WYOMING: GATEWAY TO THE NEW FRONTIER
I BOUGHT A CAR AND A TRAILER IN 2012 AND SET OUT TO DISCOVER NEW SPACE ENTERPRISE. Frontier Astronautics of Chugwater Wyoming offered important assets, and the state of Wyoming is totally business friendly. Chugwater is a bit lean on retail stores so the next town, Wheatland, became my new home. The RV parks of Wheatland are home to many workers on the move. RVs are the modern covered wagon. Although I grew up in Michigan, I have family out here so this is home to me now.
We are moving to incorporate but it takes careful planning NOT to be one of the many broken space ventures that litter the landscape. We have some well experienced talent coming on board for the voyage now, so we do have some promise. For design the promise is this: CHANGE. The designs are already obsolete as marketing and engineering bring their red pens to the blueprints!
We have some marketing direction now, and there are places to use a small vehicle for small ventures. But horizontal launch has a big price tag for small ventures. Reusable demands reliable, which is good in the long run but less so up front. Most small launchers push for simplicity so they have some cost advantages. We need a value proposition that leads to bigger profits to follow this prototype.
Launch providers today are mostly expendable, including most rocket stages on air launch systems. Government tends to favor retro systems because there is no pressure to innovate. Vertical systems are spectacular, like steam engines, but not a direction for the future. That leaves the private sector to see the need. What will be the “Wright stuff” to make this happen? Those who invest in the small vehicle need to see the big picture of the future need. If we move our patents together with other new technologies we may be able to paint that big picture.
For those of us involved in the planning sessions that picture is already taking shape, so Join us for a look at the Wyoming Stargate!
BIG HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
DEEP IN THE PLANNING SESSIONS AT…
EXODUS AEROSPACE WORLD HEADQUARTERS (OUR 100 YEAR OLD HOME)
LARAMIE PEAK; LANDMARK OF THE OREGON TRAIL; FIRST MOUNTAIN OFF THE PRAIRIE
ON THE CROSSROADS OF HISTORY
WHERE EVEN THE CARS ARE LONG IN THE TOOTH!
AND PIONEER TRADITION DIES HARD…
WHERE THE RIDERS ARE ROUGH
THE PIONEER SPIRIT FOLLOWS THE TRAIL TO THE VISION
OF A BETTER PLACE FOR THE FUTURE…
EXODUS AEROSPACE NEW WORLD HEADQUARTERS!
MY KIND OF CUBICLE!
AND UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
LET US DREAM OF THE FUTURE,
HITCH OUR WAGON TO THE STARS…
AND PREPARE TO BOLDLY GO
I went to the Space Access Conference to recruit partners for this venture. I have two potential partners now, and we have identified two or three new partners since then. The newest entries have some real aerospace credentials, and one even helped with my NASA efforts n the past.
I have responded to NASA solicitations in the past. I joined two aerospace professionals to bid on the methane thruster competition, but then NASA cancelled the competition. That was later awarded to Xcor so we might wonder where the competitive bidding went. Later we entered a competition asking creative inventors for game changing ideas. The response we got might be paraphrased as “We at NASA already know everything there is to know about aerodynamics”. Did Anyone mention to them that aerodynamics had major influence on Space Ship Two and the last Spacex mission?
At the space conference I observed that NASA asked for papers on reusable launch systems but the offer was only open for about a month. I was assured of another chance for the actual contract coming shortly. So I asked my team to watch the federal solicitations page for that announcement. I deliver a spreadsheet with program goals and this was a top priority, highlighted in red with bold yellow text. In Trek-speak that translates as “Red Alert…shields up!”
I finally checked the announcements and found that we MISSED THE RELEASE DATE. Realistically the requirements for submission might be met by a company with enough office staff to run like crazy and get proposals, costs, and reports turned in. So “new space” ventures with small teams and funding may not have been invited by design. This solicitation was issued on May 15, 2015 and is due by July 13 2015 so we had few credible assets for this target.
There are groups who may be able to launch a 60kg satellite in three years, but who can get all this paperwork done well on short notice? We are not damaged by technology, we may be crippled by bureaucracy…which I can’t even spell let alone operate. Here are some targets for the submission:
The following page limitations are established for each portion of the proposal submitted in response to this solicitation.
|Volume||Proposal Part Required||Page
|SRR Level Package||150||4||2|
|Small Business Utilization||15||4||2|
|Signed Model Contract||None||1||2|
Seriously my venture was never in a position to generate this effort. But then is any newspace venture able to do this? A pretty well heeled venture could get people to generate such a proposal if they risked a lot of man-hours of effort to do the proposal. This part of a new venture is the hard part; the investment of free labor hours.
Now we address the idea of launching a new venture in space. Someone has to lead the way by preparing a technology, a business plan, and marketing efforts. Customer interest may attract investment but it has to be good enough to deliver 20 times their investment at a predetermined time. The whole package requires your investment in sweat and cash. Partners may expect equity in return for sweat: actual labor. So the leader has to go first.
I have invested over $40,000 in cash. Labor for only the drafting work (not counting marketing, administration, and various education) is already over $160,000. I hope I have demonstrated a little commitment in this effort. Perhaps I can hope to inspire a similar investment from my team. Over the years I have seen mixed results in this area. I was taught: “But Jesus said to him, No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Many have joined, but few have shown up for work on Monday. Breaking news: if you want equity, send SWEAT!
NASA is not our market. Just ask your Native American friends about government contracts. We have more potential for a certain commercial market that our small vehicles can pioneer for now. We may explore a government offering for practice, but I am not willing to hang all of my hopes on those.
LIFE AT HOME IS GOOD
FATTENING, BUT GOOD!
WHERE THE GRASS IS GREENER
STILL A LITTLE SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN
UNTIL THE SPRING RAINS GREEN THINGS UP
WE STILL VISIT THE FRONTIER ASTRONAUTICS SILO
FOR EXPERIMENTS…LIKE THE CHILI POWERED ROCKET!
WE STILL NEED BIG IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE
AND LITTLE TREATS FOR TODAY
THE ONLY SURE PAYCHECK: SUNSETS
Well, dreams are great but space is a really mean business environment. NASA wants a competent builder with good finances and leaders with a record of success. They know that the market is littered with the wreckage of new space ventures. Even well funded efforts are passing through the expected path of crash and learn. I see lots of little spaceplane teams with some credentials. Others have built on vertical launch with good new technologies to demonstrate. Most of our little efforts do not have the mean spirited business men who can fire the deadwood or even figure out who it is. If we think ourselves to be beggars we may think that we can’t be choosers. But unless your team has the passion for sacrifice they will not see the summit of this mountain. Fiscal acrophobia is not permitted!
Honestly, small teams with a few good men may not have enough horsepower to make the climb. Any vehicle requires a multitude of disciplines to cover propulsion, airframes, guidance, thermal protection, and aerodynamics. Yes, you vertical guys have to watch aerodynamics too! Then you have to move prototypes to production methods, and manage the business of making money for employees and investors. Hey-I just got a phone call from a money broker offering a half-million dollars to us. That won’t even pay for the design effort…and they want to get paid back on time! Space is an environment that kills dreams on the way to low earth orbit. Good luck to you Mars tourists!
Exodus Aerospace can use the winged development to serve some small markets in the atmosphere. Unmanned markets are expanding but they have not discovered all the opportunities out there. We need to see a payoff for investors who create our first small prototypes. Vertical launch can’t loiter in the atmosphere or slow down long enough to explore the opportunities. Conventional unmanned airframes also miss some performance potential. While the dinosaurs have some time here, the little creatures can scurry under their feet…into the future. Big aerospace and government may be impervious to innovation but we can be content to make small steps in the little things.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Luke 16:10New Living Translation (NLT)
CAPTAIN’S LOG 18 MAY 2015
Our last post concluded on an overnight stop near Albuquerque NM. We visited a small airport to see a small jet engine with big potential. Desert Aerospace markets the TJ 100 turbines we are looking at. http://www.desertaerospace.com/turbines.html
Bob Carlton gave us a tour and more information about the engines and the aircraft currently using them. These have electric start, generator, fuel and oil pumps and electronic controls. As we noted before, these are no model airplane engines.
After that visit we returned to course 360 and began the long climb from New Mexico to Colorado. One overnight stop at Sugarite Canyon State Park got us ready for the last leg. We had a little issue with Denver traffic and some cargo fell out of the cabinets, but we soon reached the familiar big skies of Wyoming. After unpacking and a good night’s rest we were greeted by the same weather that sent us to Arizona…snow!
WAKE UP TO THE SUN SHINE IN NEW MEXICO…
FOR A WHILE AT LEAST!
DESERT AEROSPACE, NEAR OLD ROUTE 66.
OUR LITTLE DREAM ENGINE ON A SUB SONEX
BACK TO THE NORTH
AND OVERNIGHT IN SUGARITE CANYON STATE PARK AGAIN.
A BARBEQUE FOR ENERGY
GETTING A LEG UP ON A GOOD NIGHT’S REST!
MAPS AND SNACKS LOADED
CHECKLIST: ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR LAUNCH!
ONE LAST HIKE BEFORE THE LONG TRIP
SPRING IS SLOWLY AWAKENING IN NEW MEXICO
BEGINNING THE CLIMB TO…
AND THE LANDMARK OF CHUGWATER WYOMING.
I want to make some Indians sneaking up behind him!
SQUEEZE BETWEEN THE TREES!
AND UNLOAD AFTER THE TRAFFIC UPSETS
CLEAN UP THE SPILLS
AND RECLAIM MY HOME
5 LOADS OF LAUNDRY
WHY DO YOU THINK THEY CALL IT A “QUEEN” SIZED BED?
CAPTAIN’S LOG 15 MAY 2015
We left Apache Junction Arizona late on Wednesday May 13 after a good meal at Dirtwater Springs with Don Eyermann. Our first stop was projected to be 4 hours by Google Maps, but my trailer rarely gets over 60 mph so we pulled in to a campsite at midnight. There are many national forest roads near Show Low Arizona and the pine woods offered a much cooler starry night. We look like some alien craft at night, and the dark woods were a quiet break from the constant noise of land and air traffic in Arizona. I will miss the roar of radial engines of the warbirds though.
Our late loading effort left some cargo misplaced and hard to access but we settled in for a good night of rest after a starlight walk. Dog stayed out listening to the creatures of the night for quite a while. Sunrise revealed our campsite and the empty woods around us. Dog got to run off the leash to sniff and hunt for a while. Then we were off to New Mexico.
CAMPING IN CRITTER WORLD
READY FOR BEDDIE
AND READY FOR THE NEW DAY
OFF THE LEASH AND FREE
GREAT BLACK HUNTER
BURNING UP THE ROAD
READY TO PULL OUT
FOREST ROADS AREN’T PERFECT BUT CAMPING IS FREE
NEW MEXICO REST AREA…VERY BASIC
BYOTP…YES THOSE ARE SOILED BVDS BACK THERE
GOOGLE MAPS SENT ME ON A DUBIOUS SHORTCUT; NARROW FOR A TRAILER LOAD
WHICH TOOK ME TO THE MALPAIS NATIONAL MONUMENT
MALPAIS IS SPANISH FOR BAD PLACE OR BADLANDS
IMPOSSIBLE TO WALK OR BUILD ROADS ON MANY MILES OF LAVA FLOWS
EXCEPT WHERE STOPPED BY A WALL OF ROCK CALLED THE NARROWS
AN OCEAN OF LAVA FORCES THE ROAD TO FOLLOW THIS TILTED PLATE
MODERN HIGHWAY 40 FINALLY BLASTED THROUGH TO…
ALBUQUEQUE…ALL BU Q Q?
AND THE ROUTE 66 RV PARK
AND REST FOR THE ROAD WEARY
HAVING AN EXTRA DAY THE DAWN OFFERED TIME FOR REPAIRS
THE PREVIOUS NIGHT WAS A BIT CROWDED WITH OUR LOAD
SO THE LOAD WAS MADE MORE ACCESSIBLE AND SECURED
JUST BEFORE THE THUNDERSTORMS AND 30 MPH GUSTS ROCKED THE BOAT
AND WE GOT TOTAL RELIEF FROM ARIZONA TEMPERATURES
TOTAL GRIEF RELIEF
NOW WE NEED TO LOSE THOSE RAINY DAY BLUES! (AND ENJOY A SNOOZE!)
CAPTAIN’S LOG 13 MAY 2015
Having completed activities in warmer climates we are ready to return to Wyoming to launch Exodus Aerospace. Fellow entrepreneur Don Eyermann is using the CAD computer for an electric three wheeled vehicle design while I pack for the trip. http://www.erv1.com/
The car hasn’t been washed for 6 month since we left during a 10 below and blizzard conditions. The trailer was washed so the car got the treatment this time. Dog and I made a few more trips into the desert trails before we left too.
Stops are planned for national parks and aerospace products along the way. The first leg is short to allow an easy drive. As it turned out we were late packing and made the park a little late so the short trip leg was a good plan.
TAILS ON TRAILS
APACHE JUNCTION VISTA
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN MOODS
WAS THIS A COYOTE OR A DOG? THE DESERT STILL KILLS
CAR WASH NEEDED…BADLY
WAXING INSIDE AND OUT
DON MULTI-TASKING MEALS AND DESIGNS
READY TO ROLL
ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR LAUNCH
ONE LAST DESERT TRAIL ON THE WAY NORTH
SPACE ACCESS 2015 IS OUR CHANCE TO GO FOR LAUNCH
The Space Access conference is a big reason for my trip to Arizona. Preparations and anticipation are growing. I spent days preparing displays and had to replace my printer in the process. Just another casualty of the war on poverty! Dog and I still had a few more days to enjoy the trails before our return to Wyoming later. The Month of May adds insects to the snakes of April though. Bees and tiny biting flies reminded me of Michigan!
The conference delivered some serious progress to our venture, but another venture suffered a serious setback. Charles Pooley of Microlaunchers passed away before the conference. This photo tour covers a lot of hopeful ventures and opportunities. We will share more about our directions when we have firmed up our plans and incorporation.
I expect to leave Arizona on the 13th of May and we have a few important stops along the way. By the end of the month we may have an interesting team assembled. This trip began early due to the ten degree below Wyoming weather in November. Cold weather and blizzards followed us all the way to Texas. Mechanical and medical problems complicated the entire six months of this adventure. In the end we have many new friends in the new space movement. The movement lost a friend who helped many along the way, so we hope we can do so in our endeavors as well.
BURIED IN PREPARATIONS
POSTERS FROM 2013 (BOTTOM) AND 2015 (TOP)
LITTLE FOUR PEAKS AND BIG FOUR PEAKS
SHADOW-SELFIE AND PATIENT DOG
MY SHADOW AND ME
TRAIL’S END SUNSET
AND A LUNAR REMINDER OF THE CONFERENCE COMING
EARLY REGISTRATION GATHERING
OUR DISPLAY TABLE
3D PRINTERS ON THE JOB
THE CONFERENCE STARTS
SURPRISE GUEST…ADAM IS A FOLLOWER OF OUR ORIONCRAFT GROUP ON FACEBOOK
AND A REGULAR; JEFF GREASON OF XCOR
MITCHELL BURNSIDE CLAPP OF DARPA
ELECTRIC FUEL PUMPS NOW MATCH TURBOPUMPS!
REX RIDENOURE OF ECLIPTIC, AN AVIONICS SUPPLIER
AND ON THE JOB
MICHAEL CARDEN OF XL SPACE SYSTEMS, THE H202 PROVIDER IN WYOMING
BOB STEINKE OF SPEEDUP, ANOTHER WYOMING SPACE VENTURE
BOB ALSO PRESENTED ELECTRIC PUMP POTENTIAL
TIM BENDEL OF FRONTIER ASTRONAUTICS WITH AN AFFORDABLE PRIVATE SPACEPORT
I COMPLAINED ABOUT MISSING AN RFI FOR REUSABLE SUBORBITAL SYSTEMS SO I WAS INFORMED THAT THE HEAD OF THE APPROPRIATE NASA DEPARTMENT WAS SITTING RIGHT BEHIND ME. NO PROBLEM; THE SOLICITATION FOR MONEY HAS NOT BEEN ISSUED YET.
DAVE MASTEN PRESENTED THE SPIRIT OF THE VENTURE.
PERHAPS THE BEST PART OF THIS CONVENTION IS THE MEAL TIME MEETINGS. CASUAL GATHERINGS ALLOW US TO MEET THE OLD GUARD AND THE NEW WAVE OF INNOVATION.
AND ANOTHER BADGE JOINS THE COLLECTION
Exodus aerospace can identify real markets and real talent to build on. There are a few days of packing, and a long road ahead to the future. Now we move from paper airplanes and models to the real world of new space business. In my last blog I remembered my own mortality. I have invested most of my energy and resources in a vision for a better future. Now we are reminded that others before us have shared this desire so we hope that some of these goals will be realized in our lifetime. We will still need young visionaries to carry that hope to completion. Exodus Aerospace expresses the hope to leave the planet for this new frontier. The leadership we may develop should have the support they need to become the next stage in that journey.
CHARLES POOLEY, RIP
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU…
Starting a business is often hard, and more so when you start into aerospace. This is not like starting a sandwich shop. Software ventures don’t need massive design and fabrication costs. Partners and investors know how hard aerospace is and they are hard to find. While I am working to do this I have mundane medical and maintenance needs. The desert offers reminders of the shortness and cruelty of life. My own health suggests that time is limited for mortal man. To the eyes life is heartless and harsh, but my Christian faith has eyes to see hope in the shadow of death.
A RAINBOW IS OFTEN BROUGHT TO US WITH A STORM
THE SIGNS ARE INTIMIDATING
BUT CAN OFTEN JUST BLOW OVER
LEAVING AN EMPTY THREAT
FOR THIS RABBIT THE COYOTE THREAT WAS REAL THOUGH
WHICH ONCE OFFERED A REAL THREAT
I have worked for several years to design and patent a system that may solve problems. I have worked alone, and spent my own money up to this point. Now the job will be too much for a single hand, and we need to incorporate. To this goal I am inviting partners to share equity in the venture. At times the efforts don’t seem to be producing results and my faith is challenged. Over time it seems like a running gun battle with setbacks and counter offensives. Slowly the evidence of progress is coming in. In the old days of naval warfare one might not see how much damage the enemy was taking because of the distances. One would be keenly aware of the damage done by the enemy because of its immediate close impact. By faith they would praise the lord and pass the ammunition until a victory was won. So we press on and continue to build here.
DON LANDRUS IS TAKING IN THE BLUEPRINTS FOR THE MODEL HE WILL BUILD. I THINK WE FOUND AN INSPIRED MODEL BUILDER HERE.
WHO ELSE KEEPS A PILOT IN THE GARAGE?
OR A HOUSE FULL OF AIRPLANES?
AND I MEAN FULL!
EVEN HIS OWN FULL SCALE MODEL
DON’S OWN CANARD TYPE DESIGN
YES, HE HAS BUILT A FEW MODELS!
WORKING CAN BE OPPRESSIVE AS THE HEAT COMES ON
BUT I BUILT THE MODELS IN EVEN MORE HEAT IN THE PAST!
SO I REBUILT THE OLD CORK BOARD WITH NEW PARTS
THIS TIME REINFORCED WITH OAK BRACES
AND RETURNED IT TO SERVICE ON THE BACK WALL
MAJOR CLEANING AND CARPET REPLACEMENT
THE TOOL ROOM IS IN FULL SERVICE ON DECK
THE NEW JUTE RUG AND RUNNER IN PLACE
AND THE SCREEN CLOSURES ALLOW COOL RUNNING IN HOT WEATHER. THE TOY HAULER MAKES A USEFUL OFFICE CONVERSION PLATFORM.
SO WHILE THE STATION APPEARS TO BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION…
Oh, I’m afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive…
We have a few weeks before the Space Access 2015 conference in Phoenix. I hope to generate more participation at that event. Then we will be ready to retreat from the land of heat and reenter the cooling breezes of Wyoming. Will we be ready to incorporate in that tax-free environment?