Author Topic: Aphelion Orbitals, LLC  (Read 9662 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.

Online 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.

Online 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.

Online 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.

Online 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?

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