Category Archives: Planning

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

Modeling RLV Conceptual Designs

It should come as no surprise that I am interested in Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs), specifically their design.  Since founding Mach 30, I have come to believe that the key to successfully developing the first true RLV is to follow the example of the Wrights and other successful innovators, and start with much more modest requirements than in the past. But developing improved requirements is only the first step of many.  The next step is to develop and analyze concepts for systems which can meet these requirements.  And, while I do have some ideas for some concepts, there is still the problem of analyzing these concepts.  As a Phoenix Integration employee, and someone with a good deal of experience with their tools, my first tool of choice for approaching this kind of work is ModelCenter.  ModelCenter’s role in this kind of analysis is to bring a variety of specialty tools together and facilitate their interconnection into a system level model.  For any given modeling scenario, the next question is then how to develop the interconnected analyses, and what tools are best used in their development. (more…)

Another way to spread the word = survey

A state-of-the-industry survey.

  • Background:

I have been thinking about how to show that the Mach 30 concept is a good idea.  So far it has been J’s crazy idea that some other unique individuals (like the founders of Cstart, open space movement, etc) have also had independently.  It’s not that I don’t trust J.  I defiantly understand this new philosophy, and can see the future where these ideas help motivate us to become spacefaring.  I just want an independent quantitative verification.  If there was some “study” or “survey” that showed data about how open source has worked its way into software, we could then start to draw this picture for hardware and space hardware in particular.  The results of these questions could be used to charaterize how the community currently perceives our main mission areas.

  • Audience:

We can discuss the best ways to distribute this to our target audience, and who, exactly, is our target audience.

  • Purpose(s):

Gets the word about Mach 30 out to the community
Increases awareness in the community of the ideas of open design hardware, mature technology, crowd-sourcing, etc
Solicits input from the community about their perceptions about the current state of industry
To identify the viable sectors where we will find supporters for Mach 30
Collect feedback for analysis of the likelihood of Mach30 catching on, how open to these new ideas is the industry.

  • Sample survey questions:

(DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a survey developer, these questions must be re-written and cleaned up to ensure unbiased results and maximum participation)  These questions are provided to get a general idea for the concepts we want to elicit from the participants:

Open Source Software:
– Have you heard the term “Open Source”?
– Are you familiar with the Open Source software movement?
– Have you used Open Source software before?
– Have you modified or tweaked Open Source programs for personal or other use?
– Have you contributed to an existing Open Source software project?
– What do you think is the market-share for Open Source software? or How prevalent or wide spread do you think open source software is in the current industry?
– Do you think that open source software is gaining popularity, losing popularity or about the same?

Open Source Hardware:
– Are you familiar with the Open Source hardware movement?
– Have you used Open Source hardware before?
– Have you modified or tweaked Open Source hardware for personal or other uses?
– Have you contributed to an existing Open Source hardware project?
– How prevalent or wide spread do you think open source hardware is in the current industry?
– Do you think that open source hardware is gaining popularity, losing popularity or about the same?

Crowd sourcing:
– Have you heard the term “Crowd Sourcing”?
– Are you familiar with the Crowd-sourcing movement?
– Could you hold an informed discussion about the merits and drawbacks of crowd-sourcing?
– Have you ever participated in a crowd sourced project?
– Is the idea of crowdsourcing gaining popularity, losing popularity or staying the same?

Mature technology:
– Have you heard the term “Reusable Launch Vehicle” when referring to rockets and other spacecraft.
– Does the US currently have a reusable launch vehicle for putting satellites into orbit?
– How reliable is the current space access infrastructure?
– etc.

Sustainable Leadership:
– Are you familiar with the consensus based decision making model
– Questions about “flat” vs “tall” organizations

…you get the idea

Communication method to “our” community

Dear Mach 30 board,

I think I’ve worked out the most critical issue in my mind about the process of increasing Mach 30 participation.  I’ve developed this idea based on my experience with Cstart and the Open Space Movement.  Both of these groups formed when a community of individuals that were communicating in other ways decided that they should form an organization.  Cstart was formed by Reddit subscribers and most of OSM’s members came from the something aweful forums.  In the past few weeks, I have seen the Cstart model work well when conducting their distributed collaborative work on Reddit and then link back to their website.

I am admitedly not an expert in communcations or public relations but I think it will be critically important to develop an avenue of communication.  Since the Mach 30 organization formed backwards or in reverse of the above examples, what we need now is a community to grow around us instead of an organization to grow out of a community.  What communication avenues are best suited to have a community form around them?  In this age of instant communication and 24/7 access is there another mechanism to reach a large audience who will then self-select to join us?


Project: Hackerspace tour of the mid west

Purpose:  Community building, Getting our name out, Capacity demonstration/test

Description:  Mach 30 board members schedule visits to various hackerspaces.  These visits allows Mach 30 to advertize to their target demographic (makers, space enthusiasts, etc.).  Also the concept of bringing some type of demo project that would involve participation from the hosting space’s members.

A similar tour was done by Noisebridge member Mitch:…

Possible Destinations:

OCD — Detroit, MI
Mt. Elliot Makerspace – Detroit, MI
I3 — Detroit, MI
A2 MechShop — Ann Arbor, MI
AHA — Ann Arbor, MI
LVL1/Actors Theatre – Louisville, KY
LVL1 — Louisville, KY
Hive13 — Cincinnati, OH
BloomingLabs — Bloomington, IN
Arch Reactor — St. Louis, MO
KC Mini Maker Faire / CCCKC — Kansas City, MO
Quad Cities Co-Lab Hackerspace — Quad Cities, IA/IL 
PS:1 — Chicago, IL
Madison BarCamp — Madison, WI
Sector67 – Madison, WI

Project ideas:

  • Weather balloon camera to space:
    • Set up in the morning (photo document the days activities)
    • Launch balloon (photo document the days activities)
    • Track progress throughout the day (photo document the days activities)
    • Enlist the help of members to chase and recover camera package
    • Download pictures and compile presentation by adding todays photos to existing template
    • Evening briefing about Mach 30 and include pics from todays acticvities
    • Catered Dinner?
  • Portable satelliete tracking ground station
    • Set up ground station (photo document the days activities)
    • Determine the availbility of trackable satellite passes (photo document the days activities)
      • viable passes: demo the tracking system (photo document the days activities)
      • if there are no viable passes, run a pre-recorded simulation
    • Compile presentation by adding todays photos to existing template
    • Briefing about Mach 30 including pics from todays activities
  • Demo firing of hybrid rocket engine
  • Other ideas?