Nov 2nd Update: Joining “The Vault”

Just wanted to give a quick update on some of what we’ve been up to at Altius Space Machines over the past several weeks.

Contracts
The Ventions avionics contract we previously mentioned has been underway for a few weeks now. I’ll probably need to get their approval before I can share any details, but Ian’s been making solid progress since we had our kickoff meeting with them last month.

We also just signed our second contract today, which is a small feasibility study that should get me on payroll as well. I’m not sure yet what I can say about the project, so I’ll have to fill in the details later.

The Vault
With a second contract, Ian will be joining me up here in Louisville, meaning that we needed to find some workspace to lease. After shopping around, we decided to rent a small office from “The Vault“, which is a coworking space run by the Da Vinci Institute in Louisville. While we do eventually want to get our own space out in the Colorado Technology Center, these first two contracts don’t actually need a full-up shop for their hardware portions, so for the next few months this should work pretty well for us.

The Vault is basically a converted bank (at 511 E South Boulder Road) that is now being used by the Da Vinci institute for coworking space, and to host various startup related networking events. Here’s a picture of one of the events. The office room in the back on the right (the “Gutenberg Suite”) is the one we’re renting.

Hopefully I’ll have some more technical details to talk about soon, or business concept ideas, but for now I wanted to show you the results of some of the “boring details work” that’s an important part of getting a company like this off the ground.

Showing 4 comments
  • David
    Reply

    I like this type of posting because
    1) It shows your progressing which is interesting
    2) It shows the process of the set up and establishment of this sort of company

    Thanks – all very interesting.

  • Seer
    Reply

    Jon, when you have time take a look at this http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/handle/2014/41563 proposal. It is a way of launching cheap propellant to leo using small mass produced rockets, launched from a balloon that is tethered to the ground.

    • admin
      Reply

      Seer,

      Thanks for the interesting link. I’m actually a big fan of the idea of supplying depots with tons of small launches, and I think they did a good job of illustrating the power of reusing in-space hardware and lowering the cost of propellant deliveries (more about that in a later post). But, I did have a few quibbles about implementation. I only had time to skim it, but my initial thoughts:

      1-Never been a big fan of balloons–I’d rather do air launch from a modified airplane than a balloon, even if it reduces possible flight rate a bit. Gives you more launch-site flexibility, and allows you to do a reusable first stage easier–I think it’ll be easier to get low cost per pound with a reusable first stage and expendable upper stage than with three solid stages, but I’m biased. 🙂
      2-Having the initial “depot” in equatorial orbit does increase the number of flight opportunities, but at the cost of a big penalty for plane changes if you need to use it to depart LEO (which you really wan to). You end up throwing out about 3/4 of the propellant that way, which narrows your benefit over picking a more reasonable higher inclination orbit. Equatorial LEO depots only make sense if your Earth-L1 vehicles are also leaving from equatorial LEO.
      3-Not a fan of the depot approach. It’d be much easier to transfer the propellants once into a bigger tank and toss them then trying to glom them all together, do long-duration plumbing and insulating work in zero-G. Though some sort of tug would be required either way, I think it would be easier if the tug only had to grab the propellant tanker, move it up to the depot, and hook-up and then detach the transfer hoses.

      But the concept might be workable, and the general idea of small, low-cost launch of propellant at high flight rates, using depots, is great.

      ~Jon

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