We’ve spent the past 9 months getting a group of engineers together and preparing the high level rocket and spacecraft design, and we now need your help to get started building this awesome machine.
Firstly there’s the adventure of doing something amazingly challenging and difficult on a small but realistic budget.
By rethinking the parameters of space travel, we’re trying to make access to space cheap and accessible for the average person.
You also have the opportunity to be part of a project that could change the way people think about space access, making it more likely that our children and grand-children have a chance to visit other planets.
And while it is unlikely any of us will travel to the Moon or Mars in our lifetimes, we can send a little piece of our lives into the wider universe, and be sure that it will exist, somewhere out there in the vacuum of space, for infinity. That’s the primary challenge of Moonspike.
A typical space project will be quite secretive. We’re going to be almost the exact opposite.
Whatever happens, good or bad, we’re going to be open about it, through blogs, videos, and interviews. Instead of hiding behind a wall, we’ll let you see exactly where your support is going on a very regular basis.
While there are probably thousands of people on the planet who have theoretical knowledge of what it takes to build rockets, very few have hands-on experience of building and launching large-scale rocket vehicles.
But the team we have gathered have both professional training with organizations like NASA and hands-on experience building rockets at Copenhagen Suborbitals, a private team of amateur rocket builders who designed and built several very successful rockets on a shoestring budget during the past 7 years.
The vehicles this team have designed and launched include the 9.3m tall, liquid-fueled HEAT-1X, and the actively guided 5.3m Sapphire rocket.
Why one gram? When we thought about access to space and what makes it difficult, we know that it is the size of the payload that drives complexity. If you can get the payload mass to be very small, the rocket becomes smaller and so does the supporting infrastructure.
Thanks to the wonders of digital data, even 1 gram allows us to carry some valuable cargo by transporting the hopes and dreams of millions of people. Because 1 gram allows us to send terabytes of data to the moon, in a flash data memory vault that is protected from cosmic rays and soft errors.
50 years ago sending rockets to the Moon was a genuinely amazing thing. The glory and power of the incredible Saturn V rocket ascending from the launch pad with 3 tiny, courageous human astronauts on board inspired and awed a generation of kids.
When we were kids, there was a wondrous awe about space voyages, something that has been missing from the modern era. We want to get back to that feeling, of just doing this thing for the sheer joy of watching it climb into the sky and hopefully, eventually, land on the Moon.
Whether we succeed or fail, this project is intended to be a fascinating, awe-inspiring adventure for all participants, and that includes our supporters.
One advantage we have as a small operation working outside the confines of the state-supported space industry is clockspeed.
Most space project take decade or more to come to fruition. We’re in a very fortunate position; because of our past experience and hands-on approach, we can start building and testing our spacecraft designs within months. And as stated before, we’ll keep you fully informed as we progress.
Many space projects are very ambitious, with vast budget requirements. This is typically driven by trying to launch people or enormous spacecraft with extraordinary goals, and need billions of dollars.
We’ve figured out a way to make a real space mission possible on a reasonable budget by focusing on a relatively simple and highly focused goal – just get something small to the Moon.
We think this will allow us to achieve real results. We know that we will need to raise more money the course of the project, and this Kickstarter helps us get started.
When we thought about what it is we are trying to do, we figure it is more of an engineering task than anything else.
Most of the technology is well documented and understood today; our challenge is making that work with a small team and a micro budget instead of NASA’s billions.
Mostly it’s about finding smart solutions to classic engineering issues, and that’s why the pragmatic, hands-on experience of the team is crucial.
It sounds slightly odd, considering we have literally set our sights on the Moon, but the really great thing about this project is that in term of space projects we have actually set ourselves a realistic goal, and with hard work and a fair wind we have a chance of actually making it.
We’ve done a lot of homework. We’ve looked at a wide range of launch sites, from Iceland to New Zealand and Kenya. We’ve factored in flexibility in case we are forced to change plans along the way. We’ve already talked to suppliers of key components and understood major costs. We know which components are going to be the biggest struggle to develop and produce. We’ve talked to space agencies about licensing and insurers about insurance. We’ve looked at national and international space laws.
While there are still major technical challenges for a small team to overcome, the underlying technology we will use has been understood for decades, and to some degree is actually commonplace. With your support and backing, we think we might just be able to do it.
One key aspect that makes Moonspike truly unique and unusual is the track record of the engineering team in designing and building space rockets.
Almost all of our team come from key roles within the Copenhagen Suborbitals project, which has been one of the most successful and widely regarded amateur space projects ever – in fact collectively the Copenhagen Suborbitals team won a prestigious Breitling FAO medal for their extraordinary work on a miniscule budget. Those guys are awesome.
Moonspike is going to continue that heritage, with a budget that gives the team an opportunity to build equally innovative and adventurous space hardware to professional standards.
Some friendly backers already demonstrated their belief in the team, offering money on the strength of an email and an idea. And now we have developed those ideas to the next stage, we hope you will support us too.
As we said above in the transparency section, we want to be very open about what we are doing on this project, and this starts today.
We’ve been working hard to develop our rocket and space-craft designs over the past few months and today we are opening up our feasibility study document to the public for you to review the design and understand the considerations we have worked though in the past months.
You can download the complete feasibility study document to review the mission, technology and design at moonspike.com.
We invite you to download these technical specifications today and check our calculations.
We hope you understand that we have made many design decisions and trade-offs to get to this initial design, which has a very specific purpose, so it’s unlikely we will change the design significantly unless we have made some fundamentally erroneous calculations.
Naturally if you spot any mistakes or issues we would be happy to hear from you.
Basically we will use your support to get this thing off the ground, literally.
Until now we have spent about 9 months preparing. We raised some seed money to get this far, and now we need the Kickstarter community backing to get us up and running, to the point that we can test some of the most critical sub-systems like turbo pumps and navigation systems, and fire our first engines.
The main goal of this funding will be to get our factory set up, install the core members of staff, and start designing, developing, building and buying components to start actually making the rocketship.
Rent a rocket factory
We have already scoped out a candidate for our premises, and we will sign up for a 1-2 year lease with the one that seems to be the best fit it funded.
Equip the workshops
Once the factory is available we will equip it with all the basic machines we need to start producing rockets and spacecraft – lathes, CNC machines, drills, welding tools etc.
Buy materials and components
A large percentage of the money we raise through Kickstarter will go directly into buying materials and components needed to design, develop and actually build the rocket.
We need a focused, dedicated team working on this project. So we want you to know transparently that some of the money will go towards paying staff (and income taxes).
Once we have made initial purchases of equipment and materials, most cost are the basic running costs of a small rocket factory – electricity, internet, rocket fuel, liquid oxygen etc. With the money you generously provide we expect to be able to start taking this project 100% seriously and build some amazing machines. In parallel your support gives us a cash runway to generate the next round of funding from other sources.
Kickstarter is a going to get us off to a great start, and we’re also working on many other avenues of funding to ensure we can fulfil our promises to you and get your data, pictures, movies, stories onto the Moon.
We’re ready to get going – in fact some of our team members have already started work, in the expectation that Kickstarter supporters will be right behind us.
We have spent the past 9 months figuring out if this was actually possible and the numbers all check out.
The only component we are missing is your participation and help. By the end of 2015 we hope to have the rocket factory up and running, and by late next year we want to be able to start firing test engines.
We’d love to have you all along for the ride, and ultimately transport your data to the Moon.
We’re going back to the Moon. Why not join the team today?
Photo credits: NASA, Copenhagen Suborbitals