After a long hard fought battle with the UK Space establishment (namely UK Space Agency and David Willetts office (minister responsible for this area)) we have been unable to secure the required license for our proposed satellite AlbaQube, to deliver a Space Burial service.
I should start by saying we had negotiated a deal on a commercial rocket vehicle (SpaceX Falcon 9 (replacement to the Space Shuttle and ISS resupply vehicle)) and had support from a university to build a student led satellite project. In the end, small minded bureaucrats killed any chance we had of getting to market. This is very frustrating on few counts as we got beat to market by a Silicon Valley rival (TIME Article), essentially validating our market assumptions.
We made lots of friends and had many supporters, to name a few; Virgin Galactic Founding President Will Whitehorn, Stuart Martin (CEO of the Satellite Applications catapult), Tony Banks (Scotland’s first Space Tourist, VG Passenger 200) and the only Conservative MP in Scotland RT Hon David Mundell MP. We climbed the bureaucratic tree, talked to David Willetts, he essentially said no, so we move on and try something new.
We are pivoting. We stumbled across an embryonic idea for a new satellite standard called ‘PocketQube’. Proposed by Prof Bob Twiggs (Cubesat creator) we really liked the idea of going to a 5cm cube form factor as you solve one of the biggest barriers to entry in satellites, cost.
So after a couple of months in planning we are ‘Kickstarting’ this new standard by manufacturing the building blocks of Satellites, the structures. We are going to enable others to build their own satellites.
We are doing a Kickstarter with structures as rewards as well as lots of other goodies. Our kick-off date is Tuesday the 24th of September. It would be great to have your support, either getting yourself an AWESOME reward, and/or sharing with your network. We are looking for campaign helpers if you have a free hour or two drop me an email.
Thanks for supporting Alba Orbital so far, the game plan has changed, but we will keep on rolling forward!
On this day, 83 years ago, the first man to ever walk on another world was born. Neil Alden Armstrong was born near Wapakoneta, Ohio. Of Scottish descent (and other nations to but we are biased) went on to make history.
Paving a new path
Its hard to imagine how unlikely the story actual was, although in retrospect it looks like a given. Boy from small town in Ohio travels to the moon. I was fortunate enough to have diner with with Dick Gordon last year, who followed in Armstrong’s footsteps as the command module pilot for Apollo 12. Dick brought up a really interesting point. When he was growing up no one had been to space, never mind going to the moon. It was not something people thought was possible, never mind an actual career path.
Road to the Moon
A test pilot with the Navy, Armstrong’s first space-flight was on the Gemini 8 mission with David Scott. The mission was the first ever docking between two spacecraft. This laid the foundations for his Apollo 11 flight, the first landing ever attempted on the moon. It is quite possibly the high watermark for humanity and our civilisation.
Neil passed on last year and leaves several generations inspired with his ‘one small step’. Apollo was a program he was the picture boy for. We have moved back from the frontier in terms of human space-flight, but ultimately the knowledge gained in these endeavours is being utilised by commercial organisations and will undoubtedly help us in our next giant leap.
Earlier this week NASA pointed its spacecraft Cassini, which is orbiting Saturn, in the direction of Earth. From almost 900 million miles away, you can just about make out our home planet under Saturn’s magnificent ring. The picture, to use the words of the late Carl Sagan “might not seem of any particular interest, but for us, it’s different.”
Perspective is very important. It sometimes goes undervalued in the rush of our modern lives. So self consumed in the elation and pain we all face, but it is important to take a step back every so often to question our small stage in the vast cosmic arena. Perspective is not only seeing your home planet from nearly 1 billion miles away, it is finding out what you want, why you do what you do and how you are trying to make your stamp on life. Your vision and Values.
”Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot
Alba are trying to make our own small stamp and we would encourage you to channel Sagan’s call to make your own. By gaining perspective it is easier to see the larger challenges we all face, compared to those that seem important in the moment but as time passes are easily forgotten.
Space is the ocean we are all connected whether we are aware or not. We want humanity to do its bit to Explore, Dream and Discover. We are trying our best with our small startup.
We have been busy as always. Lots of thing to discuss but I will keep it brief. We were fortunate enough to have a meeting with Will Whitehorn, the Founder and Former President of Virgin Galactic. Will is a fellow Scot and has been instrumental in helping our fight through bureaucracy.
We have meetings lined up with MP’s and until we can bypass this our product launch will have to wait. The goal was always late summer, but we never counted on the slow progress of legislators. We are hanging in there and as soon as we can offer our initial service, we will.
Tom Walkinshaw our Founder has also been busy presenting Alba Orbital to the Funeral industry. Last month he presented to the National Association of Funeral Directors in Southampton. The talk was well received and was a great platform to promote the Alba message.
Finally we have begun work on our new Website. It will hopefully raise the bar and we think it is really going to be something special.
Just a quick update this month. Our Founder Tom Walkinshaw has been interviewed by SIE (Scottish Institute of Enterprise) talking about Alba Orbital and our Space Burial / Ashes products and services. Enjoy!