Starting to Come Back Up For Air

Sorry about the lightblogging.  I’ve had a long year the past two or three months…  I’ll give more details on Altius-specific stuff on the ASM blog (including some eye-candy) when I get done with a Space Angels Network pitch in Palo Alto this week, and the SEDS SpaceVision 2011 conference next week, but here’s a quick overview of some of what I’ve been up to since I last blogged:

  • Updated our business plan based on feedback from the Newspace Business Plan Competition, and created a company profile on Gust.com/Angelsoft (sorry guys, for accredited investors only).
  • We were able to close a deal with Lockheed Martin to use a really nice thermal-vac test chamber for testing our Sticky Boom™ gripper system as part of the SBIR Phase I effort.
  • In about a month from closing that deal we designed, fabricated, installed, and ran tests with a thermal-vac test rig in the chamber that simulated capturing the Mars Sample Return Orbiting Sample canister over a wide range of temperatures.  Net result was that over 63 tests, all tests delivered sufficient pull-off force to have captured and retained the MSR “OS”.  Forces near ambient temperatures were on average over 10lb, using the same gripper we used for the Zero-G flight tests in May.
  • Also improved the pad to gripper attachment method so the pads don’t pull-off accidentally.  Makes it so our demo unit can actually pick up the hollow stainless steel sphere we used in 1g, horizontally, without any problems.  Which is pretty darned cool when you realize this is using the same static cling forces you get from rubbing a balloon on your head.
  • We also wrote about 160 pages worth of SBIR, BAA, and commercial proposal, final reports, and other related documents.  Basically did about a Master’s Thesis worth of writing in about a month…which brings back bad memories of my actual Master’s Thesis…
  • In the process discovered a design concept that might enable us to do Sticky Booms™ with reaches in excess of 100-200m, and even started finding some potential terrestrial applications for some of the technologies that go into making Sticky Boom™ work.
  • Did our first pitch at an actual Angel Investor meeting down in Houston on September 22nd, put on by the Space Angels Network and the Phillips & Company.  While there we also got to meet with several companies in the area, and got to visit Space Center Houston.  Really enjoyed the Skylab and Saturn V exhibits.
  • And managed to get a few really good interviews that resulted in some pretty cool press for Altius this month (AvWeek, Tech Review, PopSci, and others).
  • Discovered Pandora.com
  • Started weightlifting on a regular basis with a friend, who you might know from the Space Business Blog who recently moved out to the area.  I’m still definitely in the transition from wuss to wimp, but I’ve turned the corner (in a good way) on an exercise routine for the first time in my life.
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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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4 Responses to Starting to Come Back Up For Air

  1. Dave Huntsman says:

    “We were able to close a deal with Lockheed Martin to use a really nice thermal-vac test chamber for testing our Sticky Boom™ gripper system as part of the SBIR Phase I effort.”

    Jon, that alone is impressive for what is just a Phase I SBIR. And, congrats on all the great media exposure!

  2. ken anthony says:

    What wimps. Neglecting the free ice cream because you’ve got serious things to do?

    That sticky boom is cool. Congrats.

  3. Paul says:

    Jon,
    I was wondering if you guys looked at the Spiralift when you were hunting down possible booms.

    http://www.hizook.com/blog/2010/11/07/spiralift-ultimate-telescoping-linear-actuator

    “Started weightlifting on a regular basis”

    It’s all the videos, isn’t it?

  4. Paul,
    Someone had previously sent me a link to them. They’ve got a really cool technology, but at least from looking at it, it’s probably much stronger in compressive loads than tensile or bending loads. And for most of what I’m looking at, we’re talking booms of over 10m long (in some cases as long as 100-200m!), so I’m not sure if it’s a good fit for most of the applications we’re looking at. But thanks for the reminder, it may have a place somewhere.

    As for the weightlifting, it was more just that running a startup is a high-stress job, and I’ve been in poor enough shape for a long time as an engineer, that I decided I wanted to do something to increase my odds of living long enough to take that stroll on the Moon with Jonny that I promised him a year or two ago in Tehachapi.

    ~Jon

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