Drones for Space Operations
We aim to create a Hollywood quality video about drones and to make a drone prototype for space operations if our goals are met.
Drones for Space Operations
We aim to create a Hollywood quality video about drones and to make a drone prototype for space operations if our goals are met.
Our Kickstarter is over but our mission is not!
Visit our website at:
To see our effort to create the first turn-key space construction company visit our Orbital Assembly website here:
The First Drones for Space!
Let's start the Golden Age of Space Travel now:
In the 1950’s and the 60’s we had big dreams for NASA in outer space. Certain that the future of human achievement was within reach, we realized in bright-eyed wonder that the sky was literally the limit. Every child dreamed of becoming an astronaut and holding the Earth in the palm of their hand. This was going to be the Golden Age of Space Travel.
But 49 years later, our space program is unrecognizable. Where are the spaceports, the big Moon base? NASA, the beacon of American scientific achievement — has been defunded. How can we restore the noble mission to broaden our horizons, test our limits, and find what's out there?
Thousands of brilliant engineers are already developing the technology needed to rebuild that vision. With advancements in drone technology, we'll soon be able to clean up space debris and even rescue endangered astronauts. Years from now, we could even build cities in space. But we've got to start building those tools now — or this generation will lose this amazing opportunity for many more decades
Our primary mission is to develop drones to be used at the International Space Station to retrieve objects that drift away during spacewalks and repair activities by astronauts. Later, these drones will assist in space construction, allowing us to build ever-larger structures in space. The first step to making this possible is creating a video showing what they will do, how they work and why they are needed. However, if we meet our stretch goals, we can build a Drone prototype now! These space drones have numerous other potential applications in space mining and exploration.
We plan to develop the technology to build drones designed to capture valuable tools and parts that are floating away and bring them back to the construction site.
We call this program Errant Object Retrieval (EOR). Three drone types are to be tested and operated at the International Space Station or its successor.
The Gateway Foundation’s construction arm, called Orbital Assembly, will develop three drones designed for EOR to be tested and operated at the International Space Station (ISS). How will they work? An astronaut inside the ISS will type into the EOR database where they will be working and what tools and parts they will carry with them. The EOR software will check that each of the drones has this information in their database for recognition and recovery, should they begin to drift away unnoticed by the astronaut.
Before the astronaut exits the ISS, the Observer Drone will be released from its charging plate and position itself over the assigned work area. The Observer Drone will watch the work area and provide an alert to the working astronaut should a tool or part begin to float away.
The second drone we call Frog’s Tongue. This is my favorite drone because it has so much potential in future applications. This near proximity retrieval drone is a crawler type drone designed as the second line of EOR for things just beyond the astronauts’ reach.
Here is how it works: Frog’s Tongue will follow the astronauts as they leave the Space Station’s pressurized interior. The drone will establish itself near the designated work area to offer additional “eyes-on” to detect errant objects, and to assist in near proximity retrieval. Frog's Tongue and Observer Drone’s cameras will work together to build a sphere of EOR around the working astronaut.
Why does Frogs Tongue have funny feet? Because they are designed to use the same handholds that the astronauts use when moving about the exterior of the ISS.
When a tool or part becomes untethered it begins to tumble in a predictable manner: rotating around its center of gravity. Observer Drone and Frog's Tongue are designed to identify this motion and call it to the astronaut's attention. The Astronaut will then reach out and grab the errant object if it is possible to do so. This is the first level of EOR: Drone identified and Astronaut retrieved.
"Froggy Grab it!"
If the object is beyond reach, then the astronaut will verbally activate Frog’s Tongue. Frog’s Tongue’s extension-arm will reach out to grab the errant object. After capture, the arm remains extended, until the “Retract” command is given by the astronaut. As the gripper goes by, the astronaut will say “Stop!,” and the arm retraction will cease. The astronaut will then say “Release” to recover the errant tool from the gripper. We call this Catch and Release.
Then, the astronaut will say “Stow,” and the arm will fully retract. Frog’s Tongue is the second level of EOR: Drone identified, drone retrieved. If the errant object is too far away for Frog’s Tongue to reach it, Then, the astronaut will dispatch a Retriever Drone.
Retriever Drone, The last line of EOR
Retriever is a free flying type drone designed to fetch errant tools and parts moving away from the work area that Frog’s Tongue cannot reach. Frog’s Tongue's effective range is measured in feet. Retriever, with its RCS engine, has a range measured in miles.
Retriever, like Frog’s Tongue, will have multiple sets of fingers designed to capture and secure errant objects. There will be at least three sizes of Retriever Drones to capture a range of objects.
Retriever will remain on its charging plate until an errant object is deemed too far away for any other method of return (astronaut retrieval or Frog’s Tongue).
First, Observer drone and Frog’s Tongue’s cameras will use triangulation methods to plot a course to intercept the outbound object, then, an astronaut will dispatch a Retriever Drone to go out, capture it, and bring it back.
Retriever’s plotted course will maintain a safe distance from working astronauts and other spacecraft. Upon return, this drone will slowly approach the space station before settling back onto the charging plate.
After Retriever is secured into the charging plate and powered down, astronauts will then approach the drone to recover their tools or parts.
Astronauts would also have an additional backup in case they became detached from the station and their SAFER system failed. Both Frog’s Tongue and Retriever would employ astronaut recovery procedures in the event an astronaut became unsecured and began to float away.
How would the drones save astronauts? Frog’s Tongue’s astronaut recovery procedure would be to slowly extend its extension arm to a point nearby so the astronaut could grab hold of it, and then slowly pull the astronaut back in. Should the astronaut be tumbling or too far away for Frog’s Tongue to perform a recovery, a Retriever Drone would be dispatched to assist in the operation. Retriever would position itself behind the astronaut and then gently push the astronaut back toward the station and safety.
Drones in Space Construction (SpaceCon)
SpaceCon will be a major force in the new space age, one that includes middle class people venturing to orbital spaceports and eventually to the Moon where bases will be built. Future space construction sites will become an entire ecosystem of drones, bots, pods, arms, and hard-suited astronauts. But right now, instead of a growing industry, we have only a few small efforts being made as NASA directs it energies elsewhere.
Here is how will these drones be used in roles beyond EOR:
Observer in Construction and Exploration:
Small Observer drones will be employed to see close-ups of weld jobs and assembly operations by bots and pods. They will also be employed for deep space operations, mining facilities, and to check that shuttlecraft have their heat shielding intact before reentry.
Medium sized observers will watch over production machines creating modules and delivery operations.
Larger observer drones at cardinal points will give construction control a wide-angle view of the entire site and back-up all the other drones to ensure nothing will float away undetected. These three classes of observer drones will give controllers a view of every part of the construction site at once.
Frog’s Tongue in Space Construction:
Frogs tongue’s ambulatory mechanisms will allow development of many types of drones that move tool boxes, heavy batteries, and fuel cells into place as work sites need them. Right now, Astronauts have to drag tool boxes with them everywhere they go.
A modified Frogs Tongue could carry everything an astronaut would need right up to the work site.
Retriever Drone in Space Construction
Like all these drone designs, Retriever Drone will be busy hunting down lost tools and parts, but will also become the worksite gofer. We envision many sizes of Retriever Drones, each suited to a specific task. But the smaller Retriever Drones will be used in many ways. For example, both astronauts and bots will tell Retriever Drones to fetch things from Tool Dispatch, saving them from leaving the worksite for the long time-consuming hand-over-hand walk back themselves. “Red-Rover, fetch me a 10mm socket from TD”, says an astronaut from some distant part of the half-built structure. Shortly thereafter a small drone lifts off from its charging plate and then docks with a small port on the side of the Tool Dispatch module where a 10mm socket is ejected into Red-Rovers “basket”. Red-Rover then undocks, does a 180, and moves off to the waiting astronaut.
Our aim with these drones and other space construction tools is to form the first turn-key SpaceCon company, able to assemble small to medium sized projects in low Earth orbit (LEO), later to extend that capability to larger structures and out to geostationary orbit (GSO, where many communication and government satellites fly), and then to lunar orbit. By forming a SpaceCon company to buy, test, and use these available SpaceCon assets, we will create a marketplace for sellers of such equipment now, instead of 10 years from now as we have with NASA’s budget restrained timeline. Market forces always provide the greatest driver of success. This formation of the first space construction company will jump-start the SpaceCon industry. We have named this company Orbital Assembly.
The first thing we build in space will not be infrastructure, but rather a small project that will allow us to test, develop, and refine the needed tools of this new industry. What project will be the first to be built? There are many possibilities, and a final choice will depend on various factors, but we are excited to begin, because we know it will teach us how to build the really big exciting projects that will allow thousands to visit space, just like we visit Hawaii today.
SpaceCon starts here. It starts with drones, bots and pods, arms, and more, all designed to assemble structures in space. These are the tools we need to build structures in low Earth orbit. We need to start this right now, and the development of drones for EOR are where we start.
The Golden Age of Space Travel will not begin until normal, middle-class folks, like us, can have our chance to go into space and stay at a rotating spaceport or space hotel. We want to build that spaceport. We want to build those hotels, fuel depots, and maintenance facilities in orbit.
The goals that we want to achieve with this Kickstarter mission are three-fold:
- EOR video - Primary Goal $50,000
- Observer Drone Prototype - 1st Stretch Goal $500,000
- Observer Drone for Space Testing - 2nd Stretch Goal $750,000
1. EOR Video: This video will show NASA, DARPA, and aerospace firms that the Age of Space Construction has arrived and that Drones will play a major part in it with a role in EOR at the International Space Station.
2. Observer Drone Prototype - 1st Stretch Goal. Creating a functional prototype of the Observer drone would be an excellent milestone if enough funds are generated through the Kickstarter campaign. Building a working drone prototype to perform orientation and tracking tests on parabolic flights will help convince people that the age of robotic assembly in space has arrived.
3. Observer Drone for Operational Space Testing - 2nd Stretch Goal. To build a launch ready Observer Drone is a milestone we are eager to reach. With your help and the help of NASA, or private investors we can fund the construction, testing and launch of the first drone designed for space construction. What a day that will be - to see the space construction industry born, with your help!
Cool Rewards: - All Built to Last!
Digital Donor Badge ( to share on social media)
Our Digital Donor Badge lets people know that you believe in reducing space junk and helping us develop the space construction industry. This reward is a badge of honor and understanding for those of us who know that the journey of humankind into space begins now.
We believe that members who support our efforts should be honored and remembered forever. We will archive our benefactors by creating and placing a flash memory drive on every drone, bot, pod, and arm we send into space. You will be able to send us your picture and a short bio that we will store on board our spacecraft before deployment. You are the people who matter the most to us, and this is one of the many ways we will honor you.
Flight Deck Steel Pen
Tough and beautiful! This steel pen is a favorite of pilots who have a magnet mounted on their flight deck. Tough enough to be repeatedly dropped and keep on working!
Flight Deck Steel Penlight
When you drop something in a dark cockpit 40,000ft over Mongolia at 3 am, this bright LED penlight allows you to find it without waking the other pilot. Made of steel, this tough penlight will survive many trans-global flights and attach itself to that same magnet holding your steel pen. This laser engraved penlight has a bright LED on one end and a pen on the other. The steel cover has a rubber tip stylus to use on iPads and touch screens.
Our designers, engineers and even our president use this notebook to write down ideas that become designs, and that later get patented. When a new industry is being formed, the opportunities are numerous and sometimes huge! Write it down, follow-up on that idea, and get it made. It will make a difference.
Stainless Steel 8GB USB
This 8GB stainless steel drive is built just as tough as all our other products. Adorned with our black & blue logo this attractive drive will come loaded with HD images of our drones for EOR. Don’t worry there will be over 7GB left for your other files.
Gateway Foundation Polo
Polo anyone? You don’t have to have a horse to wear our Gateway Foundation Polo. This polo comes adorned with our logo on the front left breast and our striking Gateway Spaceport symbol on the right sleeve. Comes in sizes S-6XL.
Orbital Assembly 16GB Chrome USB
Our newly formed subsidiary, Orbital Assembly, needed its own drive that exudes durability like all our Gateway Foundation products do, so we chose this solid chrome plated all metal drive with 16GB of solid state memory.
Gateway Wrap-around Mug (Final Approach)
This beautiful mug is illustrated with an image of a shuttle on short final to the Gateway Spaceport. This mug is a great Christmas gift or just a conversation starter with people not familiar with EOR, the new industry of space construction, or the Gateway Spaceport.
Gateway Wrap-around Mug (Docking)
This mug has an awesome close-up of a shuttle docking at the Gateway Spaceport. What will it be like to visit a rotating spaceport? This mug takes your imagination there between sips of your favorite brew.
Gateway Foundation Cap
Gateway Flight Crew Jacket
This great looking soft-shell jacket comes with our logo on the front left chest and our Gateway Spaceport symbol on the right arm. Excellent for cool weather, the jacket has two exterior zippered pockets for hand warming and two large interior pockets for other items. Made with a 100% polyester woven shell bonded to a 100% polyester microfleece lining. Full reverse coil zippered front with zip-through cadet collar and chin guard give you a protective barrier.
High Definition Gateway Images (Pack 1) (22X39 inches wide-format)
High Definition Drone Images (Pack 2) (22X39 inches wide-format)
Desk-top models of Observer Drone and Retriever Drone.
We have an agreement with Digital Design LLC to have realistic models of these drones (Observer, Retriever) created for our supporters. Digital Design has created many models of spacecraft and aircraft for years. Here is their full size replica of the Apollo 17 Lander at the Naval Aviation Museum:
Lunch with the Team!
We welcome any opportunity to meet our supporters, their contributions to our effort are of great importance. Join us for lunch at a secret Italian Villa near Pasadena where our team meets to discuss assembling structures in space, errant object retrieval, and building Death Stars (just kidding—we’ll be on the Rebel Alliance’s side!). The following restrictions apply: this reward does not include compensation for travel to the venue, airfare, accommodations or car rentals.
Dinner with the President and our Chief Architect.
Join our President, John Blincow, and our Chief Architect, Dr. Thomas Spilker, for dinner to discuss how we can help your business grow into space and what structures we can build there. After dinner, and a few beers, John might tell you stories of getting struck by lighting while flying a 747 near a thunderstorm, and Tom will recall stories of sending probes around Titan. These two space construction pioneers will give you an evening to remember! The following restrictions apply: this reward does not include compensation for travel to the venue, airfare, accommodations or car rentals.
It's hard to find gifts for people who love space travel, so what do you buy for your friends and co-workers who love space stuff? Here you can add on any extra items to your pledge of $25 or more to get that cap with the Gateway Foundation logo or the Steel Flightdeck Penlight . Choose from our list below, then follow the directions at the bottom - It's easy!
Gateway Foudation Sticker - Add $5.00
Steel Flight Deck Pen (Blue) - Add $10.00
Steel Flight Deck Pen (Aqua) - Add $11.00
Flight Deck Steel Penlight - Add $15.00
Gateway Ideas Notebook - Add $16.00
Gateway Foundation Polo - Add $35.00
New Orbital Assembly 32GB solid metal USB - Add $40.00
Shuttle Docking Mug - Add $20.00
Flight Crew Cap - Add $25.00
Gateway Flight Crew Jacket - Add $120.00
Three Signed 22 X 39 Ultra HD images of the drones - Add $125.00
Observer Drone Model - Add $900.00
Retriever Drone Model - Add $1200.00
ADD-ON INSTRUCTIONS: To add an add-on to your pledge, follow these steps:
1) Press the 'Manage Your Pledge' Button above. If you have not pledged yet, it will say 'Back this Project'.
2) Increase your pledge in the 'Pledge Amount' box by the total of the add-ons you want to add.
3) After the end of the Kickstarter campaign you will receive a survey that will ask you questions so that you can explain how you would like the add-on money assigned.
An Exciting Age!
We are excited about making this high quality video for the drones operating at ISS and in space construction. With your contributions and support we can go even further. Help us to kickstart this amazing age of space travel with a contribution to our development effort for this video explaining the need for drones for EOR, construction, and exploration.
We are offering some cool rewards and hope that you’ll back our vital project and help us spread the word. If this Kickstarter is successful, we will enter the Golden age of Space Travel. It all starts with your contribution.
Risks and challenges
We reserve the right to use a different video production company if scheduling problems or other issues arise. Video production can and often has significant delays in production. Scheduled delivery dates of our EOR video may require more time than we have anticipated in our rewards. Should such a delay occur please allow us an additional 60 days for delivery of this important reward.
Building and launching a unique spacecraft such as the Observer Drone will require more funding sources than just this Kickstarter. We are confident that private funding from outside of the Kickstarter campaign will provide the needed additional investment funds to build, test, and launch the Observer Drone within 24 months of the campaign's completion. However, should any unforeseen problem delay this project then additional time will be required to complete the project's objectives. We will not under any circumstances ever give up the quest to create drones for EOR and space construction. Our goal of creating a space construction industry will not be complete until large rotating spaceports and other forms of transportation infrastructure are commonplace in LEO above the Earth.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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