Hi reddit. My name is William Baird. I am the CEO and founder of Team Phoenicia. We are an orbital payload manifesting company. We started out as a Google Lunar XPRIZE entrant and now we are specialists in commercial space launch management, making sure someone will make it to the moon. We have already manifested Pennsylvania State University's Lunar Lion team and are working on manifesting another two GLXP teams. We will also be providing launch slots for low earth orbit commercial satellites and the very small cubesats.

The Phoenicia-1 mission (our next launch: http://i.imgur.com/yZpWylw.jpg (F9 fairing used for planning purposes only)) is currently planned for Dec 2015. We will be aggregating a large number of payloads; upwards of 20 satellites plus around 60U of cubesats. Some of the cubesats will be the first ever past low earth orbit. Each U of a cubesat is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm. Cubesats come in 1U, 3U, 6U , 12U and 27U flavours. We have partnered with Adamworks, Spaceflight, Applied Defense, Space Exploration Engineering, Tyvak, Astrotek, USN and others, in order to deliver a strong and viable mission.

Among the payloads we are manifesting is the Lunar Iditarod - a micro rover challenge where teams build, qualify and then race rovers the size of a smart phone. The winning three rovers will be carried to the moon on one of the GLXP landers, where they will race again on the lunar surface. They will carry cameras that will allow us to follow the races at home. The finalists may be university students, engineering startups, your mechanically-inclined next door neighbor, and even you!

I grew up in Los Alamos, NM (and I glow in the dark). I attended New Mexico State University. I have worked for Los Alamos National Lab, Northrop Grumman, White Sands Missile Range's High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In my career I have developed control systems as a defense contractor, used and operated some of the fastest computers in the world, shot down missiles and rockets with lasers for the US military, designed and programmed robots for industrial and space exploration purposes, helped astronomers on some of the earliest exoplanets, and am now working with rockets and payloads.

Or as I like to put it..... I have worked on death rays, proto terminators, skynet and spaceships. All I need now is a tropical volcanic island. No, I am not bald and I don't put my fingers to the corner of my mouth. And I DEFINITELY don't wear a cape.

My Proof:





Comments: 207 • Responses: 87  • Date: 

djleo12 karma

Are you planning to put a Bitcoin node on Mars? If so, how can the Internet reach there?

phoenicianrockets7 karma

I'd be very interested in doing a bitcoin funded or themed challenge. If there's a sponsor willing to come forward, I'd be happy to attempt it.

As for Mars, the internet won't reach unless we build a node. You need the USN or DSN (deep space network).

djleo5 karma

Would it be more feasible to land a Bitcoin node on the moon or to put one in orbit?

phoenicianrockets6 karma

Its entirely possible.

I would actually aim for placing one in orbit. Btcoin seems to be very business oriented. Why not a cubesat competition for bitcoin which must be funded (and gets bonus points for utilizing in the business) by bitcoin?

kukkuzejt3 karma

Next step, a bitcoin ATM.

felloutboy5 karma

How long would the actual journey be to Mars?

phoenicianrockets6 karma

With the current technology, around 9 months.

djleo2 karma

I found there is a bit sat project already underway if you'd like to team up with them.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

Yes, but they are doing a very focused effort. I even know the folks they are contracting with (Daniel et al at DSI) to study the design.

However, I think a bitcoin themed challenge ought to leave open to the entrants' creativity the possibilities. Why limit to just being a node for the block chain?

djleo2 karma

Agreed - would be awesome to have a pay to play for racing micro rovers. I don't know how you'd stop people trying to crash them into each other though.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

Either you make lots of them for your mission or you take out an insurance policy. ;)

(and, yes, insurance is a major part of space activities and it can be extremely expensive)

danielravennest3 karma

NASA has already started testing the "interplanetary internet", because today spacecraft and planets end up behind the Sun and out of communication. Relays would help.

However the communications time to Mars can be longer than 10 minutes, which makes it too far to be a regular node (relaying transactions). You would be more of an end point, since your block chain would always be behind.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

very behind.

The interplanetary internet is more an R&D project at this point. They are using the DSN for everything and its definitely not IP based. :)

Mikeydoes6 karma

How long do you think it will be until it will be affordable to put the common man into orbit?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

about 20 years. You need to build rockets which are reusable like aircraft. That's actually pretty hard. SpaceX is working on it as is Blue Origin and others.

escherbach5 karma

Are the GLXP landers one-way missions or do they come back to earth?

If they're stuck there, will it be possible to leave the cameras on the moon operating as web-cams (maybe using solar-power?)

phoenicianrockets7 karma

The GLXP missions are one way. Its more than twice as hard to come back technology wise.

Unfortunately, the landers are not likely to survive the lunar night (they /may/) but it'll be brutal. Yutu has been having a hard time of it and their budget is quite large.

1923and19395 karma

When was the last time that humans have sent something to or visited the moon? Do you feel as if this is a historic event?

phoenicianrockets6 karma

The Chinese landed Yutu (a rover) on the Moon in December 2013.

The United States has several satellites around it. We crashed GRAIL into the surface not too long ago and LCROSS as well. Applied Defense and Space Exploration Engineering both participated in those missions and are now part of my team for the Phoenicia-1 launch.

This is going to be historic. Not only will this be the first nongoverment to land on the Moon, but will set up a business which will allow repeated visits to the Moon.

This time we're going back. And staying.

Destructor17013 karma

You rock. Not just a little bit, either.

phoenicianrockets5 karma

ty, but I just try to roll with it. ;)

ORZZZZZ4 karma

What life of common man will be like after immigration to the moon?

phoenicianrockets4 karma

It depends on how the colony was laid out. Its likely to be very busy and look a lot like how Antarctic researchers and their support personnel live.

ORZZZZZ4 karma

How about the food? And where will they live?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

They will have a mix of food they grow on their own and for a long time, will require resupply from earth. Yes, they're gonna get astronaut food. Remember, this is going to be more like an Antarctic base for a long time. At least until we have people who move there and stay.

They're going to live underground. There may be domes they can come to look out - something like a larger version of the cool 'dome' window on the ISS - but for the most part it will be underground.

ORZZZZZ3 karma

Grow food on their own? I don't think ecological cycle can be set.

phoenicianrockets2 karma

They do test growths in the space station. THere are what are called 'salad modules' NASA AMes and others are perfecting to fly to the Moon and elsewhere.

I'd LOVE for a sponsor to step forward to fly a cubesat sized module to the Moon which would grow the first lettuce or flowers on the moon. It could even be a challenge...

ORZZZZZ2 karma

Salad modules? Did it end up in failure? BTW, are you interested in Turing test?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

They're still testing them. They are planning to fly one on a GLXP team.

Turing test? Somewhat. I'm not convinced AI is as simple as that. Likewise, I am pretty sure we're not going to get run over by the machines based on my experiences with them: they require so much TLC, a baby is easy by comparison and I'm a Dad of two kids!

ORZZZZZ2 karma

It's a bit difficult to understand your last sentence...What does it mean?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

haha. You a turing bot? (just kidding)

Supercomputers require more work to keep running than taking care of a baby.

Klaus_Goldfish1 karma

Lettuce would be hard. If we're talking cubesat, there are at best two weeks of "growing season", and that's if you land at the dawn terminator. Maybe sprouts, or, for tradition's sake, Arabidopsis thalliana?

Thermal management would also be hard. If we assume a 10 K temperature range for "acceptable" growth, how do you hold that in a 5x5x15cm volume? Specifically, how can you keep the plant alive on the pad, in transit, and landed?


I think I have a project for the intern, he's a space nut. Do you have any space left for a smallish cubesat?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

There is plenty of space on the lander. However, we'd need to do fund raising for this or wrap it up as a challenge: the Iditarod is largely self funded with a sponsorship fee.

A suggestion might be to do it in a 2 or 3U space and have batteries and lights for the lunar night.

Lettuce was just me being flippant.

Klaus_Goldfish1 karma

You'd need about 15x5x5cm for a nice little Arabidopsis sprout, including substrate (probably a sponge type thing, to avoid floating soil shenanigans). With 5cm of insulation space, and no air to worry about... And life support for a sprout is stupid simple. Light, warmth, done.

Is there any way to get some technical data, IE the expected acceleration during the mission, how much power the lander can provide (does one need to bring their own power), etc.?

We'd try to raise the funds locally. If you don't mind, I'll get back to you on this in a few days.

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Let me talk to PennState and the others. PSU is the likely lead.

Cost per kilo is fairly high, but not, erm, astronomical.

Mikeydoes3 karma

Aside from Elon Musk-- who is influential in getting people interested in space?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Jeff Bezos is. Sorta. he owns Blue Origin. Another space company.

Fulvio553 karma

How do you deploy a bunch of cubesats into different orbits from one payload? Or do they stay in a cloud?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

The Phoenicia-1 mission will go up to 600 km sun sync orbit. Once we are there, we will release some of the cubesats. Some will stay, as you say, in a cloud. Others will not because the release mechanism, while utilizing the Cal Poly/Tyvak PPOD, will be somewhat different this time.

Likewise, some of the cubesats will be released after we have the upper stage of the rocket relight and push the remainder of the payload stack onto a trajectory to the Moon! (what we call Trans Lunar Injection or TLI). Those cubesats will swing by the Moon and possibly even go interplanetary (if they have propulsion).

montemonte3163 karma

Do you think the U.S. government has a "secret space program" that the public does not know about?

phoenicianrockets8 karma

yes and no.

Do they do secret launches into space? No. Stealth in space is almost impossible.

However, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO, the spysat folks) do play games with their sats, move them around and even seem to have sats which release smaller ones. What are they doing? That's secret.

Likewise, the US Air Force has the X-37. its an unmanned, reusable space shuttle. It moves from orbit to orbit and can stay up for long periods. What is it doing? That's secret, too.

VeryCharity3 karma

So what is one of the funny things (that you can tell us) that has happened on the way to the launchpad?

phoenicianrockets4 karma

When I actually got to play the "Why yes, I am a rocket scientist" card and the prove it.

Rocket science is held up as one of the hardest things out there at least as a metaphor in the english language. Its a lot of fun when you can say you actually are one when someone is claiming something: its more for laughs and gags though. Rockets are very well understood beasties relative to, say, the quantum foam.

Another funny story is that I took my daughter to the machine shop where we were bending metal (as the aerospace geeks call it). Someone there insisted she play model with the rocket. And did. It was funny for my then 4 year old to be posing with a lunar lander.

Mindlayr3 karma

How do you feel about Elon Musk and what he is doing? Do you have any plans for cooperative missions?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

We're very likely to work with SpaceX. That's all I am going to say. ;)

felloutboy3 karma

Would you rather deploy 100 cubesat sized hubbles, or one hubble sized cubesat?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

I'd like a mix of both. They are not mutually exclusive. Some things are better done with larger payloads (lunar or martian landers, frex). Others might be better with cubesats (looking at an asteroid)

Xboxben3 karma

How long do you think it will be until we have a moon base? And do you think it's practical to have robots or some type of unmanned machine build it for us

phoenicianrockets4 karma

I suspect we'll have a Moon base around 2025 to 2030.

It may not be an American one. It may not be a governmental one at all.

fortranately3 karma

I am an early BTC adopter and someone who dabbles a tiny bit in other coins like Dogecoin. I am a big fan of the Dogecoin community even though I don't invest in the coin, however, and applaud their initiative with the Lunar Iditarod.

I would like to sponsor one of the competitive teams. Can you put me in touch with a team that needs funding?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

More than happy to.

Would you be open to sponsoring multiple ones? The entries are pretty small.

merrderber2 karma

As someone who is considered pretty young and curious, what did you do in life to get you at this point?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

I was curious. I followed my curiosities. Lasers, supercomputers, rockets, astronomy, etc. were all things I've been interested in. However, I didn't dabble: I worked my rumpus off.

Go to school, but don't limit yourself to the normal path. Try things. Get involved in things. See what you can and cannot figure out on your own. The library and internet are amazing places to learn. Learn to teach yourself. And then apply it.

And DO NOT only be interested in technical things: history, art, people, etc are all sources of inspiration for what you will do.

merrderber3 karma

Thank you for answering! It's so refreshing to hear people say follow your curiosities. A lot of the time I get told to pursue what will make me the most successful and sometimes that isn't exactly what I find interesting. I hope you have a good day! :)

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Don't neglect the basics (they often help with the curiosities).

JTswift2 karma

Tell us...how much Kerbal do you play on a daily basis?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

none. no time for it. :D

Daymanahaaah2 karma

Buzz Aldrin is a big supporter of getting people permanently on Mars, Do you think a Mars, maned base is possible in our life times? If so what would the benefits of this be? And if it happened 5 years from now, would you volunteer?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

A manned Mars base is possible. Right now its a question of whether or not its a national priority at the costs we face right now.

I think over the next ten years the costs are going to come down. Then we're likely to see it become more affordable and then actually happen.

When folks talk about it being x dollars per pound (or kilo) to space, they are talking raw rocket costs. There is also the cost of mission support, logistics (like integrating the spacecraft and fueling it! Not the same as the rocket), the costs of running the mission (DSN or USN time) or even insurance (OMG don't go there!). These make it considerably more expensive.

Daymanahaaah2 karma

Thanks for your answer. Could you guess at the cost right now? Humor me? Also, would you go if it were 5 years out?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

If you stated in five years, given what I know, I'd hazard you would need something on the order of $20 to 50 billion.

This is for a full base, one which which could survive if a missed logistics launch happened.

That's not to walk on Mars. but to live there for a prolonged time.

Daymanahaaah2 karma

Wow, that'a actually less than I thought. Thanks for doing the AMA.

phoenicianrockets1 karma

more than welcome.

JyroBlade2 karma

What legal permissions do you need to drop satellites into orbit or land on the moon? I'm sure you need clearance from the country you are launching from in order to actually get off the ground, but past that, who is policing what happens actually in space?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

You do. You actually have to make the FCC happy (space radio license) and the FAA (for the rocket). These folks also permit reentry and require space debris mitigation plans.

There are international bodies which dictate who gets what slot in geostationary and geosynchronous orbits.

As for the Moon? NASA has a set of heritage rules so folks will not damage the Apollo and other sites. They are based off the laws of the sea adapted for space: landers kick up enough material that some of the dust and gravel will actually travel a significant way around the moon before impacting again. That would destroy an Apollo lander, or at least minimally damage it due to the gravel sized chunks which would it the landers and equipment.

IntendoPrinceps2 karma

Do you need a pilot? I was selected as a pilot and completed Air Force ROTC, only to be disenrolled on a medical technicality. I've got specialists and flight docs that say I'm healthy, along with the FAA. This way, you get a young, moldable pilot without bad habits that you can turn into a company man.

But seriously, thank you so much for everything you and your company are doing to further commercial spaceflight! I grew up in Space City (Houston) and aviation has been my entire life; nothing makes me happier than seeing space become more accessible.

My serious question is this: what do you believe to be the milestone that, when reached, will "awaken" the fledgling commercial spaceflight industry?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

as for pilots, alas, we're not there yet. Check in about ten years. :( This stuff takes time.

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Which commercial spaceflight are you talking about? I don't mean that flippantly either.

Are you talking about human spaceflight? Which case we need a destination. The ISS is a little too small. And we also need a reduction in price (SpaceX claims with their fly back tech they can get it down to $5 to $7 million).

if you mean general satellite commercial spaceflight, then its arrived with SpaceX and (shortly) Orbital Sciences/ATK.

If you mean deep space, we're still going to wait unless we can get cubesat sized probes done and the law wrt space property rights settled.

IntendoPrinceps1 karma

I was referring to both human spaceflight and general satellite launch reaching the point where the majority of cargo and ferrying is accomplished by the private sector. What do you think the most likely destination is going to be once the reduction in price is achieved?

In regards to space property rights affecting deep space commercial efforts, are you talking about mineral/material extraction rights or the translation of terrestrial terra nullius to apply to orbital bodies in space (i.e. the ability of a corporation or entity to "claim" political jurisdiction over a given orbital body)? I think both pose very interesting legal issues, and could see how either could potentially inhibit the viability of deep space exploration.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

The general launch industry is already there. SpaceX is being rather disruptive already. O-ATK will be shortly. They're more conservative, but coming along nicely (re: second cargo mission to ISS).

We need a price reduction for the launch (probably with SSTO) and an 'easy' destination. Maybe Bigelow will do so, but...we'll see.

Right now there is no law applicable to space property. Many argue we ought to use the law of the sea. There are some benefits to that, but there are many which are also concerned because there is no way to exert authority over anything: how do you file a claim on an asteroid? How do you enforce it? Are the minerals or water extracted really yours? Or...?

IntendoPrinceps2 karma

These are very exciting problems to have. Imagine telling someone watching the moon landing that in fifty years we would be codifying property rights for asteroids! Is there an organization that is addressing these concerns globally, or is this currently under the purview of NASA and domestic lawmakers/regulatory agencies?

Thank you very much all of your insightful answers, and I wish you the best on next year's launch and cubesat deployment.

phoenicianrockets2 karma

There are those which do advocacy for space and whatnot, but there's no high body which takes on space property rights as yet.

If you're truly interested in space, start a Iditarod team. or try working out a cubesat project. Aim for turning a profit though.

thank you and the best to you.

oxbowlake2 karma

we are specialists in commercial space launch management...

How many rockets have you launched so far?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

No orbital shots yet.

We've fired ones on the ground and even sold engines.

This will be first orbital mission. Folks on our team have flown multiple times with multiple missions (unmanned missions!), but as an aggregate as this team we have not done so.

oxbowlake2 karma

oh cool. What rockets are you going to use for this moon mission?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

We're going to go with a commercial provider. This would either be SpaceX or the United Launch Alliance or Orbital ATK. We have actually done the contract and statement of work, but the company has asked us not to say we are with them just yet. Since they control access to space, I'll do as they ask. ;)

oxbowlake2 karma

Wow. Rather daunting set of goals. A soft landing on the moon. It'll be your first ever launch, you arent sure what the payload is exactly, and you dont have the launch vehicle nailed down yet.

And you're less than a year and half away from launch.

I wish you luck because it sounds like me playing Kerbal Space Program.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

I am not landing on the Moon.

PennState and the other GLXP teams are.

I am providing the launch so they can get there. A launch is too expensive for any of these payloads if they go it alone.

dvvb2 karma

Do you think we will colonize the moon in the next 25 years?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

I think there will be a moonbase, but it will be something like an Antarctic base.

Mars is likely to have a base within that same time frame... at least if Elon Musk gets his way!

sun952 karma

Can you give a general outline of the process of going from team to company? I'm an engineering student who has led several robotics teams and I plan on joining the space industry. How did you begin liasing with the various space agencies? I'm Canadian, we don't have much in the way of a space program (although the arm is impressive). I will most definitely be assembling a team for that rover contest, sounds right in my wheelhouse

phoenicianrockets2 karma

We kept the team as a nonprofit and formed up separate company. We signed over the IP and whatnot contractually from the team to the company. We mostly, but not completely, laterally moved everyone across. Some did not want to commit to running a company full time rather than pursuing the x prize. I'd suggest a lawyer to help: it covers more bases.

I encourage you to form a team and compete in the challenge. Its actually easy to do the basic parts of the challenge, but a little tough to build a space rated (or at least survivable) rover, but it can be worked up to.

plutowasaplanet2 karma

I'm a university student studying engineering. A group of us are planning to enter the micro rover race challenge. Can you talk about the race and give us any tips?

We are also thinking of using crowdfunding to cover our entry fees. Is this permissible?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

Tips. Watch your mass. Always plan for smaller than your mass budget. You're likely to grow by 20%.

You are more than allowed to crowd source your funding. Remember crowd sourcing delays when you get the money though. Make sure you accurately budget and then work in a serious buffer. Things always cost more than you think. It'd really be disappointing for all those you sourced from for you to fall short by a couple hundred dollars and their $ to have been wasted.

(Pluto still is a Gimli sized planet!)

plutowasaplanet3 karma

Thank you for the response. We have been talking about how mass is the critical element (pardon the pun), so the 20 percent is noted.

What can we use to test how our rover races on the lunar surface? We are located in a desert area and plan to test it in a dry river wash. Would another kind of surface be more moon like?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Regolith is VERY abrasive: it probably horked Yutu's motors. Very fine glass shards are not far off. With a lot of safety that might be the closest you can come. (I don't mean safety glass either). Wear breathing protection! We'll be providing it at the challenge.

Also go to /r/dogepollo for more info. And watch for twitter posts and posts here on reddit by Very Charity. They are helping us with the challenge.

Buzzed_Aldrin1 karma


phoenicianrockets3 karma

That's approximately right. By the time its finished, the DogeSled will have passed environmentals for spaceflight.

phoenicianrockets3 karma

We have this thread: http://redd.it/2afpj2

I'd suggest you poke around both at /r/Dogepollo and /r/dogecoin, but possibly in the robotics and space subs.


I like space, can I have a job? Does it matter that I'm in Australia?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

Unfortunately, I'm not hiring.

BUT! If you email me, I am more than willing to brainstorm on how to do a business related to space.

Fulvio551 karma

Will you be putting a log of this AMA on the spacecraft?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

That's a thought. lol.

Fulvio551 karma

I seriously wonder about some things, knowwhatImean? ;)

phoenicianrockets1 karma

next question

VeryCharity1 karma

MoonText1 is coming soon, as you well know ;)

phoenicianrockets1 karma

yep. And many others things...

Fulvio551 karma

Do you include anything of your own in the payload, or is it all for other parties?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

This time around, just everyone else.

I'll do something for my group on the Phoenicia-2 mission.

pm_me_Your_Titsplz1 karma

Whats the coolest thing you have worked on? Is there projects that you are working on that we cant know about?

phoenicianrockets3 karma

There are things I can't talk about. Some were pretty darned cool.

However, while at WSMR's HELSTF, we used lasers - frickin laser beams! - to blow stuff up.

OTOH, I've worked on computers which are thousands of times faster than your desktop. or even more than your tablet. (I for one do not fear our robotic overlords! For they will crash and burn in about 30 minutes if they get uppity)

Or when I worked with the astronomers on PSR 1908+009a. I played with data about one of the first exoplanets with data coming from arecibo!

Fulvio551 karma

Do you have contingency plans if the mission is underweight? If you don't have the full complement of cubesats for example? A standby list of alternative packages perhaps?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

We'll be going to universities with special pricing if we need to.

By all indications, we're not going to be. We'll still get some educational payloads even so.

Fulvio551 karma

How tight is the financing? Is there much wiggle room for the educational stuff? They're not reknowned for deep pockets after all... ;)

phoenicianrockets1 karma

We have budgeted in the educational stuff. We want to make sure there are chances for students for orbital cubesats at least.

Past LEO (low earth orbit) its a LOT harder to do for educational.

Fulvio551 karma

In a battle between the engineers and accountants, do the accountants always win? ;)

phoenicianrockets1 karma

80% of the time.

CommanderObama1 karma

Do you have any "space alien type" UFO stories?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

alas. no, eldar of the stars here.

Fulvio551 karma

Do you use Dogecoins yourself? Bitcoins?

phoenicianrockets1 karma


CommanderObama1 karma


phoenicianrockets1 karma

Only if you send her as ashes with supporting dox stating she had a natural death. Otherwise, you're looking for Soprano Launch Services based out of New Jersey.

CommanderObama1 karma

No one is supposed to know about this. It'll be our secret. Now back to normal questions. Do you know John A Chapman?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Well, really, go see SLS. You want their Sleep with the Star Fish package.

AFAIK, no, I don't know JAC.

RGregoryClark1 karma

Hello. Congratulations on your progress towards the Google X prize. Best of luck towards success. I was wondering, some NASA engineers have proposed a Project M to send Robonaut to the Moon, though it has not been selected by NASA to take-place. Would your lander have the capability to send the 125 kg Robonaut to the lunar surface?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Actually, we are no longer in the GLXP.

Could The Wind at Dawn landed a 125 kg robot on the Moon? No, honestly, it could not. Its payload was restricted to 20 kg.

Nick2461 karma

So, UFOs and ETs....Have you seen any?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Have I seen things in the sky I didn't know what they were? Yup. Aliens? Nope. nope. alas. no space eldar.

Nick2461 karma

Well thank you for answering my question! Can I re-ask it differently? Do you know of any colleagues that might have seen something, or know of something, that maybe changed or challenged the outlook on our position as the most advanced life form in the galaxy or possibly the universe?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Not really. In fact, space has looked awfully empty locally. As far as we can tell, there's no civilizations within 60 light years.

As far as religion, I've known colleagues who have had religious experiences, but I don't think you're referring to that.

Nick2461 karma

tend to think they are one and the same. I don't want to dust off my tin foil hat, but I have one more question.

You say 60 light years, and I have heard that before too, but what are you looking for to determine 60 light years and are you only looking for light from another planet? This is part of the same question but What makes you give that number? Did you possible find out we, as humans, collectively explored everywhere as far out as 60 light years?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

There's no sign of them. Space is mostly empty and civilizations are not quiet. Most likely they'd be radio loud, but even if they are not, there would be other signs (odd signatures in their stellar output). There's also no lasers, or potentially industrious changes to solar systems either.

We have collectively gazed at everything which might have a civilization within 60 ly. We don't see any signs of anything later than 19th century. It might be there is something earlier than that. However, we'd be the elder race then.

Most likely, I'd say there's nothing within 5000 light years which is as advanced as we are.

HearstDoge1 karma

Few questions:
Who is running mission control from time of launch, forward?
If you were competing in this challenge (the dogesled competition), what would you consider to be the number one obstacle/problem to solve?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

ADS, SEE and (probably) Logyx with the launcher provider doing the rocket control.


phoenicianrockets1 karma

Hardest part of the Iditarod is keeping the mass down. Its a perennial problem for aerospace.

CWVet1 karma

So, what is the funny thing that happened on the way to the launch pad?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

How I ended up not where I expected. That's funny.

I'm helping others go to the Moon. And making it into a business.

I was in it for the glory and challenge.

Consider: whatever you leave on the moon will last. It will last past the last breath of the last human upon this earth. It will last long past the Pyramids being ground into dust. It will last billions of years until at long last the sun becomes a red giant and consumes the earth and moon.

That is as close as you and I can come to eternal glory in this life.

Yet, I am not doing this now. But rather to make sure someone can.

And facilitating that is both my glory...and my amusement.

watterson8151 karma

What's been the biggest "that was a close one" moment of your career, where something could have gone horribly wrong but didn't?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

White Sands has LOTS of UXO (un exploded ordinance, aka bombs which didn't go off). I've stumbled across that before.

Likewise, White Sands has these EVIL imported antelope from Africa (they're called Oryx). Someone back in the 1960s thought it would be great to start a herd and charge for big game hunting licenses to raise money by the state. The number of times I've had near death experiences with those things...oy.

There are others. They're not ones I can talk about.

All of those are the reason why I have NOT had experiences like that with rockets. A small rocket like a lander (300 kg +/-) has enough explosive potential energy...to do very bad things.

OneNineTwo1 karma

Can I go to the moon?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Not yet. That's a really hard problem and cost the equivalent of over $10 billion per person that last time folks walked on the Moon.

You can build a micro rover for the Lunar Iditarod. That will go if you're one of the top three teams.

Or, if you can find the funding, we can get you another payload of your choice to the Moon.

OneNineTwo1 karma

Can't you just stick me in with the payloads? I don't mind if it's a bit cramped. I'll pack trail mix for the trip.

phoenicianrockets1 karma

If I could do that, I'd be in there before you. :P

OneNineTwo2 karma

If I die, can you send my ashes to the moon? Keep in mind your response is legally binding and I will be updating my will shortly.

phoenicianrockets1 karma

For a price.

Fulvio551 karma

Isn't that already an available, albeit expensive, service someone's offering?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

There is a brit company, but its not to orbit, iirc.

bleepbloopwubwub1 karma

What technology could give us the best chance of travelling deep into space to explore other solar systems?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Honestly, the NIF: National Ignition Facility.

We're going to need fusion rockets to get there.

Theory51 karma

Does your corporation have a need for Information Security personnel beyond the normal "secure and protect our network infastructure" type deal?

And what compliance is required by the government for the work you do (in terms of INFOSEC), since you basically design and build what could be missiles?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Not allowed to talk missiles. Sorry. :(

My team has a person who deals with IT Security, but, honestly, again, not something which I can talk about too much: we interact with too many other facilities and they'll get upset if we disclose too much.

Theory51 karma

Thanks for the prompt reply!

I wasn't asking for state secrets! Haha. I was wondering more along the lines of Industry and Federal regulations! Like at my job I do industry regulation for PCI-DSS (Payment Card Idustry Data Security Standards).

phoenicianrockets2 karma


You'd be surprised who talks you up for what. Social engineering, the hackers call it. The spies have been doing it for longer. And it normally involves someone cute. ;)

NASA has their own standards for IT. Lord help us all.

Theory52 karma

Yup, social engineering is one of my favorite topics. "People hacking" some call it. But malware analysis takes the cake for me (I do it for fun)!

Keep doing what you are doing, your company and yourself are doing what I have only dreamed of and read about in Science Fiction. You are helping to forward all of humanity, our technical knowlege, and pushing the boundries of our known universe!

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Should I start scrubbing my computer now? ;)


Dump the malware and go get a emotiv or similar headset. That's one of the new frontiers for computers...

anttonoo1 karma

How much delta-v is required to get to the Moon? And how much is required to get to Mars?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

Wikipedia actually has a good page on it:


However, its not 100% accurate. The honest answer is that it depends on the alignment of the planets (or moon) and where you are launching from, etc.

Freightguy1 karma

What do you think of the 5% leeway Massachusetts has on aggregate payloads?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

To be honest, I hadn't heard of it.

I'm a west coaster.

Educate me?

MrB1ond31 karma

How much would it cost to send an orca to the moon?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

That'd be a whale of a tale, sending an orca to the moon!

About $500 million, raw and no spacesuit.

Crazyleprechaun871 karma

What is your favorite part about your job?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

Well, maybe its ... THE MOON?! ;)

If you stop and think about it, its freakin awesome to be working on a business which allows me to get us back to the moon. Regularly and far cheaper.

Crazyleprechaun871 karma

Will you be able to personally go or just robots and electronics?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

This time just robots and electronics. That will be the case for at least four or more missions.

Crazyleprechaun871 karma

Ok but in the near future will humans be back to the moon?

phoenicianrockets2 karma

If we wanted to, we could get there in 5 years. I know a few people at NASA who wish the Chinese would announce and then start showing they are going to go to the Moon. We could be there in a relative flash.

My bet is someone places people on the Moon about 2023.

Crazyleprechaun871 karma

Ok cool thanks for this AMA.

phoenicianrockets2 karma

You're more than welcome. :)

Homestaff17-1 karma

Have you yourself ever been to space?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

not yet. I want to and have wanted to since I was a kid.

This funny movie made by some guy who lives in Marin county convinced me when I was 3 or 4 I absolutely had to go. When I found out space was even cooler than in the movies, well...

Homestaff170 karma

Surely with films like Star Wars and the new Star Treks, your last sentence surely cannot be true?!!

phoenicianrockets1 karma

The real thing is waaaaaaaaay cooler than SW and ST.

We have our own very bizarre solar system.

Then look at the exoplanets being found. The first ones were found around pulsars (DEAD FRICKIN STARS, MAN!). The next ones were Jupiter sized planets in places we didn't think they ought to be: some with "year" orbits one or two days long. Now we're find so many odd and interesting exoplanets, the universe is way more imaginative than Star Wars and Star Trek. its a whole lot more awesome.

BC4U1 karma

It seams we always hear about these cool discoveries, but how hard would it be to setup a storage room of satellites waiting to be sent out to these remote locations for further observation? I mean every time we find a potential earth like planet, we should deploy one towards it... No?

phoenicianrockets1 karma

To quote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Space is Big. REALLY REALLY BIG.

If we all but bankrupted ourselves to build a starship to go to an exoplanet (and it would! its really expensive!), it would still take a minimum of 50 years to get there.

As for in our own solar system, it could be done and that's part of what we hope to accomplish. The Discovery program dropped the price of doing space probes from billions to 100s of millions. Our hope and plan is to beef up cubesats and 'commercial' landers enough we can drop space missions down to 10s of millions of dollars.

This is even being done for looking at exoplanets with MIT's exoplanet telescope which is the size of a 3U cubesat (30 cm long by 10 cm wide by 10 cm high).