Category Archives: Mach 30 Updates

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

Mach 30 At the Open Hardware Summit

Mach 30 at the Open Hardware Summit

This is a bit late, but I still wanted to share what went down at this year’s Open Hardware Summit. I was excited to be part of the event because it was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and share what’s been going on with Mach 30.

The key to “open source hardware for all” is high-quality open source engineering tools.

This message has been one of the key themes of Mach 30’s work in 2015.  Our technical projects have been shaped by this value, Jeremy has been connecting with a group from MIT to explore open source CAD, and I have been talking about this value on our blog and at the summit (check out the Open Hardware Summit presentation in the video below or in the slides on Google Docs).

At Mach 30, we use open source tools for all our projects. This is because we want to give everyone the ability to take part if they have the time and inclination to do so, and not be restricted by the tools they don’t have.

One example of such a tool is CadQuery, a Python-based parametric CAD language, which is actually inspired by JQuery. Some of the reasons we chose to use it over other open source tools: it’s easy to use, it has a powerful API, and it has an active development community. We like it so much, and we think it’s so useful, that we are actively contributing to the project.

Without high-quality open source engineering tools, we limit participation in Mach 30 projects to individuals and groups with access to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in proprietary engineering tools. Our mission of hastening humanity’s advancement into a spacefaring civilization is too important and too big to put these kinds of limits on participation.

That said, please join us in developing and supporting high quality open source engineering projects like the ones below:

If you want to learn more about our cold gas thruster, check out the Yavin Thruster project on Open Design Engine.

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Mach 30 Reports Hangout for May 2015

What was Mach 30 up to over the past month? Find out with the May 2015 Reports Hangout.  You may be familiar with the (not so) new round table discussion format where volunteers discuss current events in space, making, and open source hardware.

This month, we reminded everyone why there was no Report’s Hangout in April and mention a few topics that we would have covered if there was: the 2014 Mach 30 Annual Report, Mach 30’s plan for the remainder of 2015, and introduction of the Yavin Cold Gas Thruster & the Apogee 2 Event.  Then we dove right into all of the current events regarding rocket, launch, and space-related events.  Finally, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope in a very Maker-y way…  Check it out the video below to see how!

Many of these topics from this month will have periodic updates.  Naturally they will be covered in the new and improved monthly reports hangouts at Mach 30, so subscribe to our YouTube channel to STAY TUNED!

Hot off the presses: The Mach 30 2014 Annual Report

We are proud to announce the publication of Mach 30’s 2014 Annual Report. This publication is Mach 30’s first annual report.  It highlights all the great stories from last year. Publishing this report is an important step for the organization because it signals a new level of maturity and demonstrates our continued commitment to our our open source values.

While it’s not a legal requirement, most established nonprofits publish annual reports to share their accomplishments, successes, works in progress, and project close-outs while setting the stage for the future plans and operations. As Mach 30 matures, we want to follow this best practice. More importantly, documenting our work is at the core of Mach 30’s values including transparency and the use of open source methods, even at this organizational level.

This report covers our progress in open source spaceflight hardware, our first conference, our contributions to the Open Source Hardware movement, and looks forward to the work coming in 2015. 2014 was a momentous year full of firsts, and this first annual report is one more milestone along our journey. We look forward to many more to come.

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Mach 30 Update for March 2015

This post was co-authored by Mach 30 volunteer Aaron Harper.

The Mach 30 Reports Hangouts experiments have continued in February and March.  Our new format is a round table discussion of current events in space, making, and open source hardware, with a focus on events happening at Mach 30.  This new format is paying off and the result is this month’s reports hangout is well worth the time required to watch.

This month, we have a report on Alicia Gibb’s book Building Open Source Hardware in which some Mach 30 members and projects are featured. We had some HUGE news in the form of contributions to open source design software and great strides on simplifying export control compliance for open hardware projects.  Check it out below.

For those that prefer a written update on the status of Mach 30 projects, you can still check out the March Reports page on Google Drive.  Many of these topics from this month will have periodic updates.  Naturally they will be covered in the new and improved monthly reports hangouts at Mach 30, so STAY TUNED!