Category Archives: News

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!

June 2015 Reports Hangout

This month, we continue our new round table discussion about what’s going on with Mach 30, as well as Space, Open Source Hardware, and the Maker Community. Mach 30 positions itself in the middle of these 3 communities, and this month we definitely talked about all of them. There’s space news, open source hardware community developments, and of course details about our ongoing efforts to make mankind a spacefairing civilization.

One of the big topics is the Yavin cold gas thruster, Mach 30’s Open Source Hardware project focused around the development of a number of tools and technologies that will enable not just greater projects here at Mach 30, but also in the Maker and OSHW communities at large. Another big topic is our upcoming Apogee II conference, our second yearly conference were we engage with the community about what we’re doing, what our plans are, and the community’s input and participation in that, from Space Enthusiast to Maker to Open Source Hardware fan. One particular point of note is our plans for doing a bake off of user interface development tools for projects, which are designed specifically with the maker community in mind.

There’s plenty more, so check out the ~30 minute video for more!

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!

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.

ad astra per civitatem

2013 Recap

2013 was a great year of growth for Mach 30. We launched a new open source spaceflight hardware project, added great new volunteers to make even more projects possible, and fostered new partnerships in the fields of spaceflight and education. We’re looking forward to the opportunities 2014 is already promising, but before doing that we want to look back at where we’ve been.


Maureen Carruthers

Maureen Carruthers, who has been with Mach 30 since the beginning, retired from the board of directors this year. Maureen was instrumental in defining the organizational ethos that has helped bring Mach 30 to where it is today. Founding member, social media guru, organizational pioneer, these were a few of her day-to-day functions. Among the many projects she was involved in during her time as a board member were the organization our Open Design Engine Kickstarter, and many online events such as the Mach 30 Yuri’s Night party. We will miss Maureen’s contributions, but are very excited to see what she’s been doing in her new role with the National Robotics League.

Mach 30 Hangout

Mach 30 Google+ Hangout

Mach 30 runs on volunteers, starting at our board level. Several very active volunteers have come aboard this year, and have greatly increased the amount we can accomplish. Thanks to them, and the existing Mach 30 volunteers, for contributing your time, talent, and enthusiasm. Mach 30’s mission can not be accomplished without you. If you’re interested in volunteering with Mach 30, we’d love to hear from you. You can use the contact form to let us know a little about where you’d like to contribute. Not interested in hardware or engineering? No problem, Mach 30’s mission spans many disciplines, and we need people with diverse interests and backgrounds to get involved.

Export Control Task Force

During 2013, the Mach 30 community came to understand more fully just how challenging export control regulations are. For those unfamiliar with export controls, they are laws and regulations that prohibit the unauthorized exchange of information and technology that the U.S. government deems a threat to national security. Unfortunately, most things related to spaceflight fall into this category. What this means is that Mach 30 has some extra work to do on bridging the worlds of open source hardware and export controls. This is the reason for the Export Control Task Force. There are several dedicated volunteers who have elected to take on this not-so-glamorous work for the good of us all. Their research and the documents they create are published under a Creative Commons license, so you don’t have to start from scratch when working with export controls. You can find a more in-depth explanation of the task force here, and you can follow the oss-export-control Google group to keep up on the latest happenings.

Shepard Test Stand

Shepard Demo Sneak Peak

Shepard Demo Sneak Peak

Shepard is our model rocket motor test stand. It is designed to provide a safe first step into the world of rocket motor testing and analysis, with the goal of allowing students and makers to replicate the manufacturer thrust data for Estes motors. While Shepard was an active project before 2013, it saw tremendous progress in 2013. We are currently working on version 2.0, leading to a kit version that will hopefully be available sometime in the last half of 2014. Shepard has already been used for some educational and public outreach, with much more planned in 2014 as the kits become available.

Partnership with the Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC)

CCSSC's Own Shepard Test Stand

CCSSC’s Own Shepard Test Stand

We were very fortunate to connect with the team at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus, Georgia. Our Shepard test stand project fits in very well with an educational rocket propulsion unit they are developing. The idea is Mach 30 will provide test stand hardware while CCSSC provides educational curriculum for the test stand. This will allow educators and students to get hands-on experience with real rocket motor testing in a low risk environment. We have a blog post that talks about CCSSC’s success in building their own copy of Shepard from the documentation on Open Design Engine. They will use this copy when developing the curriculum.

Ground Station

Ground Sphere v0.1 Prototype

Ground Sphere v0.1 Prototype

Ground stations that can communicate with satellites and spacecraft in orbit are a critical piece of the human spaceflight technology puzzle. With the ever increasing interest in CubeSats, low cost ground stations that makers can build are becoming even more sought after. Community member Aaron Harper has been working on a series of omni-directional ground stations that makers can build in their garage and operate with just a single laptop computer. The most recent one of these designs is Ground Sphere, which is designed to work with 915 MHz CubeSats.

Partnership with Southern Stars (SkyCube)

It’s certainly no accident that our Ground Sphere ground station design is compatible with 915 MHz CubeSats. Through a serendipitous meeting and impromptu demo at the New Space conference, Southern Stars became a more recent partner of Mach 30’s and has a very interesting use for Ground Sphere. They Kickstarted a CubeSat named SkyCube that is scheduled to launch in January. SkyCube has a very interesting feature that will transmit the tweets from orbit that SkyCube backers have written. Ground Sphere is designed to give backers the opportunity to receive those tweets directly in their homes, schools, or makerspaces.

Conference Attendance

J. Simmons at New Space 2013

J. Simmons at New Space 2013

As always, there were many great conferences to attend in 2013. The Open Hardware Summit, NewSpace, and the Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam, just to name a few. We have write-ups for a couple of these events on our blog.

  1. Open Hardware Summit
  2. New Space Conference

We find that nothing quite replaces face-to-face meetings with other space and open hardware enthusiasts. Conferences never fail to be worth the effort. Attending a space or open hardware related conference in 2014? Keep an eye on our social media channels to see if we’ll be there. We’d love to meet you!

Moving Forward

While we’re excited about what we were able to accomplish in 2013, there is so much more that can be done in 2014 with your involvement. If you have a passion for space, and want to see it become a deeper part of your everyday life, please consider becoming a member of the Mach 30 Catalyst Club. The Catalyst Club is our yearly membership program that allows you to contribute directly to Mach 30’s mission. There are multiple levels of donation, from $20 to $1000. Please consider giving at whatever level fits you the best, and partner with us in hastening the advancement of humanity into a spacefaring civilization.

Ad astra per civitatem – to the stars through community.

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