don’t have all the answers, but I might have some of the questions. Are we ready to boldly go?
No you can NOT get to space like this.
It’s almost the fourth of July and rockets will fill the sky. But you can’t get there from here. We have been inspired by fireworks and rockets but they cannot reach the stars by brute force. Certainly writers of fiction have favored the vertical launch rocket…or even a giant cannon in the past. German scientists had funding to make it work…up to a point. Even today we are attempting to do the “Flash Gordon” vertical landing, and it will work…up to a point.
When engineers analyze reliability of systems they involve math for statistics. Statistically the more machinery, systems, and operations are involved the higher the potential for a tiny failure which may cascade into a big failure. The Spacex landing has repeated the failure of the DC-X which was precipitated by a tiny landing gear problem. In fact they have found several ways to bend and burn boosters. In the long term they will get better, but never perfect, and probably not a lot better. It is like taking odds on a sports event. How would Las Vegas rate this system for long term economy?
So far only the first stages have been recovered and we have yet to see a second stage recovery or a capsule recovery and actual reuse. No capsule has ever been reusable after returning from orbit to date. But other orbital vehicles have returned from orbit to fly again another day…with wings. The space shuttle was expensive but it was reusable. Don’t consider that investment lost though, because the lessons live on today.
The Boeing X-37 is a fully reusable miniature orbital space shuttle. The Air Force has been flying it to orbit and back for years now. In fact one remained on orbit for two full years before coming home. We have two of these in operation today. While Spacex has been landing and crashing first stages the X-37 has a zero failure history…no crashes. And another X-plane is about to join the X-37 by delivering cargo to the International Space Station. The Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser is a design based on Russian and NASA experiments. It too will be a reusable orbital vehicle.
It begins to look like wings to space is the “Wright stuff” for orbital reentry. In the future asteroid mining may want to return minerals to earth. Would you rather have a load of rocks coming home on a parachute or on a winged vehicle? That sounds like a solid case for winged orbiters. But they still have one small problem; getting to space. They depend on expendable (throw away) vertical launch rockets. We have discovered an unpleasant reality about this system. Winged orbiters generate aerodynamic lift, which may cause a bending moment on the joint between the vehicles. Some kind of aerodynamic issues have forced both vehicle to ride in an aerodynamic shroud. That cover is extra weight that robs the mission of useful payload. It also forced the Dream Chaser to add folding wings to fit the shroud.
Even if you recover the boosters, this system is fighting against nature several times over. Imagine launching a Boeing 747 by vertical takeoff. It would need a rocket engine because the jets can’t do that. It would have to carry fuel and oxygen tanks that take away from the payload again. If the airplane uses its jets and normal takeoff the engines breathe atmospheric air and they are far more fuel efficient. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus has been carried aloft by an airplane for many years now. A larger version may launch a downsized Dream Chaser one day.. They have several advantages but they are still limited by the lack of oxygen for jets at high altitude. They also offer little speed to a 15,000 mph mission need.
X-37 IN ITS LAUNCH SHROUD…HEAVY!
DREAM CHASER IN ITS SHROUD ON ATLAS AND ARIANNE LAUNCHERS…HEAVY!
MINI-CHASER, STRATOLAUNCHER, AND THE WINGED ORBITAL SCIENCES MID STAGES
This illustrates some great steps in the right direction. Orbital Sciences and Scaled Composites have done a lot of work together since the Pegasus. They will still have to consider the structural forces of the Dream Chaser wings in their aerodynamic studies. But this is creating lift that helps the craft to climb and does not make a vector force that may change the trajectory. There is still a lot of frontal area but speeds are low enough that a little extra jet fuel won’t hurt the mission. First stage performance is low so extra throw away rocket stages are needed. It is also much smaller than the original Dream Chaser design though. How does the first stage climb to 5 miles at 500 mph contribute to a mission that needs 15,000 mph to reach orbit? With more expendable stages.
Suppose that we plan a purpose built clean sheet solution. We want a high performance first stage that can breathe air and go really fast with an upper stage that can go to orbit. We need the best aerodynamics and propulsion available. The defense department has been straining to build such launch systems. One proposal offers a hypersonic airplane with a typical cylindrical rocket on its back. Now hypersonic demands exotic jets engines and razor sharp aerodynamics. I wonder how this big tank rocket will be pushed to extreme speeds and temperatures in this shape? Seriously guys, hypersonic??
Then we have to remember a piggy back high speed drone from history. The SR-71 launched D-21 drones until one had aerodynamic or control issues and hit the carrier aircraft. Vertical launch rockets are staged in-line so the Orbital Sciences vehicle may enjoy a safety factor during staging. Well the Shuttle was a piggy back design but you remember how THAT worked! Two shuttles were destroyed by being too close to the booster malfunctions. Capsules staged in-line were enabled to escape to the front and that saved a Russian crew once. We must also remember that vertical launch may end in range destruction while a jet may get out to sea before initiating rocket ignition. With wings, stage separation may rescue your customer payload. What do your insurance carriers and facility owners think about that?
Now a clean sheet design needs to be focused on aerodynamic harmony and reachable propulsion solutions. Putting stages in line can consider two craft as one if the wings work in harmony. Two wings that work as one avoid conflicting forces in flight. To that end advanced aerodynamics are looking hard at blended wing bodies. They offer internal volume, structural advantages, low drag, and natural heat shield forms. If they were attractive in atmospheric operations they are more so to launch services.
The ideal form for takeoff would emulate the vortex of the Concorde, which needs no flaps to launch a heavy aircraft with a full fuel load. The combined stages will have this form initially, then divide as two craft optimized for different flight conditions. The first stage returns as a delta wing with low mass after most fuel is burned off. The orbital stage is typical for reentry bodies with low aspect ratio and a rounded under body. It will use the same fuel as the X-37 because Hydrogen peroxide can stay on orbit without cryogenic cooling. Both stages use jet fuel which is also used by air breathing engines.
DELTA WING VORTEX LIFT AT HIGH ANGLE OF ATTACK
The vehicle illustrated next is a small suborbital prototype. The problem here is that suborbital is not a great market for an expensive development program. A fully reusable system begins to offer good returns on satellite launching services. But asteroid mining may generate two way traffic that really increases the value of this system. The real future belongs to manned operations where safety and comfort mean much more than lower insurance costs. For now consider the market potential of regular low cost reliable reusable satellite launches. And remember; the orbital vehicles will be even more interesting than these prototypes.
EXODUS AEROSPACE PROTOTYPE P5; “SKIP”
STAGE SEPARATION AT HIGH ALTITUDE TO REDUCE AERODYNAMIC THREATS
FIRST STAGE RETURNING TO MOUNTAIN HOME
SECOND STAGE ON ASSIGNMENT
So; are we done? No, we are just getting started. There is one more big target that we need to look at. The Saturn moon program was too expensive, and now we are doing it again. The Space Launch System (Senate Launch System) is dictated to NASA by pork barrel politicians. How expensive is it?
Almost ANY competitive commercial design is better than this for cost. Spacex is not my favorite of course but this is a pretty good comparison.
New space people don’t want to move a six man crew to Mars for a one time mission that we can’t afford to repeat. They want to move a population to space colonization. You can’t get there from here. To throw away the booster and the national budget is not the answer. The future market will need large crews for lunar bases and space station operations. Those crews will want to have shore leave on the earth. Mining operations will want to return large volumes of precious metals and minerals in regular flight schedules. We need heavy lifters with light budgets which require heavy investment in reliable reusable vehicles.
What could impossibly tiny Exodus Aerospace offer against a program of that scale? Perhaps a preview of common sense would help. Well if we took the same fuel load, number of stages, and keep the engines reusable we may have an interesting comparison as a horizontal launch vehicle.
ADD AIR BREATHING ENGINES AND AN X-37 STYLE UPPER STAGE
AND LET COMMERCIAL SPACE PRICES PREVAIL
(ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TO ELECT SOME SENSIBLE CONGRESSMEN!)
TRUE AIRLINE EFFICIENCY IS POSSIBLE…AND CHEAPER TOO!
WHITE ROSE: THE ORBITAL AIRLINER
Well, possible and probable may be as different as elected official and honesty. For now there are a few steps between the “Skip” prototype and the manned space future. Sorry, we are NOT going to show you the next prototypes! I can reveal the prototype names though:
Highly Optimistic Prototype (HOP) model under construction
Staging Key Intermediate Prototype (SKIP) small satellite launcher
Junior Unmanned Mission Prototype (JUMP) heavy satellite launcher
Launcher Evolved Advanced Prototype (LEAP) small manned prototype
Now we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from one giant leap for bad acronyms!
While this looks a bit like pie in the sky, every adventure begins with one small step for man. For us it is to identify the strongest market and press in to the first flight vehicles. We are already being approached by a group with interest in the manned missions. But it is more important to get customer interest from satellite and asteroid mining missions at this stage. Satellite servicing missions are another possibility. The future will include a lot of traffic to the moon, and workers coming home on leave. Mars needs lunar fuel and construction facilities in low gravity. The road to the stars is totally dependent on reaching low earth orbit efficiently.
For routine space access this is not a solution; This is THE solution. For all the above reasons we will use the limited manpower we have to educate the customer base and deliver a true growth market to investors. This is a big market, and a big commercial opportunity; now boarding! EXODUS AEROSPACE
WINGS TO SPACE…THE WRIGHT STUFF
A REALLY BIG STEP FOR MAN...
There seems to be a lot of help out there for new space business…if you don’t want to really make a difference. But then what really would make a difference? Cube satellites, experiments, or small satellite launchers?
Elon Musk is the name that seems to threaten the industry. Reusable rockets are a promise we have been waiting for and it seems to be getting closer with vertical landings. Eventually we may see a second stage and then a capsule recovered from orbital missions. But how does Spacex compare to the X-37? Sure the X-37 throws away a booster but the orbiter returns to be reused…every time. It has had no crashes and went back to flight after two years on orbit. They just keep on working. Wings work.
So here I come with the wild idea that wings are good for climb to space, reentry, and reusability. An old guy with no credentials thinks that he might have a better idea than the guys with all the money and government funding. Can it happen? A farm boy with no credentials brought mass production to the auto industry.
Exodus Aerospace is incorporated and still has only an old man and a dog on the payroll. Volunteers have been coming and going for two years. We do have some very qualified partners who have a day job and little time to spare. Belief is there but we really need full-fledged partners. I do the office, computer designs, marketing, management, and day dreams. Reality suggests that my vision is meant for super heavy investment. That requires a great leader, team, business plan, customers, and extreme technology advantages. We can get help with most of that but a team requires people who come to work. In the beginning that means sweat equity; free work for a promise of future wealth. We lack this.
I tested models, paid patent lawyers, and produced endless design proposals. Gradually I fix the mistakes of the last design. Now our volunteers have contributed value from their greater technical and business experience. We are getting better designs and business plans but we are a long way from being ready to seek investment.
Our proposals have been aimed at low tech low speed suborbital demonstrations at first. But suborbital markets are overrated. The satellite market is the big money pool now. So we are raising the bar to make a realistic customer base and business plan for investors. That pushes us into a much higher investment requirement. The price will be very high, but why not? The returns from satellite companies are also much much higher. It makes sense to aim the development cost at the best market. Our design proposal may still be too small and too modest.
If investors are to get a return they have to dominate the competition. So we offer patents and other inventions that the competition can’t have. We also have to target much better performance than any launch system has seen before. We will deliver performance, reusable economy, and reliability that can lower insurance costs. The systems are also scalable to manned operations where comfort is also a factor. We can offer a long list of advantages but we still suffer from one disadvantage: poverty.
Investment needs a leader and a team just as much as technology and a business plan. I put all my time and money into this and I need partners who also understand sacrificial investment. I understand that I offer little to insure your investment but getting familiar with the design and the team will reveal the value here. That only happens if the team is ready to come to work.
With all the help available for business plans and incubation we still need a place for entrepreneurs to meet, dream, and scheme. I offered a Facebook group to inspire people to join in and help. Now I have added a Meetup group. We get a little help but this need serious professional credentials for business and technology.
Perhaps a big space advocacy group could host a forum for venture proposals. This is not a place for the weak hearted though; broken space ventures litter the landscape. Finding truly sacrificial makers is rare. I think that this need to meet and greet is a greater need than all the other training out there. The team is more important than all the other factors. We can expect that any venture big enough to deliver real value will need a happy crew.
I am actually asking people to move to Wheatland Wyoming to work on a new space venture. Oh this is rural America and our entertainment includes the county fair, demolition derby, and a rodeo. But it rarely includes any kind of crime, stress, or hostility. If you feel hostile go take out an elk or some rainbow trout in the mountains. You can come to work and know that your kids probably won’t be in any crime worse than painting graffiti on the freeway underpass. For now work from home or just pay us a visit. We are here for a reason, there are some great new space ventures in this area.
If you want to consider learning more about our effort our Exodus Blog and Facebook Groups offer a little running news about the venture. On Facebook you can actually jump in and comment on the news. Others in the group have made contributions over the years. But everyone is encouraged to consider joining the actual company that we are forming. New space is a participation sport, not a spectator sport.
GOING TO MARS? REALLY?? ON FRIDAY THE 13TH?
People are recruiting volunteers to go to Mars…on a one way ticket. If you are considering that invitation do consider taking a simulated Mars mission. That is what I offered to our interns at the University of Wyoming. How could we do that? My experience of over two years living in a 16 ft. box offers some insight. In my quest to meet builders who can fabricate space qualified vehicles I have been using my travel trailer to advantage. It has moved from Mojave to Michigan and a few trips to Texas and Wyoming on the quest and it has been educational.
So we can actually set up camp in a remote mountain camp and support our design work on the computers with the self contained generator and life support of this trailer. Some pioneers may chose tent shelters even as a Mars base may have multiple dwellings. But many features of civilization are available with a kitchen and head facilities. This could be an interesting venture for our new Meetup groups. We can have recreation and get some work done at the same time.
When I left our interns in Colorado and Laramie Wyoming I went on a test run, a reconnaissance mission for our simulated Mars mission. Between Laramie and Wheatland on Highway 34 there is a game area in the mountains. The Tom Thorne/Beth Williams wildlife management area is perfect…sort of. It is situated at altitude so you have a partial high altitude low oxygen environment. There are few trees on the mountains and the landscape is a bit barren. The roads are challenging, and weather can deliver a bit of interest.
So we left Laramie and passed the usual prairie and antelope along highway 34. There was a cloud over the mountains as we passed from the high plains down through the 8,000+ ft. pass to the canyon below. That is typical for the warm air to be agitated by the mountains and then turn out crank weather for the valley below. At the entrance to the game area we dropped into low range four wheel drive for the truck trail in. We were greeted by an unusual sign that set the tone for the mystery ahead.
A blank white sign had a hand scrawled message: “Stephen Dell Jester was murdered here 2016.” Now I know Stephen, he is my electrician in Wheatland, about 25 miles away. Later I learned that he has some strange acquaintances and this was just a prank. But there was no cell signal to confirm that on our first night. Just a foggy grey mystery night shaping up in the Wyoming Wilderness.
As we pressed on through the narrow road with my wide load we found the river flowing over the bridge. Spring runoff was heavy, but I locked the rear differential and plunged in. We made it with no problem, and continued on…to another flooded ford! Again we hit the gas and plunged through the torrent successfully. Weaving through the narrow passage through trees and branches led uphill to a lake and three campsites. The only level one was number three, high above the lake on a ledge. This seemed a perfect spot for a Mars landing. Perhaps we will name it “Murphy’s Landing” after this trip.
THE MAJORITY POPULATION OF WYOMING
AND DIVING IN
OUR FIRST WARM GREETING
OUR LANDING SITE; PUNCTUATION BY THE N.R.A.
CAMPING AREA “C”
AND THE PREVIOUS TENANT OF OUR CAMPSITE…
WINTER IS HARD ON COYOTES TOO!
STILL DARING US TO EXPLORE OFF THE LEASH A BIT
PERFECT FOR SKINNY-DIPPING (OR FURRY DIPPING IF YOU PREFER)
WE HIKED DOWN THE ROAD BACK INTO THE VALLEY BELOW
CHECKING OUT THE RUNOFF FROM A HIGH WATERFALL
WHERE I NOTICED A BROKEN PIECE OF METAL…THAT FIT MY HITCH LOCK KEY!
THE TRAILER HASN’T ROLLED OFF THE CLIFF INTO THE LAKE…YET.
WHY YES, THERE IS SOMETHING MISSING. THIS IS THE SECOND ONE OF THESE TO BREAK ON ME NOW.
SPARE PARTS…DON’T LEAVE EARTH WITHOUT SOME…LOTS OF THEM!
SKID PAN IS A BIT BENT TOO…PROBABLY FROM ARIZONA THOUGH.
LICENCE PLATE NEARLY RIPPED OFF TOO…NEW SCREWS MOVED TO THE BOTTOM HOLES.
OLD ARMY HABITS PAY OFF ON MARS
A TRUCK CAME IN…WAS THIS THE INSANE CAMPGROUND ELECTRICIAN KILLER?
THEY SET UP AT THE LAKE SO I GOT OUT THE SUPER ZOOM CAMERA…
NAH, JUST A KID OUT FISHING WITH HIS GIRL…IN SHORTS? PERHAPS THEY ARE CRAZY.
COUNTY 13 ON PLATE IS NEAR DOUGLASS. EITHER THEY ARE WAY MORE USED TO THE COLD UP THERE OR THEY WENT TO COLLEGE IN LARAMIE AND EDUCATED THEIR BRAINS OUT? SEE THE GOOSE BUMPS?
EVEN THE GOOSE SAYS: “TAKE HER TO A NICE MOVIE NEXT TIME YA SILLY GOOSE!”
WE ENJOYED A QUIET NIGHT…WITH THE DOOR LOCKED, BEAR SPRAY AND A MACHETTE NEAR BY.
WHILE MY FEROCIOUS GUARD DOG ENJOYED A SOUND NIGHT’S SLEEP. (AND HOGGED THE BED)
WE SURVIVED TO A MISTY SATURDAY THE 14TH.
SO WE STARTED HOME
AND RE-CROSSED THE FLOODED BRIDGE. NOTICE THAT WHITE WATER?
A CURB THERE
WHICH BENT BOTH RIMS AND FLATTENED THE TIRES. ONLY ONE SPARE…
SO A FAST 50 MILE RUN TO WHEATLAND GOT THE RIMS BEAT OUT, BUT I DID HAVE A KILLER TIRE TO REPLACE. SEE THE BARE CORDS? BAD NEWS GOOD NEWS; IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE!
SOON WE HAD THE WHEELS DOWN AND THE JACKS GOING UP FOR THE ROAD AGAIN.
WE SQUEEZE BETWEEN THE TREES TO HOME PORT,
UNLOADED THE LAUNDRY AND GROCERIES
AND SALVAGED MY LAUNDRY WITH SPRAY AND WASH!
AND SOME DAY WE MAY MOW THE LAWN
Well if I haven’t scared off all of our potential interns and partners yet we may have to do this again with a bigger crew. And you may visit another mountain range then, the Snowy Range offers free camping south west of Laramie. In 2013 I went there as a shakedown trip before another Arizona run. SHAKEDOWN BREAKDOWN offers another look at the adventure of engineering design in the field. By the way I called the same RV repair service when I was in Laramie this time too!
While there are problems in every enterprise, the crew of the enterprise is the key to the plot. That is the reason for the mobile office, to move relationships in face to face meetings. We can’t hire everybody and move them to some glorious office in a metropolis with traffic jams and high crime rates. I hope you’re not disappointed. For now I hope to increase the amount of time my computers can spend at your location. We can work from home with limited time as long as we have relationships than can grow trust and eventually equity in the venture.
We will be cultivating new relationships in Colorado and Wyoming through our Meetup dot com group: Laramie Aerospace Meetup. We will talk to the Experimental Aircraft Association in Cheyenne, and Tripoli rocketry groups as well. I hope to tour firms in Wyoming and Colorado, universities, and related ventures. We just launched this “Horizontal In Line Launch Staging (HILLS)” project on the STEMN space project website too.
There is a Missile Silo in Chugwater Wyoming with two new space ventures blazing trails to the new frontier. In fact, Frontier Astronautics is a great field trip we will put together soon. this can stir a lot of interest with aviation and rocketry interests. Aero and Space need to start talking to each other again! Perhaps we can get a tour of Sierra Nevada’s Dreamchaser project in Colorado too?
This trailer was modified to provide a complete self contained field office for our search for new space solutions. It was 5 years old in 2012 and now it has 4 more years of service. Things go wrong per Murphy’s law, but we can go on with a little effort, and a little duct tape. The purpose to find vendors and partners is paying off. Now we are ready to build one small step with flight hardware. But investors want to see more than technology. A viable productive team is a major part of their decision process. And investment is another area where innovation is ongoing in this “Space Corner” of Wyoming and Colorado.
The prototype shown here is number five (P5) in a series. We will focus on demonstrating some of the technologies on prototype P4 as an affordable high value flight demonstration. Staging and a safe landing is important to building confidence and new technologies. Prototype P5 may deliver a lot more exciting performance with another round of investment. First we demonstrate basic design, analysis, and fabrication on P4. Then we present solid blueprints and studies t o entry level funding sources. Don’t worry, P4 will be simpler, easier to deliver, and still exciting. Trade studies will flesh out the specifics as we move ahead.
We will eventually be able to work on site with vendors, make presentations at space conferences, and display at air shows like Airventure. Bring some of your volunteer hours to the mission and we can upgrade our incorporation papers to deliver equity in the venture. This will deliver interest from industry, government, and investors. this is one of the few growth segments in our economy today. Are you ready to boldly go?
With the cargo loaded and secured we left Phoenix on May 5, 2016. We proceeded to get lost, a flat tire, and a quiet night somewhere (??) in the Mongolon Rim country of Arizona. National forests let you stay almost anywhere for free camping, so who cares where the “right” spot is? A half day drive took us to a favorite south east of Gallup New Mexico. The Cibola National forest offered a mountain top rest with great views by day and stars by night.
Another half day took us to Storrie Lake State Park with lots of waves as winds gusted to 50 mph; just like Wyoming! Easy half day drives relieve the stress of driving and allowed us to enjoy the natural beauty of the west as we traveled. The next stop took us to the Sugarite Canyon State park near the Colorado border. Dog and I love snooping around the beaver dams and bear tracks there. Dog lurks in her car “cave” back seat all night to guard us. I have a can of bear spray in case she ever does see one!
The longest leg took us through Denver traffic to Longmont Colorado. The Boulder County fairgrounds camp is another favorite stop over because it offers meetings with partners in the University of Colorado and area businesses. We met intern Will Pfouts and Shadowair drones owner Jim Macdonald at this stop. We also got engineer Chris Mento by phone to firm up plans for aircraft development.
By Wednesday May 11 we were ready to head north to Laramie Wyoming for two more nights. The road north from Colorado passed through high population areas aqnd high altitude areas. We fought grades and gusts as we moved north into the true high plains country. Laramie is situated at 7,000 feet and greeted us with wind and cold. We got water and sewer connections but we had to bring the hose in to prevent freezing! Thursday brought calm warm weather though so dog got some sun bathing in. I got the barbecue so we can keep eating too! We have a good trailer repair man here so the water pump and refrigerator got some work done too.
On Thursday the 12th dog and I greeted Jordan Edson and David Case from the University of Wyoming. We hope to foster interest in the “space corners” of Wyoming and Colorado on Meetup dot com. There are schools, space ventures, and field trips of interest coming up in the future. Now our business meetings are complete and we will start working on a hardline airframe design in the coming weeks.
CLEAN AND ROLLING NORTH
ARIZONA RIM COUNTRY IS WOODED AND MUCH COOLER THAN PHOENIX!
UNLESS YOU GET A FLAT TIRE JUST BEFORE NIGHT FALL!
BUT I DID GET A GOOD USED TIRE IN HERBER ARIZONA THE NEXT DAY
AND CONTINUED ON TO THE CIBOLA NATIONAL FOREST
EAST OF GALLUP NEW MEXICO
WHERE I CLIMBED A ROCKY KNOLL FOR A SHOT OF THE RED CLIFFS
NORTH OF HIGHWAY 40
CLIMBINMG AT ALTITUDE WORE US OUT FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S REST
AND DOG GETS HER NIGHT OF GUARDING CAMP FROM HER “CAVE” IN THE CAR
FOLLOWED BY A BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE…
FOLLOWED BY SLEET AND MUD BEFORE WE COULD GET ON THE ROAD!
WE WENT ON TO STORRIE LAKE STATE PARK IN CENTRAl NEW MEXICO
IT WAS WINDY AND COLD…JUST LIKE HOME IN WYOMING!
BUT HALF-LAB HAD TO GET HALF-WET ANYWAY
(BUT HALF COON DOG DID CHASE OFF A COON IN COLORADO LATER!)
ANOTHER HALF DAY DRIVE TOOK US TO SUGARITE CANYON
NEAR THE COLORADO BORDER
WE RESERVED A GREAT CAMP SITE AMONG THE JUST LEAFING TREES
EXPLORED TRAILS AND BEAVER DAMS THERE
YUP…BEAVER FER SURE!
AND LATER, OTHER INTERESTING CRITTERS
ROLLING NORTH IN COLORADO NEVER FEELING TOO BIG
TO THE BOULDER COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS IN LONGMONT COLORADO
WHERE WE MET WITH JIM MACDONALD OF SHADOWAIR AND INTERN WILL PFOUTS
MEETINGS AND HIKES WERE PRODUCTIVE BUT WE HAVE MORE
MEETINGS IN LARAMIE SO OFF WE GO
AFTER A FREEZING NIGHT IN THE KOA CAMP IN LARAMIE,
DOG FINALLY GOT TO WARM IN THE SUN!
LARAMIE IS NEAR THE MOUNTAINS AND EVEN THE HIGH PLAINS ARE AT 7,000 FEET!
DAVID CASE (LEFT) AND JORDAN EDSON JOINED US IN LARAMIE
WE WILL NEED INTERNS TO GET WORK DONE FOR THE PROTOTYPE
NOW WE HAVE COMPLETED ALL BUT ONE PART OF OUR MISSION…
WE LOAD FOR A SPECIAL PLACE AHEAD
PREPARE TO MARCH ORDER
My time in Arizona is winding down after the Space Access 2016 conference. My time lately has been used to shop, hike in the desert trails, and get a new pair of glasses. My Windows computer crashed and was revived with Windows 8 instead of the 8.1 that forced itself on my and messed up the whole computer. We also blocked any future invasion of Windows number ten. As a final defense I began training our new Macbook Pro to carry on in future operations.
We also replaced the now defunct Starband satellite dish with a Verizon Jetpack hot spot. It should work wherever there is cell coverage. It has not been too reliable in the Phoenix area though. When I get back to Wheatland this pitiful Libre Office suite will also be replaced with the real Microsoft Office.
While living in the trailer I had the opportunity to do repairs and cleaning on this mobile field office and rolling cubicle. Arizona hosts a multitude of trailer repair and supply retailers. Naturally the SUV also wanted attention so a flat tire got a patch job. Then the vehicle got the first major cleaning in over a year…just in time for a rain storm.
While in the Phoenix area I visited the vendors who are prepared to help fabricate our prototype. Mace Aviation fabricates advanced composites, and offers skills from Space Ship One and the Lockheed Skunk Works. Performance One Aviation delivers composite aircraft assembly for high performance composite aircraft. I took time to photograph construction details that may suggest direction for our design crews.
I also visited our model builder to see progress. We had been hindered by the former builder’s medical problems. We should be back on schedule with that build now. That design previewed the detail needed for the next prototype design including center of gravity projections. It generated a lot of blueprints and laser cut parts. No wonder it is taking a while to build!
As we travel north we will visit partners in Boulder and Laramie for a couple of days each. This should allow a leisurely and productive trip. Later I will visit Frontier Astronautics to plan propulsion and guidance ideas. Now we begin packing for liftoff!
BACK IN THE PARK WHERE THE TRAILER FIRST BECAME HQ IN 2012
ENJOYING THE TRAILS AGAIN
AND VIEWS OF APACHE JUNCTION AND SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN
WITH ALL THE LOCAL COLOR
THIS EQUIPMENT IS GONE INTO HISTORY NOW..
REPLACED BY THIS!
AND THIS MACBOOK WILL REPLACE THE DESKTOP FOR CAD WORK SOON
WHILE THE TRAILER IS REPAIRED
AND A TIRE GETS PATCHED TOO
THE VEHICLE GETS WASHED AND WAXED..
INSIDE AND OUT.
JUST IN TIME FOR A RAIN STORM!
VISITING MACE AVIATION OUR FABRICATION TEAM
AND PERFORMANCE ONE FOR ASSEMBLY
AND SOME OF THE “KITS” THEY BUILD
DON LANDRUS OUR MODEL BUILDER
AND TWO STAGES SHAPING UP
BACK IN CAMP ANTICIPATING THE ORDER TO LAUNCH!
PROVISIONS FOR THE JOURNEY
BEATING THE HEAT!
ONE LAST LOOK BACK AT APACHE JUNCTION
THE WAGON IS HITCHED UP AGAIN