Saturday, April 14, 2012

Space Access '12: Tim Pickens - Rocket City Space Pioneers (GLXP)

Tim overviewed the RCSP team member companies. Then he presented their concept of operations. They would launch on a Falcon 9 rocket, and use an ESPA ring to deliver several secondary payloads to GTI and LLO, allowing them to make some money. It seemed like it would save customers 50% compared to other ways to reach their orbits, but they aren't getting those customers. They want to learn while doing this project, so they built lunar lander hardware for MSFC. They made hdrogen peroxide/kerosene "green" engine. Tim showed an ILDD test firing. STEM and social media ar important to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Significant sponsors require having a following so they are trying to boost intest For example, they made a free Ipad game. They figured there would be science and robotic precursor missions to the Moon, but that's not happening. With ride shares, they would get to about break-even even if they didn't get to the Moon. They are running short on time with the GLXP schedule. They already spent lots of resources on marketing, modeling, etc. Sponsorship opportunities are limited. The GLXP is not American Idol, the NFL, etc. They need to get away from the current model. They need to make it fun, mainstream, and relevant to lots of people. They could become a secondary payload to save money on the mission. What about the business model? That was rideshare, so that would go away with such a switch. They could team up with another team. They don't want to just let the project hang around on life support. With sponsors, they got lots of value in software tools, but hard cash is hard to come by. This is a long shot for sponsors because they have to actually get to the Moon to get big results for the sponsors.

Why was there a problem with GTO ride shares? The customers didn't know who they would be sharing a ride with, or if they would show up at all. They don't want to be left without a ride because of that. They are also used to working with current vendors.