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Hey All

Posted by: OSD - Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:00 am
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Post Hey All   Posted on: Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:00 am
Hey guys, new to the forum, thought Id be polite and introduce myself.
My name is Christian, and Im from Oz.
Been a space nut for a while, as well as working on designing a home built helo. I must say that I thought after Rutan won the Xprize that interest in space would die off again, however it seems to have gone the other way, perhaps because its not just nuts talking about how great it will be, now theres actual hardware.
With the current enthousiasm, and backers willing to put captial behind ideas, Ive been thinking about forming an Aus team for the Xprize Cup.
I was excited about the Bigalow prize, but with the current restrictions, that may not be feisable.
Anyway hope all are well, and looking forward to some interesting discussions.


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Post Re: Hey All   Posted on: Wed Nov 10, 2004 11:15 am
OSD wrote:
I was excited about the Bigalow prize, but with the current restrictions, that may not be feisable.

There's a long line of folks who think the Bigalow prize is not feasible. I haven't seen the other line, although I suspect it is very short.

So ... what is your team going to do instead? Build a single stage kangaroo-to-orbit? One giant leap and all that, eh mate?

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 10, 2004 11:42 pm
Come on mate, everyone know that roos can only go sub orbital :D

I guess after being frustrated with the current space situation in Aus I was thinking about trying to get something going. No disrespect to the AusRoc guys, they're doing the best they can, but their profile over here is pretty low.
Now that scaled has proved that it can be done, I think it will make it easier for those with a plan to seek out funding, VC guys are more likely to be interested, so reliance on angels wont be so high.
I have spoken with a few investors, and most seem fairly interested, what it comes down to is whether or not I want to blow my first startup on this. I think it is viable, I just need to do some more calcs. Ive got 2 other start ups on the board at the moment, so I dont want to commit to this just yet.
What concerns me tha most, is even with the X Prize Cup, that getting the hardware over to the US could be a major problem, especially since 9/11. I have a friend studying in Montana right now, and its illegal for him to even pick up a rocket motor, let alone fly one.
Even if 4 of the current teams in the Xprize go on to build sub-orbital vehicles which can take passenges, I still think that there would be enough room for 3-4 more before there would be a glut of supply, and certainly having one based in the Southern Hemisphere couldnt hurt.
Its not so much whether my idea would work or not, its whether it would be viable.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:39 am
Welcome, OSD, and good luck. ... Any country that has a beverage like Foster's should have no trouble making good rocket fuel. :D

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 4:24 am
An Oz team for the X prize cup aye, how about making it a Trans Tasman effort! you never know what we might have to offer here in NZ which could help you.
Wouldn't be such a bad idea in a way, might take some of the financial worries away from you and cement the aus/nz relationship even more, and would be good publicity for both our nations around the world especially being from the southern Hemisphere.
But when it comes to rugby we will still have our differences!

Just a thought, I'm sure there would be alot of interested folk.

Iain


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 10:19 am
OSD wrote:
Come on mate, everyone know that roos can only go sub orbital :D

too right ... too right ... my mistake :wink:

OSD wrote:
I guess after being frustrated with the current space situation in Aus I was thinking about trying to get something going. No disrespect to the AusRoc guys, they're doing the best they can, but their profile over here is pretty low.

I hadn't heard of this one before, so I went and had a look at their webpage ... LINK HERE ... not too flash but it's no dog's breakfast either. Can you tell us how or why the AusRoc profile has sunk?

OSD wrote:
I have spoken with a few investors, and most seem fairly interested, what it comes down to is whether or not I want to blow my first startup on this. I think it is viable, I just need to do some more calcs. Ive got 2 other start ups on the board at the moment, so I dont want to commit to this just yet.

I recommend you begin in a way similar to Brian Feeney ... come up with a plausible model and raise the profile as high as possible to attract big publicity-hunting contributors ... except instead of just waving around your hands get down to business and make/test actual hardware (as scaled did) and it would be very nice if you kept interested parties up to date (as armadillo does).

I like very much the idea of TheFlyingKiwi ... I think a trans-Tasman effort would be a very good thing, even if it only involved joint sponsorships (I bet a kiwi jetboat tour company would like to see its name splashed across a rocketship, or even one of those bungy guys).

Good luck mate, flash no pans.

DKH

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Last edited by Dr_Keith_H on Thu Nov 11, 2004 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 10:50 am
Thanx guys.

The Trans Tasman idea is a good one, and something that I had already been thinking about. However I have to make sure that I dont put the cart before the horse.
Funnily enough for this project its not the technical difficulty, its the finance thats the killer. Working a way with which to convince a VC that its worth sinking money into a sub orbital craft is worth while can e a very hard thing to do.
Ensuring enough start up money is really the key to this. Just look at Rutan, he had all the money he needed from go to woe. Compare that with the Roton who were trying to raise enough capital to fly while they were building. Once the investors lost confidence in the market, they were done.
One thing is certain though, while Rutan has made it easier in some ways, he has also made it harder. There will be pleanty to argue that he has the market sown up, explaining that this isnt the case will be hard.
The biggest problem is that no one really knows what the space tourism market is actually worth. To do the market research could set you back half a mil alone. Without these hard figures all guestimation, and for some reason that make investors nervous :?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 11:12 am
Dr K, I must have posted as you did.
Funny you mentioned Mr Feeney, I was checking out his site.
Ive been scouring the net looking especially at the projects that didnt make it, those who I think wont make it and those who have made it.
It all hinges on money. The problem is if you start going on the news and talking about all the benefits of space travel, it makes you look like an space nut, and while I am, it doesnt help when sitting down with a bunch of guys when youre trying to ask them for money.
What Im thinking at this stage is looking at doing a reusable sounding rocket, on a budget and time frame. Assuming that it is on time and to budget, you have demonstrated ability to the investors, and gained valuable experience as a company. There is also a market for micro sats which could be launched,(100kg payload, 2500kg GLOW SSTSO) which would atleast give your company, some cash flow. IMHO this will greatly enhance your ability to fund further development orbital/suborbital.

Ive been doing alot of research on the the Roton lately, interestingly there seems to be about 4 different views on why they went bust. Lack of funds, lack of controlability during hypersonic flight, bottom fell out of the market, to management top heavy. Only the guys running the show really know the score, but again Im pretty sure it was the financial more than the technical that bought them undone.
One thing that struck me with the roton was they chose to do an ATV first. While this gives people something to look at, you have to question whether they would have been better off starting with the propulsion first. Its easy with hind site, and I understand its nice to have something tangable for people to look at. But surely a rocket motor would have been the better choice, ala Armadilo.

Re AusRoc, AFIK they have never really had a big profile over here. Its only those who are interested who find out. Considering we were the 3rd country to launch an indigenous satellite, I find it remarkable that every time we have a chance to do something the Gov just lets it slip by. Even with Kistler signing on to use Woomera, there was no stipulation that they need to use any Aus people. When guys doing the SCRAM jet needed funding it came from overseas, and not here. A technology which was a world first, and done for a fraction of the cost of the US effort, doesnt even register with our gov. Be break a world record in sport, and your funded for life. A sporting nation, really pays the bills (insert smiley vomiting here).
Sorry End Rant.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:11 pm
I dunno, my surface-skimming view of it all suggests that in order to succeed in delivering even a sub-orbital tourist operation then time and money can't be too big of an issue. Sounds trite as hell ... but then I'm looking at Scaled and Armadillo who unlike everybody else in the x-prize competition went at it with lots of both of those things (Scaled had a big head start and Armadillo went at it keeping the time option way open).

$£€

Gads, look at it like this ... Scaled had an angel investor with US$20 million to throw at it (which helped deal with the time constraint) ... Armadillo has a very rich hands on enthusiast who seems to have all the time in the world (particularly since the xprize is won) plus the nouce to learn how to get things in the air.

If you need to ask for hard cash from someone else there's usually an important time component attached to that. I think that must make it extremely difficult for brand new start-ups to jump straight into the "tourists-to-space" business.

If you want to get in this game then start small, reusable sounding rockets are sounding good to me. Build credibility one tiny step at a time. Husband your resources and your supporters. Don't bother entering time-delimited prize-oriented competitions. Aim for a niche market, then expand the niche. Don't try to fight big operations like Branson/Rutan head-on, there's no percentage in that. Look at Branson's early business model ... try lots of things in quick succession, drive like hell on what works and drop the rest like nuclear potatoes.

Hell, even if you made a single component important to the industry ... and made it recognisably better and cheaper than anyone else ... that would be a magnificent contribution and you would still have a genuine piece of that pie in the sky.

If Australia looks like a not so preferable place to do it, then take your business elsewhere, national pride is great ... but the pay and opportunity it offers is lousy.

There is no quick step in the orbital tourism waltz.

DKH (my mouth runneth over, good thing this is in the Cafe)

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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:22 am
Well, I think my chances of finding an angel investor, are about the same as the Shuttle ever being a cheap way into space. :D
Which means proper business plans and all the rest.
Ive been researching MicroSat launches, and its pretty hard to find any hard data. Infact if anyone knows some resources for these on the net, payload size, orbit, use, ect.... I would realy appreciate a pointer in the right direction. As far as cost goes, $10-15milUS seems to be the going rate. So if you could come in under that by a couple of mil you would probably find a market. One paper I found said that if you could lower the cost to under 5mil, then you would generate alot more launches, as right now, most launch systems are out of the budgets of alot of institutions.
The big thing is ROI, which is usually expected to be within 5 years. IMHO this is what cripples many companies, along with overly optimistic development times.
This is why I thought about the smaller launches. Theres a market, and it would be a shorter development time (5years doesnt sound to bad), and generating cashflow sooner will help to move onto other projects. Rutans biggest achievement, for me, is that he has consistantly developed products which meet the requirements on time, and on budget.
If you can get a rep for that, it should be much easier to get going.
I also agree with you with regards to deveopling products which can be sold to other companies. Seeing as its a growing industry, off the shelf components will be sout after by many.
Current estimates on the Sub-Orbital tourist market puts the requirement at around 30-50 ships for a price of $50-100,000 per head. Higher demand for a lower cost. All things being equal, I beleive that there is a window of around 10 years for sart up companies to take advantage of this demand. After that the companies that are already up and running will have tha ability to shut out the competition.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 13, 2004 7:33 am
Christian

You going the wrong direction. Your idea is great but never built a rocket in Australia. They gonna have government watch over you. If your rocket explode with debris and didn't reach over obit to win X-Prize. You gonna have to pay huge civil penalities. They'll confiscate your rocket, your bank account, and your passport. You can't run and hide or sue X-Prize organization. They'll cut your citizenship off. If you lucky to reach Christmas Island or Antarctica quicky that won't be a problem. Royal Australian Navy can find you.


About Aussie Government regulation:
They'll put huge investigation. You gonna have massmedia walking in courtroom and getting chain. Even U.N won't help you get out that crime. Crime codes are: terrorizing space; exploding; debris on Aussie Soil; Space Terrorism; Public Stunt; destorying property; destorying australia crops; failure; building weapon mass destruction to conquear aussie party; Embrassing to Commonwealth of Australia.


Aussie Team. Don't do it! leave Australia government & kangaroos alone, it's great country. I love Australia!!! OSD you sound like hero but don't do it. I don't have boat to Christmas Island. :?


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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 13, 2004 9:20 am
Splinter, I confess that I havent flown a rocket since 9/11, but Im not sure the law has changed that much.
If I can do it, it will be by the book. If I have the money and I cant get permission in Aus, I'll go else where.
At the end of the day there is still a registered rocket range at Woomera, and Kistler is supposed to be operating from there when they are up and running. Theres a consortium running out of Christmas Island (Russian I think).
Plus my rockets dont blow up :D


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 15, 2004 9:26 am
I know Sigurd checked to see if Splinter and Shuttlelabs were the same guy ... and apparantly they're not. But their posts are creepily similar.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 15, 2004 7:14 pm
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
I know Sigurd checked to see if Splinter and Shuttlelabs were the same guy ... and apparantly they're not. But their posts are creepily similar.

DKH


Exactly ... the cadence, misuage, and illogical scattergun blasts of tortured syntax seem to match. Hard to imagine two personages of their ilk. :D Perhaps they are cousins.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:12 pm
author wrote:
...the cadence, misuage, and illogical scattergun blasts of tortured syntax...


Beautiful, man, just beautiful. Brings tears to me widdy eyes.

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