1/9/18 Update

Over the past month, we have completed the development of the Trailblazer engine. This includes the following milestones:

  • Successful ignition test of the hypergolic fuel mixture
  • Completion of the rocket engine injector design, which is currently being sent out for manufacture
  • Sourcing of the engine ablative material and establishment of supplier relationships
  • Full-on Ansys testing of engine performance and startup transient

The production infrastructure for the hydrogen peroxide is also being set up, with a 50-liter plant under shipment. We expect it to be operational in 2 weeks. It will allow us to create the HTP necessary for the rocket and to sell the product to other companies as it is not commonly available.

Additionally, the engineering model has been completed and is awaiting a stand for display.

Overall, Aphelion is on track for the development of its Trailblazer vehicle and R&D has been progressing well. We are slightly behind in satellite product development but we expect the full EPS to be on sale by the end of the month.

Successful fuel mixture test

Successful fuel mixture test

Trailblazer Stabilization Fins

Trailblazer Stabilization Fins

Full-scale engineering model 

Full-scale engineering model 

Financial Summary and 12/3/17 Update

A financial summary for the period September 1st - November 31st has been compiled and is attached below. During this period of time Aphelion has hit all critical milestones, including the start of detailed design work on the Trailblazer vehicle, completion of core elements in the Cubesat product line, and active participation in government contracts. Aphelion had a net spending of $60321 during this quarter, while the budgeted amount was $93170. This results in a $32849 surplus. The following chart depicts the spending breakdown.

The reduced spending was due to the following reasons.

  • The hiring of a structural engineer, part-time machinist, and part-time EE have not been executed and have been put off to a later date
  • The move-in date to the larger facility will be between late this month to early January
  • A large portion of the developmental budget was unused

This leads us to two important conclusions regarding the company's financial standing and development strategies.

  • As we enter the next quarter, we need to strike a better balance between hardware purchases and labor. Labor accounts for most of our costs, therefore, outsourcing and the direct purchase of certain items will be reconsidered especially at this early stage of business. We will also increase expenditure on capital goods in order to increase productivity.
  • We see the slow burn rate as a positive thing as the company slowly enters into full operations. However, we will be expanding the team very soon as we move into hardware testing and full vehicle design.

Meanwhile, progress for this week include the following.

  • The Part B proposal for NASA's NIAC program has been completed and submitted as a part of the bid for a $110,000 contract.
  • We completed major electroplating tests on the catalyst bed.
  • The structure of the engineering model has been completed, with the nosecone fitted to the body. Paint and exterior finishes are being applied through the weekend.
  • Engine manufacturing plans are in the works. This allows us to start hardware production by the end of December as expected.

Finally, our facility in New Jersey is being expanded. This was done at no cost to Aphelion and will provide an additional 300-400 sqft of space. The walls were being torn down this week and it is expected to be complete by the next.


11/26/17 Update

This week saw only 3 work days as a result of federal holidays in the US. Nevertheless, our founders kept on working and delivered continued progress.

Technical development:

  • More comprehensive analysis was done on the engine, including successful verification of its characteristics in CFD
  • The construction of a catalyst bed test article has started
  • Tankage, structural work, and test stand design was conducted over the course of the week
  • The nosecone for the Trailblazer engineering model has been completed and installed on the airframe body

Business development:

  • A STEM partner has been established for the Calypso satellite, which will allow us to obtain a definite launch opportunity from NASA.
  • Negotiations are underway with Camden Spaceport for launch and test operations
  • A meeting was held between the founders to discuss strategies leading up to Series A funding. We have established connections with a few potential targets.
  • A new set of marketing material is being developed, including a new pitch deck for Series A investors.
  • We have been working on company marketing and deliberated over a new logo to replace the current placeholder. We are also going through a selection process for the formal naming of our orbital vehicle. An email will be sent to Lightcraft before any changes are made.

A detailed financial/budgetary update will be provided next week.

Trailblazer nosecone

Trailblazer nosecone

Catalytic pack woven mesh

Catalytic pack woven mesh

Engine CFD

Engine CFD

11/18/17 Update

As per our development plan, thorough simulations and engineering work are underway on the Trailblazer vehicle. In addition, we would like to highlight the following.

  • The testing plan for the Trailblazer 9.5kN engine has been clearly delineated. Catalytic bed testing will begin next week and necessary materials have been ordered.
  • Valve and plumbing design have been progressing at a high speed this week and we expect a design ready to manufacture by the next. We noted that this will provide us with designs and IP that can be commercialized.
  • High test peroxide distillation has begun in order to produce peroxide for development tests. We are also evaluating the prospects of producing HTP in-house as a cost-saving measure.
  • A number of suppliers for the Trailblazer vehicle have been contacted and established to minimize risks for key, hard-to-obtain elements of the vehicle.

Progress has also been made on other tasks.

  • Integration of the flight 1U Cubesat has begun, along with the drafting of various satellite launch proposals with NASA (see picture below)
  • The body for the Trailblazer engineering model is being prepared for mating with the nosecone the coming week (see picture below)
  • The employee health plan is being arranged. A report will be sent to Lightcraft via email in the near future.

11/12/17 Update

We saw steady technical and business progress over the course of the week. Below is a summary of major events.

- Enzo traveled to San Franciso to review the design of the Trailblazer main engine prior to initial hardware manufacturing. He worked with Ansys at their corporate headquarters to set up a comprehensive fluid simulation of the engine injector and chamber assembly. 

- Matthew has permanently relocated up to New Jersey in the company apartment. Previously acquired assets have been successfully transported up, including the engine test stand and a 1U Cubesat.

- Detailed design work has been progressing well on the Trailblazer vehicle, and both the propellant tank and the plumbing system are in the works.

- The full-scale engineering model is under construction and we expect initial assembly by the end of next week.

- The proposal for NASA's Cubesat Launch Initiative is being drafted. 

- Cubesat product development is progressing according to plan, with testing being performed on the EPS module this week. We expect to be able to take orders towards the end of November.

- We have started reaching out to Spaceport Camden and Kennedy Space Center for long-term collaboration.

We are in good financial shape with respect to our burn rate. Some major expenses are planned for next week, including the cheque for our Ansys simulation software and some furniture purchases.