Thursday, April 18, 2019

Space Access 2019 - Thursday morning

I have really enjoyed attending the Space Access conference over the years.  My father, my son and I are attending this years conference, which is in Fremont.  I'll be posting summaries of the various speakers.  My impression is that the number of people attending the conference is higher than in previous years!

Henry Vanderbilt introduced Space Access with a little bit of looking back over the progress over the last thirty years.  Talked a bit about why we are here.  Quoted Jerry Pournelle from 30 years ago in talking about space - “We are the forward planning committee for the human race.”

Going to share some of the lessons learned of small satellite launch business
Talked about helping a Japanese business get a cube satellite launched, a lot of work and money
They estimated 5 cube sats a year, in first year the company was involved in launching 60!
Rockets are like planes and cars, they are built around the engine.  First evaluation, have they fired their rocket for the duration of the flight.  Second is how often can they launch the rocket?
Expecting a bunch of new rockets to be developed
Seeing more money coming to the space, awhile back there were about 600 registered space businesses, now up to 2600, seeing a lot of interest from China, talked about China’s hyper copycat culture
To be a real space company you need: 1) Date  2) Time  3) Terms
There are 129 rocket startups they know of, a lot of it is the same
Has been around the low $20,000 per kilogram
Nanoracks’  most popular item is an a test tube rack, they have had high school students use their product who are now at college, and looking to have the same people develop businesses using their products.  
SpaceX is about to launch about a week!  They need to fill their rockets.  It used to be that it was hard to find space, but expecting that soon there will be rocket companies which trying to fill their rockets.
SpaceX will be a dominate provider, latest numbers they will be charging $2,700 per kilogram
Currently there is no standards for cube satellites
Have had some cube satellites stay up for two years, shooting for three years

Eric Salwan Director of Commercial Business Development at Firefly Aerospace
Currently developing an Alpha vehicle, shooting for a low price point
Their CEO was at SpaceX, Blue Origin and Galactic Space
Listed the people on their advisory board
Seeing a huge demand and growth in small sat business
Their Alpha is targeted for 1000 kilograms LEO and 600 kg for SEO
Had a list of competitors, 8 others, Firefly hoping do a launch this year
They are located in Texas, north of Austin, their launch site is 30 minutes away from their manufacturing, so can integrate quickly
NASA selected them to help with effort to get to the moon
Plan to build 8 rockets a year at Texas site, plan to build up to 24 rockets a year

Involved in investing in space
Looking at the Ecosystem of space, looking for help in finding opportunities

Grant Bonin of Rocket Lab
Grant is new to the company
First slide said: “Frequent, reliable launch is here.”
History of company, founded in 2006, founded with $288 million, have launched 24 satellites, 450 engineers
Launch complex 1 is in New Zealand - only private launch site
building a second launch site in Wallops Island, Virginia
Rutherford engineer - 3-D printed
First launch was May 2017, had 25th launch a few weeks ago (for Darpa), have another one ready for another launch
If had a bigger vehicle couldn’t fly as often, want to fly often so can spread overhead across many flights, looking at 170 kg payload
Plan to launch at least once a month to once every two weeks by end of the year

Flometrics is an engineering services company, design products for other people
1 in 300 launches have trouble because of Turbopumps - seem to be unreliable
Want to make a reliable, durable pump, lighter pump

Relativity Space a venture back company
Raised about $55 Million
They are building a 3D Printed launch vehicle
Relativity Space is trying to disrupt the manufacturing process of rockets
Looking at 10x faster production time, 100x few parts, simple supply chain
They are developing Intelligent Factory Robots, if what to make a change it is fairly easy, they don’t need new manufacturing tools or buildings
And developing new material alloys
Working on a fully 3D printed engine, so it lives in the computer, and they can iterate quickly
The whole manufacturing space is undergoing some major changes, and the Space Industry is in major flux, Relative Space is trying to ride both waves
The company grew from 10 people a couple years ago, to 83 now
There are no plans to build for other companies right now

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