Long overdue update

It’s not always obvious (unless you read our meeting minutes), but Mach 30 projects are starting gain momentum.  Unfortunately, we are still better at doing the work than remembering to post about it.

We plan to get better about that, but for now this update will help.

Until this year, almost all of the work at Mach 30 has been implemented by members of the Board of Directors (which has so far floated between five and six people).   Relying on the board was necessary, because the work to date was about building the foundation of the organization.  We developed our organizational mission and vision.  We determined what types of projects we should work on, and prepared various forms (oh, the forms!) for things like incorporating the organization and applying for 501c3 status.

While there is still organizational work to do and big board-level challenges (**cough** ITAR) ahead of us, we are excited to have come far enough to start real work on our first open source spaceflight hardware projects.

Open Design Engine

Before we get to the metal-bending, we must mention our most visible non-hardware project:  Open Design Engine (or ODE for short).  ODE is a web portal for collaborating on and sharing open source hardware projects.  Mach 30 began work on ODE about a year ago, and after receiving positive feedback for the pre-alpha demo of ODE at the 2011 Open Hardware Summit last September, we held a KickStarter campaign to fund development of the public beta release. The KickStarter was fully funded, and since then, we have been working with Littlelines to get the new features developed, tested, and deployed.  I am happy to report that the features are basically complete, and that we anticipate launching the public beta at the end of the month, which means everyone will be eligible to sign up for an account on the site and to develop/share their own projects or participate in existing ones.

Hardware Projects

On the hardware front  we are currently pursuing two projects.  The Shepard Test Stand, and a high altitude balloon project (in partnership with Dayton Diode and Adler Planetarium).  The Shepard Test Stand was stalled for a while (mostly because of my other Mach 30 duties were preventing me from managing the project).  Fortunately, we have had a new volunteer, Jeremy Wright, join us at Mach 30 and he has taken the reigns of the Shepard Test Stand.  Since Jeremy has joined us, there has been a flurry of activity on the Shepard forums, and we have nearly completed our requirements analysis.  Look for more details on the Shepard front from Jeremy in an upcoming newsletter.

For the high altitude balloon project, our relationship with Adler and Dayton Diode means we should have plenty of volunteers, but it also means coordinating three groups of people to get things going.  The last time I was in contact with folks from Adler, they were nearly ready to start this project.  We are currently trying to schedule a joint kickoff meeting with all three groups in the very near future, with the first priority being to get a project up on Open Design Engine so we can be sure to document the project from day one.  I will be sure to post a link to the project page as soon as it is up.

Get Connected

If you are ready to join the Mach 30 team, we can’t wait to meet you!  There are two easy ways to get involved.

Weekly Hangout
The best way to get involved is to come hangout out with us on Thursday nights at 10:00 PM Eastern.  Each week we pick a Mach 30 topic or project and do some work on it via Google Hangout with whomever can join us.  Previous hangout activities have covered everything from developing a list of space events related to Mach 30 to share on an online calendar, to working on material to present at IgniteNM, to discussing how gamification can fit into Mach 30’s volunteer strategy.  If you are interested in joining us for a hangout, just add Mach 30 to your circles on Google+ and leave a comment on the next Hangout invitation.

Drawing Board
The second way  to get involved is the Mach 30 Drawing Board.  This new wiki  gives us a way to track project ideas related to advancing humanity into a spacefaring civilization.  The ideas range from the highly technical (developing open source vacuum chambers) to the artistic (creating a calendar to celebrate space achievements), so there is something for everyone.

The drawing board is an open forum, so consider this your personal invitation.  Stop by and help refine the various ideas which are posted on the site, contribute new project ideas, or take responsibility for getting one of the projects off the ground.  We can’t wait to see what you have to offer.

Whew!  That was a lot to cover in one post, and I’m sure I left out some salient details.  If you have questions, or want more information about a specific project, please let me know in the comments!

ad astra per civitatem

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