Sunday, November 30, 2014

Plan B

Plan B is flowing smoothly.  I have spent the last two weeks in Riverside and Fontana, California getting a Class A drivers license and learning to drive trucks, not small ones, big ones - 18 Wheelers.  So Plan B is to drive around the country to earn some good bucks and on days off, build rockets in the Mojave.  The next step in the process in driving for CRST Van Expedited is attend a few days of orientation followed by 28 days of on the job training with an experience driver.  What CRST offers is company sponsored training followed by a 10 month contract to drive.  Even if someone goes to a driving training company on their own, you still need a year of experience driving before you can get work so this is a really good deal for starting out in this line of work.

This is right after passing the DMV test
New Sideline Career
So how did I get here?  What is Plan A?  Of course the general plan has been to finance OpenLuna and earlier this year Paul and I started the for-profit sister corporation Kepler Shipyards for which we almost had loans for the space suit division by midyear which didn't come through and subsequently messed up the next step.  We have been working another angle that is $25k short of a $60M proposition that would finance the spacesuits at $2M and create an annual revenue of a million dollars or more to finance other tech.  I can not disclose the details at this time and we have a few days yet to still make it happen.  

Additionally, revenue flow since coming to California has been minimal and I was looking for something good to just-show-up that I could walk right into (I tend to find the better opportunities this way vs pounding the pavement).  And truck driving was it.  It was ready to go on a weeks notice so I began the process even though there was still hope for Plan A.  I really like the other students and this company is cranking out drivers a dozen or two at a time.   The first year we only make $2k to $3k monthly but ultimately an annual salary of $70k to $100+k is possible which is what I would make behind the desk.  I doubt I will continue with it that long I just need to get a solid income behind me to operate from and take another stab at, perhaps it is even the leg up to pull Plan A from the ashes.

The CRST Truck Terminal Where I will be Working

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Day on the Range

The range in this case was FAR - Friends of Amateur Rocketry near Mojave, Cantila, and California City.  Since it has been a year and a half since I was here, I will include a link to my previous post for this site, click here (note there are two albums on that page, one for the range and one for that day).

The Second Rocket
The crew consisted of Jerry, Erika, Davey - a good friend of theirs, and myself.  The primary mission was delivering frames made the past month by the same crew, making a batch of solid propellant for them, taking inventory of the storage containers for restock and planning for a liquid motor test fixture.  The latter was my assigned task though we all helped each other and achieved the mission with many breaks to watch the local rocket builders launch their creations into the skies... most of the them.

The main fare for the day were small rockets, 3-4 inches in diameter and a few feet long. Click here for the photo album for the day.

October 4th was a lovely day at the range with mostly clear skies, a light breeze and a comfortable temperature. The first rocket was a smooth firing, the builder tracked the flight to over 20,000 ft and recovered the rocket.  I was able to get a picture of the exhaust right after the rocket left the pad, see album.  The second rocket required three tries, the igniter worked but it didn't set the propellant off until the third try.  The flight was tracked and the rocket successfully recovered.  In between the second and third attempt, the students set up theirs, found a problem and returned to the quonset hut to rebuild it.  Then they were up next, with a nice flight, perhaps not reaching its altitude goal.

Note the 1 foot space, open air, above the mounds. 

The final test was not to go airborne.  It is called a static test, where the rocket is held down with an exhaust deflector, usually to measure the amount of thrust generated by the particular design and propellant mixture.  In this case, they tried made the sugar rocket of a larger diameter than had been know to work.  A test the prior weekend had exploded.  Despite the fact that we would be watching from the bunkers, image left, we were advised that if we heard a boom, to duck. 

Between the top of the mound seen above, and the top of the bunker is about a 1 foot open space for viewing the rocket launches.  I set the camera on the cement wall holding the mound for my shots.  My camera has a long delay between pushing the button and taking the picture and I have a tough decision to time my shots and I usually miss the action.  I was standing on the very far end (left in the photo) angling my shot back to the right for the static test. 

Got the Shot!  Note the debris above the launch rail.
The rocket builder counted down, 3...2...1... and I pushed the trigger and got the first shot of the rocket ready to fire.  Then just as we all thought ignition had failed the igniter went off and I pushed the shutter button.  I had my left arm deliberately across my head to push the button giving me an even smaller window to watch a potentially exploding rocket.  The next thing I knew I had ducked and a vague sense of something bushing past my arm.  I looked and everyones head was down.  I looked out and saw the smoky remains of their rocket test.  In the end, my shutter went off just as the rocket exploded.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Earth to Debi....Earth to Debi

I'm still here.  I somewhat inadvertently reverted to my naturally introverted state, even dropping off Facebook the last few months.  I enjoy being extroverted when I want to be so I have the best of both worlds.  If I was having a barrel of fun, I would have shared it.  It wasn't a bad time, just mostly normal ups and downs with nothing special to report.

After the space conference in July 2013 I walked into a care-giver position where they were hiring on 50 people in a short period of time.  When I saw the ad for it I expected it to be for the elderly which I had some experience with Helen in taking her places.  The job turned out to be assisted living for adults with developmental disabilities.  I left the conference with some prospects for work in the field but would take some time to follow up and this company was willing to hire me on for an uncertain duration so that was good and I took on the challenge.  Outside the normal ups and down, the biggest challenge of the last year was the yo yo-ing of opportunities opening up and then closing again first for employment in the space industry and then for financing Paul's space suit design.  Each of the latter, just keeps getting closer with two prospects in the works. 

As for my employment at Community Outreach Counseling, I can't say much about it as I am bound by HIPPA regulations for the events that transpired at work.  The limited pay was tough so I didn't get to any more space conferences in the last year.  I didn't need a lot to live on for my circumstances and when I did need to travel for a couple of the Avatar courses, they were able to accommodate that.  And I worked weekends so I had the week to work on these other opportunities.  

January of this year, my long time associate Paul Graham, an engineering friend of Paul's and I formed Kepler Shipyards, LLC to finish development and to commercialize Paul's space suit design.  As eluded to earlier, we thought we had funding lined up at that time and new prospects are in the works for that.

In the mean time, I have left my sister's house in Idaho and my job there.  I am spending a few days in Las Vegas with family and my father's birthday on Wed. of this week.  I will return to California to work with Jerry and Erika on Thursday.

Rocket science..... here we come!