Author Topic: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC  (Read 18042 times)

Offline Danderman

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Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« on: 01/12/2017 04:19 am »
http://www.aphelionorbitals.com/

I stumbled upon this company on Facebook. I can't claim to know anything more about them than what is on their internet sites.


Offline josespeck

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« Last Edit: 02/24/2017 01:33 am by gongora »

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #2 on: 01/12/2017 11:17 am »
Best of luck guys - interesting to see such a *different* (no sarcasm intended) set of skills within this tiny company.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #3 on: 01/12/2017 01:12 pm »
Apparently, they could find nobody involved with the company who could string together a few grammatical
English sentences.  Reading their blurb about the company is painful, both because the text is ungrammatical and because it's illogical or incorrect at places.

The very first sentence is "Aphelion orbitals was founded with the vision for space is open for all."  That's not grammatical and it's not clear exactly what it means.  Did they mean "that" instead of "for", so their vision is "space is open for all"?  Usually, a vision is something that isn't already true, so are they saying their vision is to open space for everyone?  Or are they saying they already think space is open for all, as their use of the present tense indicates, and they want to take advantage of that?

The next sentence has "only that was" where they apparently mean "that was only".  The next has "by rise" for "by the rise" and, more importantly, uses the word "shaped" which makes no sense in that context.  Apparently they mean "changed" since the "that" in the subject refers to the old status quo.

Then there's this gem: "manifesting a launch is still something unthinkable by even the largest of companies today".  That's clearly wrong in multiple ways.  The private satellite launch business is huge.  Clearly, large telecom operators can not only think about launching satellites, they do it all the time.  Even more problematically, though, there are already launch services available for smaller payloads on rideshares for such low prices that a huge range of companies could consider them.

Then they have "This is not to say, individuals and small companies who require a dedicated launch for their nanosatellites."  There's no verb in that sentence, and that makes it unclear what their point even is.  What do they mean about those individuals and small companies?  Maybe they just mean that there are such individuals and companies.  Then they talk about the launch of the first satellites and claim "as technology progressed, the availability of an orbital launch vehicle has not improved".  That's another claim that's clearly patently false.

Later, after more problematic text, they get to what seems to be their central claim: "We are uniquely positioned to change something about the whole space industry that they cannot: a rocket is, fundamentally, no more complex to design and build than a large car."  What?  Do they mean that it's a pre-existing fact that a rocket is that simple to design and build and they are going to take advantage of it?  Or do they mean that today it's not true but they are going to make it true?  Either way, why are they uniquely positioned for that?  Why can their competitors not do the same thing?  They've offered absolutely no rationale at all for the "we are uniquely positioned" bit, let alone the claim that it is or will be true that rockets are "no more complex to design and build than a large car".

They then list their key people and have a blurb about each.  Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets, except for one about whom they list no professional experience at all in any area.  Even the first person listed, who is presumably the leader, only seems to have academic experience in anything aerospace-related, with his professional experience working for a datacenter company.  It says he's been building rocket engines and other aerospace components "independently", not professionally.

It certainly has the looks of some amateur rocket enthusiasts more than serious professionals.

Offline Nomic

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #4 on: 01/12/2017 01:28 pm »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.


Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #5 on: 01/12/2017 03:19 pm »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.


Hope they don't get sued into oblivion by VG.

Offline Craftyatom

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #6 on: 01/12/2017 04:28 pm »
"Crucial components in the first stage are designed to be detachable for recovery post-flight"

Sounds like they're going for SMART-style engine recovery rather than trying to bring the whole metal+composite structure back down.  Nice to see them considering reusability, though for a vehicle this small and easy to produce (supposedly) it seems like it might not be worth it, IMO.

The sub-$1m price tag is exciting, but something tells me it won't stay that way for too long, even if they do make it to flight.  Still, it's a good ambition.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #7 on: 01/12/2017 06:11 pm »
Ha.

This is precisely what I was postulating about Relativity yesterday in terms of an ultra light, single payload nano-launcher. Even my pricing wasn't far off at $350K a shot - I guess if you add range fees you get to $550K in heartbeat.

It's an interesting model.

The issue with this is you still need to build a 9mx1m 10 ton rocket - and get 35 tons of paperwork completed to actually launch it, which is a much bugger hurdle than the tech in my opinion.

What's this, US smallsat launcher #15?

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #8 on: 01/12/2017 07:32 pm »
Hmm, I wonder how Richard Feynman would feel about a theoretical rocket being named after him.

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #9 on: 01/12/2017 07:59 pm »
It says tankage and engine derived from Trailblazer rocket, and then mentions cryo methane, carbon fiber tanks, and an aerospace engine. Trailblazer was solid fuel, no?

This looks like an undergrad thesis project, and they were looking over Firefly's shoulder.

Matthew

Edit: looking at the website, they also have a hokey latin motto, so maybe Blue Origin gets some footnote love as well

Edit II: This does seem like some very ambitious young people. I hope they can find financing and an editor.

« Last Edit: 01/12/2017 11:53 pm by matthewkantar »

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #10 on: 01/13/2017 05:57 am »
They then list their key people and have a blurb about each.  Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets, except for one about whom they list no professional experience at all in any area.  Even the first person listed, who is presumably the leader, only seems to have academic experience in anything aerospace-related, with his professional experience working for a datacenter company.  It says he's been building rocket engines and other aerospace components "independently", not professionally.

It certainly has the looks of some amateur rocket enthusiasts more than serious professionals.

3 of 6 team members have background on partical accelerators, and the company is operating linear accelerators for space radiation simulating service.

Looks like a radiation test company claming some fictional launcher to lure investors.

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #11 on: 01/13/2017 06:21 am »
Ha.

This is precisely what I was postulating about Relativity yesterday in terms of an ultra light, single payload nano-launcher. Even my pricing wasn't far off at $350K a shot - I guess if you add range fees you get to $550K in heartbeat.

It's an interesting model.

The issue with this is you still need to build a 9mx1m 10 ton rocket - and get 35 tons of paperwork completed to actually launch it, which is a much bugger hurdle than the tech in my opinion.

What's this, US smallsat launcher #15?

Note the Japanese JAXA SS-520-4 Cubesat launcher, 4kg/2.6t, $250k, even not a commercial one.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40509.0

There may be 5~10 more tiny launchers emerging in this category, since the average success rate of VC is around 10%, suppose 1 success.

Offline Vultur

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #12 on: 01/14/2017 04:45 am »
The very first sentence is "Aphelion orbitals was founded with the vision for space is open for all."  That's not grammatical and it's not clear exactly what it means.  Did they mean "that" instead of "for", so their vision is "space is open for all"?  Usually, a vision is something that isn't already true, so are they saying their vision is to open space for everyone?

I think that's what is meant. Their motto is 'Ianuas Caelorum Aperiemus' which means 'we will open the doors of the heavens'.

Quote
Then they have "This is not to say, individuals and small companies who require a dedicated launch for their nanosatellites."  There's no verb in that sentence, and that makes it unclear what their point even is.

I'm pretty sure they mean "not to mention".

Quote
  Then they talk about the launch of the first satellites and claim "as technology progressed, the availability of an orbital launch vehicle has not improved".  That's another claim that's clearly patently false.

Eh - it's somewhat of an exaggeration, but they're comparing the advancement of computer technology vs rocket technology over the last few decades. From that perspective, the cost/availability of launch hasn't changed that much.

Quote
Later, after more problematic text, they get to what seems to be their central claim: "We are uniquely positioned to change something about the whole space industry that they cannot: a rocket is, fundamentally, no more complex to design and build than a large car."  What?  Do they mean that it's a pre-existing fact that a rocket is that simple to design and build and they are going to take advantage of it?  Or do they mean that today it's not true but they are going to make it true?

I think it means that fundamentally rockets don't have to be more complex than a car but they intend to be the first to build one that actually is no more complex.

I think it's the same way of speaking as when Elon Musk says things like 'the propellant for Falcon 9 is only $200,000 so theoretically we could get something like two orders of magnitude cost reduction' (not an exact quote).

Quote
Either way, why are they uniquely positioned for that?  Why can their competitors not do the same thing?

Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #13 on: 01/14/2017 09:04 am »
The very first sentence is "Aphelion orbitals was founded with the vision for space is open for all."  That's not grammatical and it's not clear exactly what it means.  Did they mean "that" instead of "for", so their vision is "space is open for all"?  Usually, a vision is something that isn't already true, so are they saying their vision is to open space for everyone?

I think that's what is meant. Their motto is 'Ianuas Caelorum Aperiemus' which means 'we will open the doors of the heavens'.

Quote
Then they have "This is not to say, individuals and small companies who require a dedicated launch for their nanosatellites."  There's no verb in that sentence, and that makes it unclear what their point even is.

I'm pretty sure they mean "not to mention".

Quote
  Then they talk about the launch of the first satellites and claim "as technology progressed, the availability of an orbital launch vehicle has not improved".  That's another claim that's clearly patently false.

Eh - it's somewhat of an exaggeration, but they're comparing the advancement of computer technology vs rocket technology over the last few decades. From that perspective, the cost/availability of launch hasn't changed that much.

Quote
Later, after more problematic text, they get to what seems to be their central claim: "We are uniquely positioned to change something about the whole space industry that they cannot: a rocket is, fundamentally, no more complex to design and build than a large car."  What?  Do they mean that it's a pre-existing fact that a rocket is that simple to design and build and they are going to take advantage of it?  Or do they mean that today it's not true but they are going to make it true?

I think it means that fundamentally rockets don't have to be more complex than a car but they intend to be the first to build one that actually is no more complex.

I think it's the same way of speaking as when Elon Musk says things like 'the propellant for Falcon 9 is only $200,000 so theoretically we could get something like two orders of magnitude cost reduction' (not an exact quote).

Quote
Either way, why are they uniquely positioned for that?  Why can their competitors not do the same thing?

Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.
And attract investors from electronics industry?
It is quite doubtful how much does investors from electronics industry knows about rocktary.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #14 on: 01/14/2017 02:33 pm »
The very first sentence is "Aphelion orbitals was founded with the vision for space is open for all."  That's not grammatical and it's not clear exactly what it means.  Did they mean "that" instead of "for", so their vision is "space is open for all"?  Usually, a vision is something that isn't already true, so are they saying their vision is to open space for everyone?

I think that's what is meant. Their motto is 'Ianuas Caelorum Aperiemus' which means 'we will open the doors of the heavens'.

I think that's what they meant too.  My point, though, isn't so much that we can't figure out what they probably meant.  My point is that they don't give the appearance of even minimal competence if they can't write some text that clearly and effectively communicates their message.

Basically all they have right now is their web site.  If they can't even do that well, things are not looking good for them.  Communication is an essential for any business.

Quote
  Then they talk about the launch of the first satellites and claim "as technology progressed, the availability of an orbital launch vehicle has not improved".  That's another claim that's clearly patently false.

Eh - it's somewhat of an exaggeration, but they're comparing the advancement of computer technology vs rocket technology over the last few decades. From that perspective, the cost/availability of launch hasn't changed that much.

I think it's more than just somewhat of an exaggeration, it's quite a large exaggeration.  There has been an enormous improvement of cost and availability of launch over the decades.  If they meant it hasn't progressed as much as the improvements in the cost and availability of other technologies, they should have said that.

If they're making material exaggerations about things where we know the underlying truth, we (and investors) can't trust their claims about things where we don't know the underlying truth, such as whether they are capable of pulling of what they aim for.

Quote
Either way, why are they uniquely positioned for that?  Why can their competitors not do the same thing?

Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.

If that's what they meant, why couldn't they say that?

Anyway, they're hardly the first to try to apply computer-industry thinking to launch.  So their claim their are uniquely positioned is without support.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #15 on: 01/14/2017 02:40 pm »
Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.
And attract investors from electronics industry?
It is quite doubtful how much does investors from electronics industry knows about rocktary.

I think their only hope of getting funded is to find investors who don't know much about rocketry.  And who don't know much about business in general, actually.  Even investors who know nothing about rocketry should be able to see this crew is among the weakest in an overcrowded field.  They need to find people with a lot of money, a romantic desire to own a rocket company, and no investment sense.

Excalibur Almaz was able to find some such investors, so it's not impossible.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #16 on: 01/14/2017 02:42 pm »


"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.

Firefly switched to RP1 because they couldn't make pressure fed Methane work.


Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #17 on: 01/15/2017 05:20 am »
Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.
And attract investors from electronics industry?
It is quite doubtful how much does investors from electronics industry knows about rocktary.

I think their only hope of getting funded is to find investors who don't know much about rocketry.  And who don't know much about business in general, actually.  Even investors who know nothing about rocketry should be able to see this crew is among the weakest in an overcrowded field.  They need to find people with a lot of money, a romantic desire to own a rocket company, and no investment sense.

Excalibur Almaz was able to find some such investors, so it's not impossible.

It's doubtful do they acctually expect to be FUNDED FOR THE LAUNCHER?

Or they want to be funded for radiation testing service and sounding rocket, with a PAPER launcher for PR , as Sea Dragon or ITS?

And should this activity be blamed or punished as cheating?

Anyway, the company have income on radiation testing for backup, while Firefly and similar startups take full risk of launcher project. The risk of company bankrupt is much smaller.

VC generally prefer high growth / high risk and neglects company with steady income. So the latter may have intention of adding fictional projects to existing buisness.

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #18 on: 01/15/2017 05:24 am »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.

The Trailblazer is totally different, LOX Alcohol , aluminium tank, conventional nozzle.

This launcher is more likely a fiction added over real buisness projects. Similar buisness PR may become ubiqous in the world after SpaceX claimed ITS.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #19 on: 01/15/2017 05:44 am »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.

The Trailblazer is totally different, LOX Alcohol , aluminium tank, conventional nozzle.

This launcher is more likely a fiction added over real buisness projects. Similar buisness PR may become ubiqous in the world after SpaceX claimed ITS.

There's no evidence that ITS is fiction over real business projects, and lots of evidence it is not fiction at all.

I also see no evidence that this company's real business is radiation testing.  Is that just speculation because some of the key people have experience in that area or is there any actual evidence?

Offline Proponent

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #20 on: 01/15/2017 07:35 am »
Firefly switched to RP1 because they couldn't make pressure fed Methane work.

To nuance this a bit, I believe the issue it wasn't that pressure-fed methane flat out couldn't be made to work, but rather that analyzing the cooling was going to be a research project all by itself.

EDIT:  Eliminated erroneous "it was going to"
« Last Edit: 01/24/2017 08:23 am by Proponent »

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #21 on: 01/15/2017 12:14 pm »
"Stabilization fins (not shown) reduce range requirements and associated fees per launch", ehh?

Lox/methane aerospike first stage, warm gas pressurization, image shows a tank on top of the two main tanks, so maybe warm helium rather than autogenous. 1426 Kg seems very light.

The Trailblazer is totally different, LOX Alcohol , aluminium tank, conventional nozzle.

This launcher is more likely a fiction added over real buisness projects. Similar buisness PR may become ubiqous in the world after SpaceX claimed ITS.

There's no evidence that ITS is fiction over real business projects, and lots of evidence it is not fiction at all.

I also see no evidence that this company's real business is radiation testing.  Is that just speculation because some of the key people have experience in that area or is there any actual evidence?

If "fiction" does not accurately describe the situation, both projects are exaggerating bonus beyond basic business model, though on extremely different scale. Those projects could fail / delay / cancel at any time without harm to business survival.

For radiation testing:
http://www.aphelionorbitals.com/space-environment-testing/

Space environment testing is becoming increasingly more important in the nanosatellite market due to demand for radiation tolerant components and rising expectations for in-orbit longevity. The use of commercial off-the-shelf parts necessitates their characterization under in-orbit radiation environments. However, this is rarely performed by competitor manufacturers, resulting in unoptimized designs and unpredictable lifespans during mission-critical applications. Aphelion's radiation testing facility, which consists of a thermal vacuum target chamber and a 20MeV linear accelerator at its core, allows for rigorous testing of all our designs before they are finalized for flight. As of now, we are going through the procedures for installing and bringing online the facility which will be operational to provide the following services by 2017:

    Radiation testing for satellite components
    Free electron laser based high intensity beam
    Beam time on the linear accelerator for material testing and research

Moreover, our company has facilities in New York and Indiana dedicated to the development of ion sources, electron guns, accelerating cavities, and particle source. This allows for a unique opportunity for in-house radiation testing of satellites; this vacuum experience as well as the systems alongside them compliment our electrical propulsion capabilities. Our previous works include a number of fast neutron sources, 20 W class hall effect thrusters, and thermionic electron guns.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2017 12:46 pm by Katana »

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #22 on: 01/15/2017 12:21 pm »

Note the Japanese JAXA SS-520-4 Cubesat launcher, 4kg/2.6t, $250k, even not a commercial one.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40509.0

There may be 5~10 more tiny launchers emerging in this category, since the average success rate of VC is around 10%, suppose 1 success.

http://www.spaceflightinider.com/organizations/jaxa/smallest-orbital-class-rocket-launch-ends-failure/
The failure won't discourage potential players, even may attract more.
As tiny launcher becomes a "proven" market concept without strong competitors.
SS-520-4 is very coarse, no active control during engine firing, only turning control after stage 1 and before stage 2.

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #23 on: 01/15/2017 12:32 pm »
Firefly switched to RP1 because they couldn't make pressure fed Methane work.

To nuance this a bit, I believe the issue it wasn't that pressure-fed methane flat out couldn't be made to work, but rather that . it was going to analyzing the cooling was going to be a research project all by itself.

Warm gas is different from autogenous.
Tridyne (He+H2+O2 mixture) catalyst system works more simple.
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/warm_gas_press_of_propellant_tanks.pdf

Offline Katana

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #24 on: 01/15/2017 01:24 pm »
Quote
Not a single one of them seems to have any experience whatsoever working for any launch vehicle company.  The head of the propulsion department's main experience is designing electronics and vacuum chambers.  In fact, every single person on their list seems to have more professional experience in electronics, computers, or "STEM outreach" than designing rockets

I think that's exactly it. They seem to be talking about transferring 'electronics industry thinking' to rockets.
And attract investors from electronics industry?
It is quite doubtful how much does investors from electronics industry knows about rocktary.

I think their only hope of getting funded is to find investors who don't know much about rocketry.  And who don't know much about business in general, actually.  Even investors who know nothing about rocketry should be able to see this crew is among the weakest in an overcrowded field.  They need to find people with a lot of money, a romantic desire to own a rocket company, and no investment sense.

Excalibur Almaz was able to find some such investors, so it's not impossible.
Aphelion's budget may be 1/10 of Firefly-class, lots of potential investors want to invest on rocket company but could not afford them could be interested.

The weakness of Aphelion and SS-520-4 may in turn become low hanging fruit, attracting more professional workers (i.e. laid off workers of Firefly) to build new teams.

...And a major bubble situation of the rocket industry.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #25 on: 07/29/2017 12:31 pm »
http://aphelionorbitals.com/ has just announced $500k in angel funding:

TITUSVILLE, Fla., July 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Aphelion Orbitals, Inc., an innovative nanosatellite manufacturer and launch services provider, announced today it has successfully closed on $500K in seed funding from an international group of angel investors. With the brightest young talent in the aerospace industry, Aphelion Orbitals operates from offices in New York City, NY and Titusville, FL as well as an R&D facility in Union City, NJ. Aphelion Orbitals was founded to dramatically reduce the costs of getting to space for nano-satellites and revolutionize access to space.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aphelion-orbitals-secures-seed-funding-announces-plans-to-revolutionize-low-cost-space-access-300496189.html

Launcher is a low cost orbital LV that looks to undercut Vector's business model I guess, at $550k per launch:-

Feynman is a dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle capable of delivering payloads of up to 11kg into sun-synchronous orbit. Its low cost is enabled by our innovations in manufacturing and nanolauncher technology. Each orbital launch is priced starting at $550,000*.

- Extremely fast turnover rate: first routinely launched orbital delivery service
- Missions tailored to customer profile special payload accomodations and irregular envelopes
- Provides launch services for 1U, 3U, 6U, and other Cubesat configurations
- To polar orbit, SSO, and highly eccentric orbits.

*Tentative. Prices are subject to change.


Love the asterisk.

USA cube/smallsat launch market is looking mighty crowded. Firefly Aerospace, Virgin Orbit, Relativity Space, Stratolauncher, Go Launcher, Vector Space, Bagaveev, Spaceflight + Spacex, ULA's Cubesat programme, Arca...

Offline Kryten

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #26 on: 11/13/2018 09:02 am »

Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #27 on: 11/13/2018 11:46 am »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

http://www.aphelionorbitals.com/blog/2018/11/12/successful-main-propulsion-test-fire

They are claiming a successful full-duration test fire ("Notably, the engine ran smoothly with steady combustion for the entire burn"), even though they detonated the chamber and were just flowing burning propellants onto the ground. Personally, I would call it a failed hotfire with a successful full-duration flow test of their injector, but that's just my opinion.
« Last Edit: 11/13/2018 11:49 am by Gliderflyer »
I tried it at home

Offline envy887

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #28 on: 11/13/2018 04:27 pm »
You can see the nozzle flying towards the camera at 1:27 in the video.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #29 on: 11/13/2018 05:02 pm »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

What do we know about the density and Isp of that combination?  How green is it (figuratively, not literally!) if it is spewing copper compounds into the atmosphere?

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #30 on: 11/13/2018 10:52 pm »
Anyone have an idea what they could be burning to get that bright yellow flame? Their website only says they're using green, high density hypergolic propellants'.

Hydrogen peroxide and ethanolamine, along with a special additive. The fireball has a green tint, so I'm guessing the additive has copper in it, possibly CuCl2.

What do we know about the density and Isp of that combination?  How green is it (figuratively, not literally!) if it is spewing copper compounds into the atmosphere?

Both of the densities are slightly higher than water, and Aphelion claims an Isp similar to LOX and RP-1 (although that doesn't really narrow it down). Don't know how green it is (I wouldn't call it green, but I'm in the "if I can't spill it on my hands, it isn't green" camp). It doesn't look like it gives you instant cancer, so it is probably better than most alternatives. The MSDS recommends a face shield, gloves and respirator.
I tried it at home


Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #32 on: 12/13/2018 03:36 pm »
I think they would have had a better luck if they focused on CubeSat systems given their personnel background.

Offline Craftyatom

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #33 on: 12/13/2018 05:31 pm »
For me, the most interesting part of that release was the last slide: a log-log plot of launch cost vs. launch mass.  Definitely an interesting way to compare potential launch services with existing ones.  I do wonder where they got those numbers - they seem to have an awful lot of data points with slightly different costs and masses - but it was interesting that high-energy orbits didn't completely ruin the plot, just spread a given company's cloud out.

I did some pixel-counting to find the values their regression uses, and then de-logged it to find the real numbers.  Based on their calculations, in today's launch market, the cost (in dollars) of a launch is equal to [payload mass in kg].716 x 142889 - that is, a 1kg payload should cost about $143k, and each time the payload mass grows by a factor of 10, the cost increases by a factor of 5.2.  Whether this regression is valid, especially for extrapolation, is up for debate (I still see a curve in the data), but those are the numbers they came up with.

Here's hoping this graph becomes outdated sooner rather than later!
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #34 on: 12/14/2018 07:41 am »
From the tank volumes, looks like they are using HTP. Also looks like there is a third kick stage, like on Electron.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #35 on: 12/14/2018 11:41 am »
From the tank volumes, looks like they are using HTP. Also looks like there is a third kick stage, like on Electron.
*Were* using HTP. They are now out of business according to the LinkedIn posts of the ex-CTO (see the sister post to this one with the slides).
« Last Edit: 12/14/2018 11:41 am by ringsider »

Offline brickmack

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #36 on: 12/14/2018 08:59 pm »
So what went wrong? The last update I can find is his "Aphelion Orbitals Journey" post also on LinkedIn, from only about 2 weeks earlier, and it seems pretty optimistic still, no mention of any trouble or of any contracts/grants/investment rounds that could have been at risk. Were they expecting some investment contingent on that static fire, and the investor wasn't satisfied with "it blew up, but look how easy the cleanup was!"?

Offline ringsider

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #37 on: 12/14/2018 09:30 pm »
So what went wrong? The last update I can find is his "Aphelion Orbitals Journey" post also on LinkedIn, from only about 2 weeks earlier, and it seems pretty optimistic still, no mention of any trouble or of any contracts/grants/investment rounds that could have been at risk. Were they expecting some investment contingent on that static fire, and the investor wasn't satisfied with "it blew up, but look how easy the cleanup was!"?
I guess they ran out of money. The note to the slides says pretty much that:-

"Here are the slides from Aphelion Orbitals' last pitch deck before winding down operations. We had a good plan, ambitious yet competent. It's so sad we just ran out of time."
« Last Edit: 12/14/2018 09:30 pm by ringsider »

Offline eeergo

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #38 on: 01/24/2019 11:13 am »
More information on this former founder's GoFundMe page. Also shows the ugly, but more common than not, side of "startups".

https://www.gofundme.com/i-lost-everything-when-my-business-closed
-DaviD-

Offline IanO

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #39 on: 01/27/2019 06:10 pm »
More information on this former founder's GoFundMe page. Also shows the ugly, but more common than not, side of "startups".

https://www.gofundme.com/i-lost-everything-when-my-business-closed
Ugly indeed! The building flooding problems made made me think this was some third-world country. My condolences.
psas.pdx.edu

Offline Lar

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #40 on: 01/28/2019 08:29 pm »
More information on this former founder's GoFundMe page. Also shows the ugly, but more common than not, side of "startups".

https://www.gofundme.com/i-lost-everything-when-my-business-closed
Ugly indeed! The building flooding problems made made me think this was some third-world country. My condolences.

Just Jersey.

Sad read.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Kryten

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #41 on: 02/02/2019 01:53 pm »
 As a bitter postscript to this tale, I've found a talk summary from October last year that says that Aphelion had qualified for the Darpa Launch Challenge;
Quote
David Nagy is a founder and shareholder at Aphelion Orbitals, a small launcher company he helped found in early 2016, during his sophomore year of high school. They currently have their offices in Union City, New Jersey, and have carried out successful liquid and solid propulsion testing campaigns, as well as qualifying for the DARPA launch challenge. Alongside his corporate experience, he is also a member of multiple rocketry organizations, and has had many successful high powered rocket flights. 
Given the timing of the company's collapse they probably aren't one of the 18 mentioned by DARPA as passing the pre-qualification step, but they could be.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #42 on: 02/02/2019 05:52 pm »
They wont be last small LV startup to fall by wayside. This is one market where being first is an advantage, as more LVs come online the investor money will dry up.


Offline Kryten

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #43 on: 01/25/2022 04:35 pm »
  Aphelion have relaunched as the new company 'Aphelion Aerospace', apparently with no changes to the basic technology or vehicle design, and are currently raising money through a crowd investment site called 'startengine'. Their startengine page says that they incorporated originally as 'Pheonix Launch Systems' in March 2019.

Offline Kryten

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #44 on: 01/25/2022 05:01 pm »
 Incidentally I learned the company had been revived after seeing this video from their CEO;
 

Offline Gliderflyer

Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #45 on: 01/25/2022 11:32 pm »
It probably doesn't need to be said, but just in case anyone is unsure: NEVER do what they did in that video.
I tried it at home

Offline trimeta

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Re: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC
« Reply #46 on: 12/04/2023 05:00 am »
I was looking through various launch companies' websites, and I noticed that Aphelion Aerospace seems to have removed all references to their launch vehicle from theirs. It appears like they're now focusing on in-space propulsion. Does anyone by chance have more info?

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