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September 23, 2010

Quicklaunch, Cubesats and Open Source Satellite Initiative

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The basic idea of Quicklaunch is that you launch a projectile from a cannon at 6 kilometers per second using compressed hydrogen gas. On a conventional rocket, the payload fraction is about 3%, whereas with our concept the payload is more than 20%. For just $12 million in funding they could be launching cube satellites into orbit by 2013. It currently costs about $100,000 to launch a cubesat. A working cannon launcher could bring the cost down to a few thousand dollars.

Phase 1 - 1 year and 2 million

They use the original 240 foot long SHARP pump tube run in single stage mode. This delivers inert 40 lb vehicles to an apogee in excess of 200 km and breaks the existing record of 180 km

Phase 2: 2 years and $10M

We use a 400 foot long Quicklauncher launching a single stage rocket motor to deliver a 1 kg Cubesat to orbit. We will then collaborate with universities on a large number of Cubesat launches. These launches will allow us to fully break in the launcher prior to Phase 3.



Phase 3: 2 years and $50M

We build and operate 400 meter long Quicklaunchers called QL-100 to deliver 100 lb payloads to orbit. These $50M launchers can deliver supplies and certain classes of satellites on demand. This dovetails with a DARPA project called Orbital Express which recently demonstrated satellite docking and transfer of propellant and batteries. The customers will range from commercial satellite providers to NASA and The European Space Agency

Phase 4: 3 years and $500M

We build and operate 1,100 meter long Quicklaunchers called QL-1000 to deliver 1,000 lb propellant payloads to orbit. The customers will range from NASA and other space consortiums to Space Entrepreneurs such as Bigelow Aerospace and Virgin Galactic. Phase 4 will supply 2,000 tons (4 million lbs) yearly. Supplying affordable propellant to depots in orbit will enable manned exploration of Mars and the Moon.


Hojun Song built a fully functioning satellite. It’s set to become the first comsat designed and financed by a private citizen to reach orbit. The tiny (about 60 cubic inches) and cheap (around $500) device is a masterpiece of DIY engineering: Song hacked together a solar cell, a lithium-ion battery, an Arduino board modded to withstand cosmic rays, and four LED lights powerful enough to be seen from back on Earth. Song will fork out $100,000 to commercial rocket company NovaNano to launch his supercheap creation into orbit.

The Open source satellite initiative is trying to develop open source satellites.

Several companies, universities and private individuals are making cubesats

A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), weighs no more than one kilogram, and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf electronics components. Beginning in 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to help universities worldwide to perform space science and exploration. Several companies have built CubeSats, including large-satellite-maker Boeing. However, the majority of development comes from academia







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