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CAPTAIN’S LOG 16 MAY TO 01 JULY 2015

June 30, 2015

SOUR GRAPES

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.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=1b5130e57f70f0c5924968f70277d1f1&tab=core&tabmode=list&=

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

Limit

 

No. of

Hard

Copies1

Required

CD Copies

I Technical/Management Capability 20 4 2
SRR Level Package 150 4 2
Small Business Utilization 15 4 2
II Past Performance 7 4 2
   
III Price None 4 2
  Financial Statements None 1 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.

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LIFE AT HOME IS GOOD

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FATTENING, BUT GOOD!

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AND RESTFUL

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WHERE THE GRASS IS GREENER

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STILL A LITTLE SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN

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UNTIL THE SPRING RAINS GREEN THINGS UP

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WE STILL VISIT THE FRONTIER ASTRONAUTICS SILO

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PREPARING

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FOR EXPERIMENTS…LIKE THE CHILI POWERED ROCKET!

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WE STILL NEED BIG IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE

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AND LITTLE TREATS FOR TODAY

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THE ONLY SURE PAYCHECK:  SUNSETS

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AND DREAMS

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)

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