3. ASIís STRATEGIC PLAN
Business Plan Summary
Acoustic Shaping Inc.
School of Aerospace Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology
ASI will lead the space-based manufacturing industry of the 21st century, continually reducing the costs associated with space exploration, habitation, and development.
ASI will provide:
At $5,000 per lb. to Low Earth Orbit, the cost of shipping components and machine tools from Earth is a large obstacle to the human venture into space. ASI provides a solution to this problem: manufacturing using sound waves to form surface shapes in microgravity, from granular or liquid-state materials. ASI will offer non-contact, flexible manufacturing of components to Mars explorers and to the construction business in the Solar System. Initial operations located on the International Space Station (ISS) in low Earth Orbit will serve near-term customers on ISS, using material shipped from Earth. As revenue and markets develop, the primary manufacturing facility will be located in lunar orbit to help build the second ISS, and start lunar mining. As this market develops the main manufacturing facility will be built and located at the Mars orbital station. Material brought from lunar and asteroid
Orbiting Space Station [MarsSociety,1998]
mines will be turned into precision-formed components at ASI. Products will be delivered by aerodynamic decelerators to customer sites on the planetary surface, and carried on Cycler Shuttles to customer sites in GEO / LEO / lunar orbit. From these beginnings, ASI will lead the space-faring construction business in the Solar System.
Space-related business accounts for over $121B/yr in 1998. Currently, all items are shipped from Earth, at costs-to-orbit of over $5K per lb. The International Space Station alone is expected to grow to an Earth-weight of over 1 million lbs. by 2004. Demand for Space-based construction is projected to be $20B/yr in 2005, rising to $500B/yr by 2020 as human space exploration progresses. ASI's role in this market is both as market enabler and as supplier. ASI's customer base consists of two types of industries:
As Space Commercialization proceeds, these firms will transition to serve the developing commercial markets on Earth for the development and habitation of space, with attendant increases in size.
Examples of ASI-built products are:
core technology is the Acoustic Shaping technology proven by our team in
over 200 parabolas of microgravity flight on NASA's KC-135. Our core competence
includes the depth and breadth of technical/ business/marketing capabilities
from schools and research labs at Georgia Tech, one of the premier technological
institutes of the world. Access to Georgia Tech translates into a complete
capability across the life-cycle of this technology.
Artistís concept of a potential Mars mission, from NASA Web pages, showing connected pressure vessels to form habitation modules. From [Mars Society, 1998 ]
These Earth-based facilities offer complete concept-to-test capability, spanning such areas as System Design and Life-Cycle Analysis/Simulation/Optimization, Booster technology, Hypersonic Controls, Spacecraft Attitude Control, Re-entry Aerothermodynamics, Acoustics, Modeling & Simulation, and aerodynamic glide/ decelerator technologies.
ASI seeks partnerships with the entities leading Space Exploration: NASA, the large aerospace companies Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, as well as a leading technological university, Georgia Tech. The ASI team in particular, and the Georgia Tech schools in general, are models of the future engineering environment envisioned by NASA, our project teams integrating diverse technical disciplines as well as people from all parts of the world.
Glimpse of an ASI Manufacturing Facility
At the core of the space-based Phase-Controlled Acoustic Shaping Technology (PCAST) facility are 10 Acoustic Chamber modules of various sizes, with up to 25 individually programmable speaker systems each. The chambers are pressurized with a suitable gas such as nitrogen. Raw material is received at the orbiting station and converted to the desired particle size or liquid characteristics in a preprocessing plant. The temperature and pressure are brought to the needed levels, and a pre-selected sound field is imposed. The material is fed into the chamber along with the binder component, so that the mixture solidifies along the desired surfaces; some processes will use solar / microwave heating or rapid cooling. After curing for the appropriate time, the formed shape removed, finishing processes applied, and the part is loaded back into transporters.
Manufacturing will be located in orbit to use jitter-free, long-duration microgravity essential for quality control. The first location will be at the ISS to serve customers in LEO and GEO. The next will be in lunar proximity, to participate in ISS-2 construction and help initiate lunar mining. With material coming from lunar mines, the Mars station will be built and moved to Mars Orbit, for access to the Martian surface market and to major transfer orbits for missions throughout the Solar System. Mars orbit offers convenient access to Earth, to Earth's Moon, and to the Asteroid Belt. Subsidiary locations in lunar orbit allow exchange between raw materials from the Moon, and finished products.
Example of Mars Mission Cost Reduction Using ASI Technology
As an illustration, we set out to calculate the cost effectiveness of manufacturing a fuel tank under our ASI assembly line verses that of the conventional method of sending it up to the Mars orbit from the surface of Mars. The payload is a 1500kg "orbit taxi", powered by a liquid methane/liquid oxygen engine. As shown in the figure, such a tank , once reduced to a standard ASI product, can be manufactured at a marginal cost of $270K under current assumptions. The figure shows that this cost is dominated by the cost of shipping the raw material for the tank from Earth, and the cost of human operations in space.
Fundamental Enablers Identified
The above suggests two approaches to cut the cost constraint, which appears to face every startup company in space-based business.
ASI realizes that space-based manufacturing requires a tremendous initial capital outlay to fund both the facility prototypes and the full sized manufacturing facilities. To offset some of these initial costs, ASI will initially use a small-scale, flexible-use facility based on the International Space Station. Rental costs for this facility can be reduced through Joint Endeavor Agreements, bartering with NASA and the ISS, and user contracts. The small-scale facility can be used to produce bioengineering products, optics, and small panels and composite materials.
Through collaboration with other enterprises, such as lunar mining companies, ASI can work with NASA to use the Mars mission to develop large-scale manufacturing facilities in Earth and Mars orbit. Manufacturing capabilities will be marketed to supporting industries as they become appropriate. As the space-based economy becomes more developed, ASI expects to move into the role of facilitator and technology provider to other space-based manufacturing companies.
In 1998, total spending on items that could benefit from micro-gravity manufacturing was nearly one billion US dollars. This estimate includes companies from the aerospace, biomedical and semiconductor markets. Based on estimates for market penetration and growth, ASIís projected cash flows have a baseline or worst case Net Present Value of $290 million for a single manufacturing plant. This estimate includes an initial start-up cost of more than a billion dollars, comprised primarily of the cost of Earth-launch of 100 tons of facilities, infrastructure and raw materials. This cost will be financed primarily by debt and partially by venture capital.
There are a number of possibilities that would reduce ASIís startup costs, as discussed before.
Implementation Plan Summary
Phase I: Concept Validation The ASI team is composed primarily of undergraduates, with several in their freshman year. Thus, for the next 3 years, it is expected that ASI will continue to be a university-based R&D team operation.
ASI plans to grow through 4 distinct stages. Stage 1 is a university based R&D/ Product Development Project, organized into functional teams. This is appropriate for a 4 year incubation/synergistic growth period (team leaders need to graduate). Stage 2 is an incubating-company: with intense interaction with NASA initial space flights. The functional teams will evolve into project task forces. In stage 3, is a focused project in partnerships with NASA and industry. The task forces will evolve into product focused division. In stage 4, the mature technology corporation will have divisions focused on various markets. Today we are in the first Phase, a university student team. Our team structure from last year is given below:
|Richard Ames||Business Management & Finance|
|Alana Boleman||Financial Analysis|
|Don Changeau||Flight Test Engineering|
|Adam Coker||Product Development|
|Olivier Deigni||Financial Analysis|
|Avinash DíSouza||Flight Testing|
|David Francis||Customer Engagement|
|Bala Ganesh||Financial Analysis|
|Justin Hausaman||Space Operations|
|Martin Hinson||Financial Analysis|
|Jin Kim||Product Development|
|Pat Kriengsiri||Flight Testing|
|Catherine Matos||Executive Director; Outreach|
|Tinoush Moulaei||Life Sciences Applications|
|Peter Posiask||Long Range Planning|
|Xinyuan Tan||Product Pricing|
|Paul Thienprayoon||Flight Testing|
|Chanin Tongchitpakdee||Customer Engagment|
|Sam Wanis||Research and Development|
|Nate Watson||Long Range Planning|
|Narayanan Komerath||Faculty Advisor|
|N.M. Komerath||Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technologyfirstname.lastname@example.org||Faculty Advisor; Testing technologies & operations|
|R.G. Loewy||Professor and Chair, School of Aerospace Engineeringemail@example.com||Structures & Materials; Corporate Management|
|J. Olds||Asst. Professor, Aerospace Engineeringfirstname.lastname@example.org||Space launch systems; Mission Design|
|M. Smith||Asst. Professor, Aerospace Engineeringemail@example.com||Structural Mechanics, Outreach|
|Z.L. Wang||Professor, Materials Sciencefirstname.lastname@example.org||Electron Microscopy and Advanced Materials|
|Erian Armanios||Professor, Aerospace Engineeringemail@example.com||Composite Manufacturing;
|Wanda Pierson-Jeter||NASA Georgia Space Grant Consortium, Coordinator of Outreach Activities||Wanda.firstname.lastname@example.org||Getting the K-12 community involved in space related activities|
|Oscar Aldana||Program Coordinator, Center for Education Integrating Science, Math and Computingemail@example.com||Science and Math Outreach to K-12|