The Beginning

 

All stories have a beginning, and this one starts on a paradise island. I was reading a book about this Musk guy. As I hate to admit it I was extremely impressed, and inspired. This guy was following his passion/vision, entering a space industry dominated by governments and privileged giants. And he seems to make it.

I was in a position with means, but no professional purpose. After a somewhat successful entrepreneurial endeavour, and a few more successful investments, I was again searching for passion in profession. Gaming and space were passions from way back when.

I had always thought it would be gaming, space being out of reach. But again, this Musk guy seemed to tell the world differently.

So where would I fit in? Shooting up things into space still felt very resource demanding. Besides, others seemed to be getting that part right. What about flying in space? Exploring space?

What if one could make stuff in space, for space, instead of bringing everything up from below?

______________________________________________

______________________________________________

Illustration of the asteroid move “around” the Earth.

The Research

 

Well, choking the islands internet access point, I found out that I hardly was the first one with these ideas, however, it seemed like very few were actually flying. It felt like many projects were so grand in scale they got stuck back here.

With that in mind, I felt a clear focus and purpose. Let’s fly in space, let’s explore it, just for the purpose of exploration itself.

The Internet, what a glorious machine! What used to take years to research is now under ones fingertips, as long as one have the right questions.

Where to go? The Moon? Well, have we not been there before? An asteroid? There are some 15,000 near earth asteroids to pick from, however even though they pass “close” to Earth, they then continue their travel around the sun, away from Earth, to return in 10-20-30 years.

All of them but one.

9 months earlier (at the time of my research) an asteroid circling the earth had been discovered. Well it actually goes around the sun, but in a way so it circles the earth. It has a diameter of 40-120 meters, it’s just probably a big rock. But no one knows. It never ventures further away from Earth than 56 – 89 times the distance to the moon.

I had found the target.

 

_____________________

_____________________

Illustration of the asteroid move “around” the Earth.

The Research

 

Well, choking the islands internet access point, I found out that I hardly was the first one with these ideas, however, it seemed like very few were actually flying. It felt like many projects were so grand in scale they got stuck back here.

With that in mind, I felt a clear focus and purpose. Let’s fly in space, let’s explore it, just for the purpose of exploration itself.

The Internet, what a glorious machine! What used to take years to research is now under ones fingertips, as long as one have the right questions.

Where to go? The Moon? Well, have we not been there before? An asteroid? There are some 15,000 near earth asteroids to pick from, however even though they pass “close” to Earth, they then continue their travel around the sun, away from Earth, to return in 10-20-30 years.

All of them but one.

9 months earlier (at the time of my research) an asteroid circling the earth had been discovered. Well it actually goes around the sun, but in a way so it circles the earth. It has a diameter of 40-120 meters, it’s just probably a big rock. But no one knows. It never ventures further away from Earth than 56 – 89 times the distance to the moon.

I had found the target.

 

I become We

 

 

Hitting home, hitting the dark, snowy soil of Stockholm, Sweden, I started e-mailing and ringing people. Everyone I could find. A lot of them, from researchers, propulsion manufacturers, space industry people, answered my calls, invited me to meetings and introduced me to the space community in Sweden. As it turns out there are a lot of geniuses and enthusiasts up here in our small country.

I met them, told them about my idea, of my passion for space and that my research (very much scratching the surface I realise at the writing of this) seemed to add up.

As it turned out, no one tried to stop me. Giving me pointers, giving advice and participation – yes. But not stop me. I had become We. Emil, Christer, Sven, Peter, Anna, and Jan-Erik all joined in the ambition and I best call them the Advisors.

One of their first pointers was to get some real analysis done beyond my ankle deep internet knowledge. So, SSC and OHB, two Swedish space companies readily had Petrus, Milan and Robin help out with communication-, mission-, radiation- and system-analysis.

So now we had an operational team as well, things were shaping up.

______________________________________________

______________________________________________

The logos of the initial advisers organizations. The organisations themselves were not partners in the project at this time, it was the enthusiasm of the individuals.

I become We

_____________________

_____________________

The logos of the initial advisers organizations. The organisations themselves were not partners in the project at this time, it was the enthusiasm of the individuals.

Hitting home, hitting the dark, snowy soil of Stockholm, Sweden, I started e-mailing and ringing people. Everyone I could find. A lot of them, from researchers, propulsion manufacturers, space industry people, answered my calls, invited me to meetings and introduced me to the space community in Sweden. As it turns out there are a lot of geniuses and enthusiasts up here in our small country.

I met them, told them about my idea, of my passion for space and that my research (very much scratching the surface I realise at the writing of this) seemed to add up.

As it turned out, no one tried to stop me. Giving me pointers, giving advice and participation – yes. But not stop me. I had become We. Emil, Christer, Sven, Peter, Anna, and Jan-Erik all joined in the ambition and I best call them the Advisors.

One of their first pointers was to get some real analysis done beyond my ankle deep internet knowledge. So, SSC and OHB, two Swedish space companies readily had Petrus, Milan and Robin help out with communication-, mission-, radiation- and system-analysis.

So now we had an operational team as well, things were shaping up.

______________________________________________

______________________________________________

Illustration of SMART-1 going to the Moon, ESA’s first Lunar mission. Several of our team members were part of the project and Peter was project manager. It used electric propulsion to escape the Earth and for the trip, much like we will do. Our space craft will be similar, but around 20 times smaller.

Space craft shaping up too

 

 

Pieces were falling into place. The decision was made, without any real analysis other than gut, to go for a 12 U CubeSat configuration. We liked the idea of cheap, and we liked the new companies emerging around the form factor.

First we had to understand if the pieces were there. It was clear propulsion was going to be an issue, or well it was not to be frank. We had run into this company the second week of the project who is making these FEEP arrays, and without understanding the luck at the time, propulsion was crossed of the list.

So it was time to break the rules, which reminds me I have not yet listed the rules:

 

  • Don’t get into the trench of developing customised components
  • Only work with the enthusiastic and positive. (that does not exclude realists. Many are of the opinion that realism and pessimism are the same, I beg to differ. There is a very nice brand of realists who acknowledge the difficulties and thrive on its challenge.)

Not very many rules, I am not so fond of rules. So, breaking the first, the thrusters had to be modified to match the patience/getting a realistic length of life of the mission.

Together with the propulsion company we came up with a working configuration. They started development and we bought the first prototype thruster, based on a few sketches on a napkin. In return for the trust we got the exclusive rights to sell it beyond GEO, beyond Atlas.

Other pieces fell in place and at the writing of these words only a few pieces of the puzzle are really missing. There are avenues to explore, all breaking the first rule again.

 

Space craft shaping up too

 

_____________________

_____________________

Illustration of SMART-1 going to the Moon, ESA’s first Lunar mission. Several of our team members were part of the project and Peter was project manager. It used electric propulsion to escape the Earth and for the trip, much like we will do. Our space craft will be similar, but around 20 times smaller.

Pieces were falling into place. The decision was made, without any real analysis other than gut, to go for a 12 U CubeSat configuration. We liked the idea of cheap, and we liked the new companies emerging around the form factor.

First we had to understand if the pieces were there. It was clear propulsion was going to be an issue, or well it was not to be frank. We had run into this company the second week of the project who is making these FEEP arrays, and without understanding the luck at the time, propulsion was crossed of the list.

So it was time to break the rules, which reminds me I have not yet listed the rules:

 

  • Don’t get into the trench of developing customised components
  • Only work with the enthusiastic and positive. (that does not exclude realists. Many are of the opinion that realism and pessimism are the same, I beg to differ. There is a very nice brand of realists who acknowledge the difficulties and thrive on its challenge.)

Not very many rules, I am not so fond of rules. So, breaking the first, the thrusters had to be modified to match the patience/getting a realistic length of life of the mission.

Together with the propulsion company we came up with a working configuration. They started development and we bought the first prototype thruster, based on a few sketches on a napkin. In return for the trust we got the exclusive rights to sell it beyond GEO, beyond Atlas.

Other pieces fell in place and at the writing of these words only a few pieces of the puzzle are really missing. There are avenues to explore, all breaking the first rule again.

Realization

 

So, well the world was not so grand as I had led myself to believe by the reading of Mr Musk’s achievements. Access to space for small satellites was not (shockingly) dividing the price of a Falcon 9, by its payload and dada! you did not get the price per kg to orbit (as in my innocent dream).

I had not accounted for the 1-2 MUSD of administration/hassle fees, that emerging giant as well as the old, found appropriate to charge the small satellites.

We had no intentions of burning that kind of money on admin fees, so we needed a partner. Someone who could take us to space at cost, and in return get value out of our vision of exploration. Well, the SNSB (Swedish National Space Board) was very enthusiastic about the project, so the question of cooperation first went closest to home, ESA.

ESA, it turned out had no piggyback options beyond LEO, and changing that would take time. So SNSB made introductions to NASA and CNSA (Chinese National Space Administration).

At the time of writing we feel confident that we will find a partner sharing our vision, willing to take us to space, just for the story we create – just for the sake of exploration itself.

Well, that was the background, to follow the present, see our story.

 

______________________________________________

______________________________________________

We don’t want to put in another launch picture so uses this to illustrate how the spacecraft will escape earth. It basically will spin, spin, and spin around the Earth for 9 months.

Realization

 

_____________________

_____________________

We don’t want to put in another launch picture so uses this to illustrate how the spacecraft will escape earth. It basically will spin, spin, and spin around the Earth for 9 months.

 

So, well the world was not so grand as I had led myself to believe by the reading of Mr Musk’s achievements. Access to space for small satellites was not (shockingly) dividing the price of a Falcon 9, by its payload and dada! you did not get the price per kg to orbit (as in my innocent dream).

I had not accounted for the 1-2 MUSD of administration/hassle fees, that emerging giant as well as the old, found appropriate to charge the small satellites.

We had no intentions of burning that kind of money on admin fees, so we needed a partner. Someone who could take us to space at cost, and in return get value out of our vision of exploration. Well, the SNSB (Swedish National Space Board) was very enthusiastic about the project, so the question of cooperation first went closest to home, ESA.

ESA, it turned out had no piggyback options beyond LEO, and changing that would take time. So SNSB made introductions to NASA and CNSA (Chinese National Space Administration).

At the time of writing we feel confident that we will find a partner sharing our vision, willing to take us to space, just for the story we create – just for the sake of exploration itself.

Well, that was the background, to follow the present, see our story.

 

RSS
Follow by Email