January 2019 Update
Our last update was October 1, and a lot has been happening since then.
We’ve been very busy preparing for exhibiting at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference, which was held in early January 2019 in Seattle.
We planned on showing two spacecraft models, one that was entirely made of 3D printed plastic, and one very similar to the flight model with a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) milled metal structure. Unfortunately due to the holidays, the metal version took much longer than expected to machine and to have a protective anodized coating applied. We do expect the metal parts to arrive by the end of January.
We did exhibit the 3D printed plastic version, and a picture of our booth is shown below.
The model was painted with aluminum paint, so it resembles metal. In the picture above, the front side shows two square antennas, one for GPS (on the green printed circuit board) and the gold colored one for a Globalstar radio. There is also a white rectangular plastic panel which insulates the internal optical bench from external temperature variations. The side of the spacecraft is open, to show the primary mirror in the top half of the spacecraft and the filter wheel in the bottom half. The Android tablet computer screen on the table behind the business cards was used to demonstrate the remote control of the filter wheel. Attendees could use it to move the filter wheel and select the twelve different filter positions. In the flight model, the spacecraft will control the filter wheel directly, but for this demo, the tablet is controlling the wheel via an app and Bluetooth wireless interface.
The model also shows the final configuration for the solar panels. The panel with the exposed solar cells is initially folded down to cover the aperture for the telescope. When in orbit, the panel flips up to allow the telescope to extend. The two sets of main solar panel wings are initially folded up into the bottom of the spacecraft, then unfold when in orbit.
We also presented attendees with our research grant program, where we will award free space telescope time in four different categories:
- Best professional researcher proposal
- Best amateur astronomer proposal
- Best proposal from a university student in a physics/astronomy program
- Best general public submission proposal, open to anyone with an interest in astronomy
More details on our research grant program are here: http://www.spacefab.us/request-for-proposals.html
We will be accepting research proposals up to February 28, 2019, and we will announce our space telescope grant winners by March 31, 2019.
Now that we are done with the AAS conference, we are preparing our business plan and presentations for discussions with venture capital companies. To assist us with writing and analyzing our business plan, we have added a business advisor, Christof Kern, who is currently CEO of Fibersat, a satellite communications company. While at Fibersat, he secured pre-launch orders of $495 million and government business orders of over $50 million for his company. We appreciate his deep background and experience in business development, strategy, and financial analysis for satellite companies.
We are very happy with our latest business plan, and we are now finalizing it and starting work on our Powerpoint presentations. We plan to raise enough funds to finish our first generation space telescope, the Waypoint, and launch it at the end of 2020, then build and launch additional Waypoint satellites for our space telescope constellation every twelve to eighteen months thereafter. And we are very excited about our second generation space telescope, the Viewpoint satellite. It will have comparable resolution to the best commercial Earth observation satellite in existence today, while being more than an order of magnitude less expensive.
We will be busy preparing for our next stage of fund raising for the next few months, so we may not be able to update you until April or May.