Some thoughts on Strategic Planning for 2011

As we near the fourth quarter, my thoughts have started to turn to planning for next year.  2010 has been, and continues to be, a year focused on organizational/information technology infrastructure.  There has been good progress in these areas, enough that I would like to see Mach 30 use 2011 to begin working on hardware projects, specifically the very small scale engineering projects I have started to call “kites”.  This idea has started to gel as the Incorporation Task Force works to complete the IRS 1023 application for 501(c)3 status.

The 2011 budget forecast we have prepared for the 1023 includes funding for three Tier 1 kites, which begs the question, what kind of projects might those be, and how will we go about building and flying them.  Here are some random thoughts on those questions.

  • Given the need for both skill in practical rocketry and the importance of safety, all crew working on Mach 30 kites should be NAR certified.  The exact level required will depend on the scale of the current project.
  • The three kites for 2010 should focus on building organizational experience with tools and technologies instead of on testing configuration options for RLVs.  Example tools/technologies to work with include:
    • Side mounted recovery system for horizontal landings
    • Stored telemetry collection and recovery
    • Down linked telemetry collection
    • Remotely piloted gliding operations after burnout
    • Rehearse ground and flight operations
    • Using reusable motors in place of expendable motors

One more question that bears looking at is how do we know when we have learned enough from a given kite, and how do we know we are ready to move to the next tier of kites?

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