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$5,621
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
59
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jul 31 2016
Team MilesBy Team Miles
First created
Team MilesBy Team Miles
First created
$5,621
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
59
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Jul 31 2016

About

Team Miles, a group of citizen scientists and engineers, are competing in a NASA Challenge to put a CubeSat around the Moon. We're kicking butt so far. We need funding to continue testing our CubeSat propulsion system.

 

Team Miles is competing in an X-Prize style contest to launch a breadbox sized spacecraft as a secondary payload with the SLS-EM1 mission scheduled to liftoff from Cape Canaveral in 2018. Once launched, we will orbit the moon and then navigate and establish a disposal orbit in the vicinity of Mars. Team Miles is a group of citizen scientists, engineers, makers and artists who have come together to accomplish this goal. After two successful rounds of competition and twenty months of research, development and testing, we find ourselves the only ranked team not sponsored by a university. We are one of six remaining teams eligible to fly in one of three slots reserved for the challenge. To keep up with NASA's deadlines, we need to fund additional testing of the CubeSat propulsion system ASAP.

Universities are great. As institutions, they make great advancements in science and technology. However, we recognize that true advancement is not limited to these institutions and believe the most revolutionary and compelling advances in our history have originated in the workshops and labs of citizen scientists.

Team Miles, as citizen scientists and engineers intend to continue out-competing the universities in the NASA CubeQuest Challenge, a NASA Centennial Challenge comprising four ground tournaments and numerous in-space challenges divided between the Lunar and Deep Space Derbies.

This noble effort requires your assistance. Designing and building a breadbox sized cubesat is no small undertaking with the final price well over $500,000. Our craft design includes many COTS (commercial, off the shelf) components. By necessity, however, it includes a number of revolutionary invented subsystems including our CubeSat propulsion system, our navigation and command and control systems, and key communications technology.

The CubeSat propulsion system in particular is on the critical path for development. As a fledgling space venture, we have neither the funding sources nor the facilities available from the likes of MIT, Cornell, and other current competitors in the CubeQuest Challenge. This is why we need your help.

Our team formed around two former members of Part Time Scientists, a Lunar X Prize team dedicated to accomplishing a private Moon landing. Team Miles soon swelled to twelve members including several additional experts in small satellite design, a member of the Mars Rover design team, and an engineer from SpaceX. We also included members from other disciplines to round out our business, creative and engineering capabilities.

On July 3, 2015, Team Miles submitted 221 pages to NASA for Ground Tournament 1. Fourteen teams submitted designs for this round. After a month of nail-biting and anticipation, NASA announced the results – Team Miles had won the round. Won. As in FIRST place. Competitors we beat included MIT and Cornell.  

Each of the top five teams earned $20,000 prize money. Now, if you’ve ever read or heard of articles about $800 hammers, you probably realize space ain’t cheap! Team Miles reinvested the entire prize into development and design tools, mandatory insurance, and radiation testing for key electronics. 

The cash prize was helpful. The real prize, however, was six weeks of review with NASA’s SLS Safety Team to prepare our safety presentation. This detailed and personalized review and feedback provided a deep level of insight into the requirements for a berth on the SLS. We didn’t fully understand the impact of this review until months later.

The NASA SLS-EM1 (Space Launch System - Exploratory Mission 1) launch will deliver NASA’s new Orion module to space where it will then travel to the Moon. This is the primary mission. As a secondary mission, NASA is including a deployer ring capable of launching up to 14 (20x30x10 cm) Satellites (6U CubeSats). Many of these deployer slots are committed to secondary missions such as the Lunar Flashlight, NEA Scout and Bio Sentinel. Three of these slots have been reserved for the CubeQuest Challenge. Because these are not the primary mission, NASA’s first priority is to ensure that the secondary missions do absolutely nothing that may jeopardize the primary mission or the safety of the launch vehicle.

During the Meet The Competition conference, NASA made a significant rule change. The SLS Safety Team, after much consideration, decided that the Safety Review process was so important, that only the top five winners of GT1 and GT2 would be eligible for launch with SLS. Any teams not involved with the SLS Safety Team by then would not have time to complete the necessary safety review. This meant that, at most, only ten teams would be eligible to fly. The original rules simply stated that the top three teams in GT4 would secure space on the launch vehicle. The number of potential competitors went from dozens to a maximum of ten.

For Team Miles, this news was huge. As the first place finisher in GT1, we were already part of the ten. Our odds of securing a launch spot just increased dramatically! From a tactical standpoint, we had to make a decision, should we submit documentation for GT2 or focus our efforts on our CubeSat design to improve our readiness for the final round? We quickly decided to enter GT2. This round offered another $30,000 in prize money to the five top teams and, more importantly, could provide us with more quality time with the NASA Safety Team. 

On Feb 5, 2016, Team Miles submitted 1,211 pages of technical and safety documentation to NASA for Ground Tournament 2. Ten teams participated in GT2. On March 17th, we earned our top five spot providing us an additional $30k plus face time with Safety. Surprisingly, the lineup changed considerably. In GT1, there were two university teams and three private/industry teams. For GT2, we were only non-university team left standing! Clearly, it was time for an upset.

Universities are wonderful places. The more prestigious schools get millions of dollars in grants and research funding. They have distinguished alumni happy to contribute. They have established research and testing facilities valued at millions of dollars at their disposal. Finally, they’re academics. Faculty and research staff are paid by the university. Students are essentially free labor. These resources provide a huge advantage to university teams. It allows them to focus on the technical challenges without regard to money, facilities, or labor resources. These juggernauts of wealth and prestige are the Empire in our Universe. Despite these challenges, Team Miles has already accomplished some great things. Pledging your support to this campaign gives us the resources needed to keep moving our project forward. 

By contrast, our scrappy team of citizen scientists has the pleasure of “figuring things out” and “making it work.” Although a few of our team members have private interests in the space industry, Team Miles is no one’s day job. We all participate for the joy of discovery and bragging rights. Team Miles has held our own and continues to make impressive progress. Along the way, we’ve formed some key partnerships. About half of the team belongs to Tampa Hackerspace, a three-year-old community workshop founded and operated by volunteers. We have established some key relationships to help us with resources and testing. You can see our current sponsors at http://miles-space.com/partners/ . One key example has been our CubeSat thruster testing. We’ve had the good fortune to secure space at Georgia Tech’s Labs where they house two of the four vacuum chambers in the WORLD which are suitable for testing in deep space conditions. This testing costs tens of thousands of dollars per week. Thanks to our partnership with Blue Canyon, we’ve been there twice. But even our partners don’t have endlessly deep pockets. We expect that any further testing would require cash or additional sponsors.

Which leads us to, “So what are you going to do with this money?” 

The most critical item we're inventing is our CubeSat Propulsion System. This system includes the thrusters, propellant, tanks, and power. 

Of the $30,000 goal, our largest single expense will be development of the valve prototypes to reliably and safely provide propellent to the thruster bodies from the storage tank. NASA loves redundancy. We’re building a triply redundant valve stack that contains our propellant in the storage container and provides propellant as needed to each thruster. The valves will be built into a single unit to ensure their integrity and simplify installation between the tank and the thruster bodies.

 This propellant is somewhat unique in the annals of space flight. We are using pure iodine pellets to fuel the craft. You’ll remember iodine (#53 on the periodic table) as a key nutrient provided with iodized salt. Iodine takes very little provocation to shed electrons. Iodine is something of a floozy on the periodic table. Thanks to this freewheeling nature, it makes an excellent source of plasma. This plasma provides thrust for our CubeSat. Because iodine is so promiscuous with its electrons, it is an exceptionally efficient oxidizer. Most materials, even stainless steel, are reactive with it. Furthermore, it sublimates at temperatures and pressures used on the craft. That means it transitions directly from a solid to a gaseous state without first becoming a liquid. This is great for us because it simplifies our thruster design but this makes storage more problematic. Remember where we mentioned its atomic number? It is such a small atom that it easily seeps past traditional seals. To properly seal the propellant tank, we need seals that are proven with iodine and can withstand six months of storage on a Florida launch pad, the rigors and vibrations of launch and the harsh conditions of space. In fact, the entire containment system must be designed to this standard.

For this reason, we also need to build and test our tank prototype. NASA isn’t going to take our word that this system will work. We have to properly identify the risk, design a solution that eliminates or adequately mitigates the risk, and then prove our solution is effective. Thank you Safety Team for making this process crystal clear!

Finally, we'll build a small vacuum chamber capable of vacuums to 10^-5 Torr and sized appropriately for our testing. We’re building a chamber with a proven design. It’s smaller and provides sufficient vacuum to properly evaluate thruster performance.

Unlike a typical Kickstarter campaign created to fund a project, we obviously can't give everyone their own CubeSat. Instead, we created rewards to offer our backers a sense of inclusion and to share the excitement and wonder of creating something cool that will fly in space. We hope we've accomplished that goal.

 

 

Risks and challenges

Space flight is challenging. Among the many risks we encounter, we believe these to be the most significant.

1. We may not qualify to launch.
2. Rocket might explode.
3. Miles might fail in space or never be deployed.
4. The team may run out of money before launch.
5. Critical failures occur in invented technology.
6. We never make it to GT4 for other unforeseen reasons.
7. SLS-EM1 may be canceled or delayed.
8. The NASA CubeQuest Challenge may be canceled by NASA.

For almost all of these failures, the reward components regarding having your name flown in space and any space communications rewards would not be deliverable. Regardless of our launch and mission status, we plan to fulfill the remaining promises listed in the rewards.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 3 or more About US$ 3

    Redstone Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude, will be thanked on our wall of fame and receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge. Your name will be inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018.

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    Atlas Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and MISSION STICKERS. You'll be thanked on our wall of fame and receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.Your name will be inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018.

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    Gemini Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and a MISSION PATCH. You'll be thanked on our wall of fame to include having your name inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will also receive a BEAUTIFUL, COMMEMORATIVE BOARDING PASS and insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Redstone Family Level Supporter

    You may choose up to ten names to be inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You also have our gratitude, will be thanked on our wall of fame and receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Apollo Level Early Bird

    You have our gratitude and a LIMITED EDITION MISSION CHALLENGE COIN plus the patch and stickers. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Apollo Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and a LIMITED EDITION MISSION CHALLENGE COIN. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Skylab Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and a beautiful Team Miles collared shirt.You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Voyager Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and a beautiful Team Miles collared shirt. We will broadcast your custom message from Lunar orbit back to Earth where one of our ground stations will capture, decode it and deliver it to the recipient of your choice. You'll get an MP3 file of the actual transmission and a certificate commemorating the event. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Redstone Family Reunion Level Supporter

    You may choose up to 100 names to be inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You also have our gratitude, will be thanked on our wall of fame and receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Space Shuttle Early Bird

    You have our gratitude and a limited edition, articulated scale model of the Miles Spacecraft suitable for display. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Space Shuttle Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and a limited edition, articulated scale model of the Miles Spacecraft suitable for display. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Pledge US$ 800 or more About US$ 800

    ISS Level Early Bird

    You have our gratitude and will be named in all printed and online materials alongside our existing sponsors. You will also receive an elegantly framed certificate etched in either glass or acrylic to display in your home or office. We'll also include a nice shirt, patches, stickers and a the challenge coin. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    ISS Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and will be named in all printed and online materials alongside our existing sponsors. You will also receive an elegantly framed certificate etched in either glass or acrylic to display in your home or office. We'll also include a nice shirt, patches, stickers and a the challenge coin. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Redstone El Jefe Level Supporter

    You may choose up to 1,000 names to be inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You also have our gratitude, will be thanked on our wall of fame and receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Orion Level Supporter

    You will receive the original Miles model presented to NASA as part of Ground Tournament 1. "Cabbage Patch Miles" is very dear to our team. This is a one of a kind, full sized replica of the Miles CubeSat fabricated for our face to face presentation with NASA.
    You also have our gratitude and will be named in all printed and online materials alongside our existing sponsors. We'll also include a nice shirt, patches, stickers and a the challenge coin. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge.

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    Mars Mission Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and will be named in all printed and online materials alongside our existing sponsors. You will also be invited to personally attend at one of our test facilities and work alongside our team. Date and place TBD. You'll be responsible for your own travel arrangements. We'll also include a nice shirt, patches, stickers and the challenge coin. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge. NDA required.

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    Kepler Mission Level Supporter

    You have our gratitude and will be named in all printed and online materials alongside our existing sponsors. We're going to send you one of our custom ground stations to communicate with Miles in space. These programmable ground stations can also be used to capture thousands of other signals from space. We'll also include a nice shirt, patches, stickers and the challenge coin. You'll also receive a beautiful, commemorative boarding pass and have your name, picture, or company logo inscribed on our production satellite to launch in 2018. You will receive insider updates on our progress throughout the CubeQuest Challenge. NDA required.

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Funding period

- (33 days)