Ars Technica | Rocket Report 05.16.2019

Ars Technica | Rocket Report 05.16.2019

The Florida-based small satellite launch company, Rocket Crafters, entered an agreement with Switzerland-based RUAG to provide flight components for its rockets.

Excerpt from Ars Technica

This article was originally published at Ars Technica.

05.16.2019 • Edition 1.49Saturn V rocket launch 1969.

This Week in Lift

On May 18, 1969, a Saturn V rocket launched the Apollo 10 mission on its historic journey toward the Moon, and a vital, final test for a human landing there. At its closest approach, the Lunar Module came to within 14km of the surface before Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan fired their engine and returned to low-lunar orbit. Fifty years …

Small Lift Rockets

small rockets from ars technicaVega rocket preps for rideshare launch. Arianespace has finalized a payload of 42 satellites for a Vega launch as early as September, company officials said. “We are fully booked. We have no gram left of performance,” Marino Fragnito, vice president of the Vega business unit at Arianespace, said during a panel discussion at the Satellite 2019 conference, Space News reports.
A promise made, a promise delivered? … This is an interesting development, as Arianespace has promoted its Vega and next-generation Vega-C rockets as the continent’s answer to the small satellite launch competition. With this “Small Spacecraft Mission Service” launch, and more in the offing, it seems as though Europe’s main rocket company may be delivering on this promise to compete for small satellite launch contracts. Ben fatto! (submitted by Ken the Bin)Hermeus plans to develop Mach 5.0 aircraft. A new aerospace company has entered the race to provide supersonic commercial air travel, Ars reports. On Monday, a US-based company named Hermeus announced plans to develop an aircraft that will travel at speeds of up to Mach 5. Such an aircraft would cut travel time from New York to Paris from more than 7 hours to 1.5 hours.
Ambitious, to say the least … “We aren’t getting into anything too miraculous,” Skyler Shuford, the company’s chief operating officer, said. “We want to do engineering, not science.” Primary materials will include titanium, and the propulsion system will be powered by a turbine-based, combined-cycle engine. Over the next five years, the company plans to work toward a demonstrator vehicle that travels at Mach 5, before developing aircraft for commercial service eight to 10 years from now. Such a fast plane might diminish appetites for suborbital, point-to-point travel later this century.Virgin Galactic moves into new spaceport. Virgin announced that its development and testing program has advanced sufficiently to move the spaceline staff and space vehicles from Mojave, Calif., to their commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America, New Mexico. The VSS Unity spacecraft and its carrier plane, VMS Eve, are set to move to New Mexico in the summer, reports.
It’s been a long time coming … Sir Richard Branson first announced the deal to set up a spaceport on land north of La Cruces city, New Mexico back in 2005. With delays to the SpaceShip Two flight program, the facility has been mostly unused since construction was completed several years ago. Now that will finally change. This is another healthy sign that tourism flights will begin on VSS Unity later this year. (submitted by FredOG and Ken the Bin)

Rocket Crafters partners with RUAG. The Florida-based small satellite launch company, Rocket Crafters, entered an agreement with Switzerland-based RUAG to provide flight components for its rockets, Spaceflight Insider reports. “With their support, we will rapidly prototype our suborbital test rocket, gaining valuable flight heritage on our motors and quickly evolving into our Intrepid-1 small satellite launch vehicle.” said Robert Fabian, President of Rocket Crafters.
Over the Karman line, but under the radar … The Florida company has flown largely under the radar, and it’s not seeking the build the biggest or sleekest rocket in the small space race. Rather, it’s focused largely on controlling costs so that more people can get their experiments into space. This agreement also allows RUAG to develop product lines smaller launch vehicles than its traditional customers. (submitted by Mars1 and Ken the Bin)

Read the rest of the Ars Technica Rocket Report here

Source: Ars Technica.

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Grant Begley is an aerospace leader in the highly specialized fields of manned systems, unmanned systems, and robotic systems. As an aerospace executive and consultant, his work results in the enablement of next generation capabilities.  Begley is an accomplished initiator, developer, implementer and advisor of strategic planning, business development, resource obtainment, executive program management and technology insertion.

Grant, who has active security clearances, has enabled compelling new aerospace capabilities, future products and successes contributing to defense, national security and commercial applications for the federal government, Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, state governments, defense industry and the global private sectors.

Grant has successfully led the development of National Space Programs, from concept, to achieving compelling operational capabilities.

As a Certified Acquisition Executive, Grant advises global executive clients on competitive positioning, performance, and resolution of complex challenges leading to dramatic improvements.

Grant contributed to the development of the “Roadmap for U. S. Robotics 2013”, a White House initiative, as opening speaker and Team Leader. He served as Pentagon Senior Advisor – for Unmanned Systems, to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

In ’14 Grant became an Advisory Board Member for RCI.  He has been a member of the Executive Board since late ’15.



Paul Larsen earned his BS in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy, and his MBA from the Harvard School of business, specializing in Small Business Development and Small Business Operations.

Paul served for over 30 years as an Air Force and Federal Civil Service Price/Cost analyst, and a Procuring Contracting Officer (PCO); he held an unlimited warrant.

While with Air Force Material Command, Paul oversaw Contracting efforts for Minute-Man II Motor Wash-Out and Refurbishment; was Chief, Pricing and Finance Division; and President, University of Hill (Hill Air Force Base). Assignments during this time include Pricing Volume Manager for a complex $1.5b Air Force Pricing effort involving over 1,000 separate contract line items, each with four quantity ranges with firm fixed pricing for 10 years; Senior Price/Cost Analyst for major Program Depot Maintenance (PDM) contracts with European contractors to identify and repair structural and aircraft components for US jet fighter assets in the European Theater; working with several universities and colleges to improve and deliver education programs to Hill Air Force Base military and civilian employees; Pricing and Cost Analysis policy for the Command at Headquarters Air Force Material Command.

In ’10, Paul, Ron Jones, and Steve Edwards co-founded Rocket Crafters Inc. Today Paul serves as Vice Chairman and Treasurer. With his experience negotiating contracts and pricing, recruiting, managing, consulting and training government cost analysts, he brings to this position experience, leadership and focus that allows him to analyze and drive down costs to meet RCI’s financial and program goals.


Rob Fabian earned a BS in Space Operations from the United States Air Force Academy, beginning a distinguished 25-year military career in both space operations and ballistic missile maintenance.

Rob worked extensively with the Air Force’s ICBM fleets, leading field repair and sustainment efforts on both the Minuteman III and Peacekeeper missiles as well as coordinating operations between the ICBM repair depot, acquisition program office, and the supporting logistics supply chain.  As a space operations officer, his responsibilities spanned the gamut from day-to-day satellite tracking to planning and policy work at the highest levels of the government, including developing a 20-year roadmap for future space control system acquisitions and coordinating military and civil space policy issues across multiple Federal agencies.

In addition to his technical degree and extensive space and rocketry experience, Rob earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College – Summa Cum Laude.  His work has been published in the Proceedings of the Naval Institute and Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy and he spent a year as an Air Force Fellow at RAND.

After retiring from the Air Force in ’13 Rob joined Rocket Crafters’ Advisory Board as a subject matter expert in rocket motors, military acquisitions, and military space operations.  At the same time he began working with BAE Systems providing acquisition and program management assistance and advice to the Minuteman III ICBM program office, further deepening his insight into government acquisitions.

In March ’14 the company appointed Rob as Senior Vice President – Propulsion assuming responsibility for the company’s rocket engine development program.  Later that year he was appointed to the Board of Directors.  In the Spring of 2018 he was appointed as President of the company, expanding his focus to oversight of all day-to-day operations within Rocket Crafters while continuing his hands on leadership of the rocket engine development program.

Rob brings a proven track record managing the personnel, constrained budgets, and highly complex processes will be crucial in bringing RCI’s innovative new rocket motors to market.  His in-depth space operations and policy experience within the Department of Defense and across other Federal agencies will be of great help as the company continues to grow and expand its customer base.



Sean Mirsky is an expert in Macro Economic Event and Algorithmic Trading infrastructure.

He is the founder and CEO of the ZNES Group, which uses its resources to invest in forward looking “development stage” opportunities that typically have their roots in space commerce, yet have some meaningful connection to trading.

Prior to that, Sean developed and co-led the global microwave network efforts of Jump Trading as Director and Chief Architect, achieving superiority in speed between US and European Trading locations.  He also served as an embedded infrastructure specialist to key trading teams at Infinium Capital Management and Goldman Sachs.

On the Board of Directors of Rocket Crafters Inc., Sean is currently involved with commercializing patented 3D-Printed Rocket fuel and other breakthrough technologies for delivering Small Satellite (“SmallSat”) payloads to the precise orbit specified by each client.

Sean initially joined RCI’s Advisory Board, and in May ’16 was elected as a Board Member.



Sid Gutierrez earned a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy – Distinguished Graduate – and an MA in Management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School and has completed a number of executive management courses at UCLA, MIT and Stanford.  In the Air Force he flew the F-15, F-16, T-38 and many other aircraft while serving as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and instructor pilot.  Sid joined NASA as an astronaut in the mid-80’s and in the early ‘90’s he served as the Pilot of Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-40 Spacelab Life Sciences – SLS-1, a dedicated space and life sciences mission), and Mission Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-59 Space Radar Laboratory  – SRL-1, part of Mission to Planet Earth). Both missions were recognized with the Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Award for outstanding achievement in the field of space.

Sid retired from the Air Force and NASA in ’94 and joined Sandia National Laboratories, where he served in various senior leadership positions.  As a Center Director he was responsible for programs introducing disruptive ideas and technologies into satellites, space payloads and sensors and vulnerability assessments and analysis tools.  He was responsible for a very successful half a billion dollar national security satellite system.  He led innovations in national programs including support to the nuclear fuel cycle and international efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Recognizing the potential of Rocket Crafters’ innovative technologies and ideas, in ’12 Sid joined RCI as a member of the Board of Directors. Committed to changing the way we access space, in February ’15 he retired from Sandia to become the CEO of Rocket Crafters and Chairman of the Board. He is responsible for working with the RCI Team to establish and implement the goals and objectives of the company.  In addition to serving on the Board of RCI, Sid serves, or has served, on the boards of other for-profit corporations and a number of not-for- profit organizations, a state technical university, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and a Presidential Commission.


Schraeder is a well-respected venture capitalist and television personality. He has dedicated his life to business investment and development. With an educational focus in chemistry and mathematics from Fort Hayes Kansas State University, Schraeder understands the economic impact, as well as the need, for emerging and changing technology. His previous business experiences allow him to understand all aspects of manufacturing, distribution, and management.