Last night, I was on The Space Show with Tom Olson and host Dr. David Livingston discussing the upcoming Space Investment Summit in Chicago.

See the link above for an audio archive.

Related links

  • Event @X PRIZE  Foundation this Friday, April 30. All are invited.
  • May 4th Student Space launch in New Mexico – Public welcome to attend after approved registration.
  • Space Investment Summit 8, Chicago, May 26, 2010.
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis’ last scheduled flight scheduled for May 14, 2010.
  • Space X’s Falcon 9 debut flight scheduled for May 8th, 2010.

9 years ago today, Dennis Tito, became the first self-funded private space traveler. Happy Space Tourism Day!

The Fine Art of Angel Shooting

Rick Tumlinson

President Obama bet his legacy on the American people’s ability to innovate and create so the US remains the most vital and creative nation in the history of the world. He seeks transformation in four areas: clean energy, internet and communications, health and medicine, and (as he will address next week in Florida) catalyzing a new commercial space industry.

Meanwhile, in his zeal to regulate the devils of Wall Street, fellow Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is about to kill the most vital and exciting part of the American economic miracle in all of these areas – startups.

Getting an idea from laptop to market is scary and tricky at the best of times. It is literally the art of creating something from nothing. As one successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur said, “it is the most exciting and the scariest” moment in one’s life. You are betting everything on yourself, your idea, your plan, your sweat and your ability to make it all happen. And if it is a good idea, you can bet somebody somewhere in the world is also working on something similar – so being able to get funding and get to market fast is critical.

And thus from out of the heavens descend your angels. Aptly named, Angel investors are usually the first ones in when it comes to taking a great idea and starting a company. If small business startups are the engine that pulls us into the future, if entrepreneurs and their ideas are the fuel that powers the engine, then angel investors are the sparkplug that ignites the idea and turns their potential energy into forward motion. The first ones who believe in you and your idea, the first to lay their own funds on the line, they are often your friends and family, but also include those with wealth outside of your circle – people who don’t know you and you have to work even harder to impress – for all of them the last thing you want is to make investing more complicated than it already is.

The changes hidden in the Dodd bill have entrepreneurs and angel investors scared to death. Some call them “insane” and will “destroy Silicon Valley” let alone the other fields I mentioned. The odd thing is that although Wall Street is a true scandal of epic proportions, the main street investment world is a resounding success, with relatively few issues, and certainly not in the areas this bill purports to “fix.” It is as if someone from another country got into the bill writing process and came up with a way to sabotage the American creative dream machine.

Here are the killer clauses:

  • Startups must register with the Security Exchange Commission, then wait 4 months minimum for its review – a lifetime in the fast moving world of startups. (Keep in mind you and your employees are living hand to mouth everyday without pay.)
  • Accredited investors (who can legally invest in startups) would be limited to those with assets over $2.5 million (up from $1 million) or a personal income of $450,000 (up from $250,000). This knocks mom and dad and uncle Bill right out of the game. How many multi-millionaires in your family and close friends?
  • Removing the federal pre-emption providing a single set of national regulations and forcing startups to deal with state-by-state variations in rules. Most startups are kitchen table corporations. We have no money to pay lawyers to figure things out for us. That’s why we are looking for funds in the first place. Duh!

These plans may well be someday seen as the death knell of American leadership in the world. They will choke off innovation and wealth creation at exactly the time the president is trying to kick start it by smothering the vitality of what needs to be a dynamic and open area of creativity, while actually denying many in the middle class the chance to get involved at the ground level of any future MicroSofts or Boeings.

This is not an academic abstraction for me. I founded a startup a few years ago. We produced the world’s first commercial suit from drawing board to working prototype for less than NASA pays for one glove. This kind of innovation is exactly what the President is betting on to lower costs to taxpayers and create a new space industry here in the US. And I know my brothers and sisters out there in energy, medicine and communications are cranking out such innovations themselves everyday. But we need money, we need simplicity and we need to be able to move fast. The last thing we need is the helping hand of big brother aiming a gun at us and those who would help us change the world.

Please don’t shoot the angels Mr. Dodd, we need them to lift us into the future.

A free event in Austin, Texas on May 5, 2010 regarding the space economy.

Space is a platform for discovery and exploration. But it is also a platform for applications and services – applications in advanced communications, environmental monitoring, renewable energy and national defense.

The Space Economy Leadership Summit will provide a forum for government and private sector leaders to come together and offer new insights and perspectives on this dynamic opportunity for growth and U.S. leadership.

Join 150-200 leaders from across Texas, Washington, DC, Florida, Alabama, California and across the nation as they discuss technology and economic policy that will fundamentally transform the Space Economy. We invite you to share your thoughts and goals on how this new partnership between NASA, state government and the private sector is critical to making this economic revolution possible and our role in the world of science and discovery sustainable.

This event is  being hosted in Austin, Texas by our friends at Phillips & Company.

Space is Limited
RSVP by April 16th

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs which will be discussed at this upcoming, free meeting.  These are US government programs which fund early-stage R&D projects at small technology companies.

Free Event in Irvine, CaliforniaSaturday  April 10, 2010

Co-Sponsored by: AIAA – Los Angeles Enterprise Network and IEEE/ECSC + OCEN
Hosted by:
Moderator: Dennis Wonica, Ph.D. LaserLight Networks, Inc.

Cost Free

Location: Irvine, California

PDF flyer SBIR Event April 2010

Source: Press Release from AIAA Enterprise Chapter Los Angeles

Enterprise ChapterMar10

Enterprise Chapter of Los Angeles

Mission: To Aid Small Aerospace Businesses and Consultants to Network with Others and Present Capability to Clients
List Your Company at It is free!

Chapter Meeting: Tuesday March 23 at 6:00 pm
Location: AIAA Western Office 999 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Suite 440, El Segundo, CA Use Visitor Parking No Charge for Parking – After 7 PM Exit

Speaker: Rich Leamon, RYL Analytics and Consulting
“Innovation & New Technology Development Creating Value”

Innovation and new technology development is in itself quite challenging. When combined with commercialization, as for example in a start-up company, the principals confront another order of magnitude of significant decisions and milestones. Models for research and development through commercialization have been developed by governments and corporations; however, these models are based on risk reduction and do not emphasize how the entrepreneur can best create value. This presentation addresses value creation and how that value can be exploited, particularly in securing seed and early stage funding. Funding alternatives, for example SBIR and venture capital, are discussed and compared. Angel and venture funding availability is reviewed and the SBIR program current status presented.

Rich Leamon has 35 years of experience in perfecting technology and business strategy development for both government and commercial markets. He is a recognized expert in analytics, intellectual property, program management, and systems and functional engineering. Rich was most recently employed by Motorola where, as Fellow of the Technical Staff, he was responsible for developing and implementing a process for the creation and management of Intellectual Property and was the Motorola representative to selected university partnerships and consortia. Before joining Motorola, Rich was employed by Space Systems/Loral and Ford Aerospace where he held various space communications and sensor systems senior positions where his responsibilities included technology development, strategy & planning, systems engineering, program development, and program management. Rich started his career as a physicist for the DoD, and spent several years as a car product planner for Ford Motor. He has a B. S. Engineering Physics from the University of Kansas, an M.S. Aerospace Engineering from University of Maryland and an M. S. I. A. (MBA) from Purdue University. He is a member of several technical societies and has over a dozen technical publications.

Dinner and Networking

1. Presentation by Rich Leamon

2. Discussion Led by: Richard Denison-Co-Chair and Guido Frassinelli-Co-Chair

This Rule Breaker Is Otherworldly

Source: The Montley Fool by Tim Beyers

President Obama didn’t design his $3.8 trillion federal budget to appease (Nasdaq: AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos, but you can get that he’s one of the few who is applauding rather than jeering the president’s plan.

Bezos’ Blue Origin is one of five companies that will share $50 million in stimulus funds designed to create commercial space vehicles that NASA will use to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit. The others are Boeing (NYSE: BA), Paragon Space Development, Sierra Nevada Corp., and the United Launch Alliance between Boeing and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT).

Orbital Sciences (NYSE: ORB) and Elon Musk’s SpaceX also have contracts with NASA to develop unmanned rockets used for delivering supplies to the International Space Station, MSNBC’s Alan Boyle reports.

An out-of-this-world opportunity?
“An enhanced U.S. commercial space industry will create new high-tech jobs and spin off other new businesses that will seek to take advantage of affordable access to space,” NASA administrator Charlie Bolden said in announcing the awards.

Forget for a moment that this sounds (a) nothing like a career bureaucrat working at a government agency, and (b) nothing like the NASA that sent 12 Americans to the moon three decades ago. Is it credible to think that commercializing space could lead to jobs and a fresh burst of innovation? Could space become an industry worth investing in?

Certainly Richard Branson thinks so. He unveiled the primary craft for his Virgin Galactic space tourism venture — a sub-orbital rocket plane called SpaceShipTwo — at a press event in December.

Bezos has been more secretive about Blue Origin. What reports we have say that the eight-year-old company has been testing rockets that would return vertically to Earth from sub-orbital flights. NASA believes it can do more, and it’s awarding Blue Origin $3.7 million of the designated funds to assist with designing an orbital craft.

Original article posted here.

Source: The Economist (Print Edition)

NASA’s New Mission

A plan to overhaul America’s space agency is long overdue

IN 2004 George Bush announced a plan for America’s space agency, NASA, to return to the moon by 2020, land there, explore the surface and set up a base. The moon would then serve as a staging post for a journey to Mars. It was, unfortunately, unclear how this modest proposal would be paid for and, as work began and costs spiralled, the “vision” seemed more science fiction than science.

On February 1st, reality caught up. The back-to-the-moon programme, Constellation, with its Ares rocket (pictured), fell victim to Barack Obama’s need to find cuts. The Office of Management and Budget described it as over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest. The office also said Constellation had sucked money from other, more scientific programmes, such as robotic space exploration and Earth observation.

Much has been made of the fact that NASA will, as a consequence of Constellation’s cancellation, have to rely on private firms to send its astronauts to the international space station once the space shuttle is withdrawn. In many ways, though, this is the least interesting aspect of what is happening, for what Mr Obama proposed is actually a radical overhaul of the agency.

Full article here.

Cash can be a motivator and there are a number of competitions which are now using cash to spur technological breakthroughs. For example, the  XPRIZE Foundation lives by the tag line’ Innovation Through Competition.’

“The first X Prize was modeled after many prizes from the early 20th century that helped prod the development of air flight, including most notably the $25,000 Orteig Prize that spurred Charles Lindbergh to make his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean” (Wikiepdia). The Ansari XPRIZE was the first space focused competition which ultimately led to  26 teams competing for $10 Million. From that effort, several other prizes have been developed in and outspace. They range from a high performance lighting prize to one for a more fuel efficient car.

There’s also blog that’s covering some of these prizes called Space Prizes.

Is money the primary motivator for innovation ?

Passion might be what  drives our dreams but money, aka currency, is the energy that we sometimes need to actualize those  dreams. Cash ought not to be seen as the only motivator though. The development of new technology many times draws individuals who simply seek to solve a challenge whether it’s for intellectual curiosity or some other more practical issue.

Other competitions & Groups – Some of these groups are not yet funded. If you are an individual or organization with the means consider the opportunity to underwrite one of the prizes.

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