Author Archives: Ingrid Velasquez

Mach 30 Annual Report for 2016 cover

Hot Off the Presses: Mach 30 Annual Report for 2015

We’re happy to announce that the Mach 30 Annual Report for 2015 is here! Although this is our second publication, it tells the story of a year of firsts in several areas: we used agile methods to manage the Mach 30 engineering team, unified the development of open source hardware and open source engineering tools, and really pushed outreach and marketing to promote our vision.

Our vice president Greg Moran mentions in his opening message that 2015 was a “rebuilding year,” having suffered from having too many projects and too few volunteers to carry them out. We’re very proud of 2015 — as you’ll see in this report, it’s proof that not only can we recover from setbacks, it’s also proof that we’ve learned along the way and have developed into a stronger, smarter team.

Publishing last year’s report was a huge milestone for Mach 30, because it signalled a new level of maturity. This report is a continuing commitment to, and more proof of, our transparent accountability.

With the 2015 Annual Report, we hope to cement our commitment to open source practices in all aspects of our organization, not just our technical projects. In other words, we’re sharing our story with you in the hopes of convincing you to join our cause.

We look forward to sharing many more annual reports. Happy reading!

Download the Mach 30 Annual Report for 2015.

Mach 30 Annual Report for 2016 cover

You can also read about our plans for this year, the biggest priority of which is developing Ground Sphere. We just finished a sprint as of press time — we’ll tell you all about it soon. Stay tuned!

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

You may have seen “Visions of the Future,” a series of posters that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released in February. It’s a gorgeous, futuristic-but-in-a-retro-kind-of-way set of 14 images that promote various spots in space as if they were travel destinations for everyone (which, by the way, is Mach 30’s ultimate goal). We’re giving away free prints of these, so if you want one, you should join our contest by signing up for our newsletter.

In one of the posters, you are urged to pack for “The Grand Tour.” This is a trip which can only happen once every 175 years, when Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune align. It was the route the Voyager 2 spacecraft took in 1977, where it revealed details about the outer planets.

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

In another illustration, you’re invited to witness the incredible light show on Jupiter. David Delgado, creative strategist at JPL, said that they took inspiration from one the of the lead scientists on the Juno mission (which is set to get to Jupiter in July.)

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

The Mars poster envisions a future in which humans have colonized the red planet, with a history that “would revere the robotic pioneers that came first.”

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

Don Clark, one of the designers, said that they wanted to capture the whimsy that old illustrated travel posters used to have, when photography was not yet very advanced. “That’s how we approached these posters, to capture that charm, optimism and hopefulness, and this whole idea of wanting to go on these trips.”

Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters Contest: Mach 30 is Giving Away Free NASA Posters

Mission accomplished, don’t you agree?

Anyway, the important question is this: do you want one of these NASA posters so you can hang it up on your bedroom or living room? (Or wherever you like to hang your posters — we don’t judge.) You’re in luck, because we’re giving away five prints!

All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter between now and April 15th. After that, we will randomly pick five subscribers who will get to choose the poster they want, which we will then print on 11×7 paper, and mail to them!

Bonus: you’ll get an extra entry when you share the contest on social media (one bonus entry per network).

Please note that as of now, we can only pick winners from subscribers who reside in the lower 48 states. Unfortunately, Mach 30 isn’t able to afford worldwide shipping at the moment. That said, we’d very much like it if you still subscribe to our newsletter even if you can’t win. Remember, every little thing goes a long way towards making open source spaceflight a reality!

Click here to join our mailing list. Good luck!

Learn more about Visions of the Future.

Mach 30's 2016 Annual Plan

Mach 30’s 2016 Annual Plan

Most of your New Year’s resolutions have probably faded into fond memory by now, so why not pick up a new one? We’re excited to share Mach 30’s 2016 Annual Plan because we’re constantly on the lookout for volunteers to help us make our dream of open source spaceflight come true. We may not have cookies (we’re not the Dark Side, and we don’t have the budget for it — yet), but we do have very cool plans ahead.

This year’s project list is divided into three categories: rocks, pebbles, and sand. Dr. Stephen R. Covey, entrepreneur and author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, tells a parable to explain this principle. Rocks are top priority, pebbles next, and sand last, the moral being that, “If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

The biggest priority on our list is developing Ground Sphere. This is a small, portable satellite receiver that you can use to eavesd— erm, listen to voice communications from the International Space Station. We also want to look into the viability of developing Ground Sphere as a product that we could possibly sell, which is why after building the prototype, we want to demo it so we can gauge interest.

Other rocks include the board’s annual strategic planning retreat during Apogee 3 (Mach 30’s annual outreach event), and recruiting both board-level and non-technical volunteers. We’ve realized that the organization would be served well by having a diversity of talent.

Onto pebbles: we’re continuing marketing activities because we want to at least double our reach this year. You may have noticed that we’re publishing more content than before and that we’ve restarted our newsletter.

Also in the pebbles category are the actual Apogee 3 Public Outreach Event, plus acquiring D&O insurance by January 2017.

Lastly, we move on to our sand activities. We’re supporting the Open Source Hardware Association by either becoming a corp member or being a sponsor at the Open Hardware Summit this year. Also, we’re publishing the Mach 30 Annual Report for 2015.

We’ve also categorized the projects into large, medium, and small, depending on how much time, money, and manpower we need to complete them. Looking at it in this way helps us determine if we’re doing too much or not enough. More importantly, it helps us assess if we can do the things that we really need to do, what with our (current) lack of resources.

Ground Sphere development and planning for Apogee 3 are considered large, while recruiting, the Apogee 3 event itself, and publishing the annual report are medium. Lastly, marketing activities and the OSHWA sponsorship are small.

Another way that we’re grouping the projects is according to whether they’re administrative or mission. Administrative tasks involve taking care of and growing the organization (recruiting non-technical volunteers), while mission tasks are those that fall in line directly with our mission statement (developing Ground Sphere).

You’ll notice that two-thirds of our tasks this year are admin. That’s because we want to focus on growth right now so we can do more mission work in the future.

We’ve figured out some time ago that Mach 30 is relevant to three communities: makers, space enthusiasts, and open source hardware enthusiasts. The numbers on the chart are the product of a quick calculation of how activities would impact these communities. As you can see, we’re trying to make sure that our activities are equally interesting to all three groups.

Projects also fall into three major areas based on Mach 30’s IRS-approved non-profit mission. As explained by Mach 30 president J. Simmons, “OSHW means supporting the OSHW community (because a rising tide helps all ships, think things like open source cad software and Open Design Engine). Ed is for education and outreach (because more people need to understand about space), and OSSHW is open source spaceflight hardware (that being our main thing of course).”

Last but not the least, in keeping with our efforts to recruit more non-technical volunteers, we’re putting more effort into visiting incubators and idea places. We want artists, writers, photographers, marketers, and business-minded individuals to join and help our cause.

Part of why we’re doing this is so we have a document to guide us through the year. It also helps keep us accountable as a team. The other part of why we’re sharing this with you is because we hope some of you will get excited enough to want to join us!

Check out Mach 30’s 2016 Annual Plan in infographic form below. Click here if you’re interested in volunteering, or email us at

Mach 30's 2016 Annual Plan

Mach 30's 2016 Annual Plan Mach 30's 2016 Annual Plan Mach 30's 2016 Annual Plan