The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing has aerospace veterans Maureen O’Brien and Stanley Kennedy Jr. celebrating what the commerce has achieved and looking forward to the kinds of initiatives that may drive space exploration inside a few years ahead.
The founders of Oakman Aerospace, each with years of experience with such commerce powerhouses as Martin Lockheed and General Dynamics, see alternate options for smaller companies and the potential for partnerships with firms spanning the globe.
The agency, based totally in Highlands Ranch, has developed a platform that could be custom-made to permit small- and medium-size companies to plan missions, launch small satellites or resolve how their gadgets will mesh with one different agency’s spacecraft.
The platform, known as ACORN — Advanced Configurable Open-System Research Network — is designed so smaller companies don’t need what O’Brien calls a standing army of consultants to take care of completely totally different sides of planning, designing, establishing, testing and launching space initiatives.
“There are lots of people who have really cool ideas to do in space, but they need to understand ‘How do I get that into space and make sure it works.’ Even though space is getting less expensive, it’s still really expensive,” said Kennedy, who participated in panels on the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum’s weeklong celebration of Apollo 11.
And Oakman has marked a big milestone in its totally different aim: working with companies and companies in several nations to comprehend shared targets and broaden its business. The first of July, it despatched its first cargo to an abroad agency beneath an export license by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The 2013 safety bill opened the door to transferring a lot much less delicate spacecraft and elements from the United States Munitions List to a lot much less restrictive Commerce Control List. O’Brien, the CEO, and Kennedy, the company’s president and chief strategies engineer, said it wasn’t a snap, nonetheless, Oakman acquired its first industrial export license in March and made its first international industrial cargo July 1. The recipient was NewSpace Systems in Cape Town, South Africa.
“It’s still controlled. We still have regulations on who we can and can’t sell to. All those things still apply, but it also allows for slightly less paperwork,” said O’Brien, who careworn “slightly” after which laughed.
There are nonetheless a lot of hoops to leap by, however as well as, wider different, O’Brien, and Kennedy said. For years, they joined totally different members of the Colorado Space Coalition, state officers and members of the state’s congressional delegation, along with Sen. Michael Bennet and former Rep. Mike Coffman, to make it easier for U.S. aerospace companies to export know-how that’s already on the market and doesn’t pose nationwide security risks.
At one degree, one thing that said “space” was managed by International Traffic in Arms Regulations, O’Brien said. The legal guidelines are supposed to preserve defense-related know-how out of the inaccurate arms.
Oakman ought to apply for an export license for each international business it sells to.
The Space Foundation, an advocacy group based totally in Colorado Springs, has said it helps the change in regulation to make U.S. aerospace companies further aggressive globally.
Oakman has set an occasion for various Colorado aerospace companies by pursuing and buying an industrial export license, said Jay Lindell, who serves due to the aerospace and safety commerce champion with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
“This is a great example of persistence, having the patience to go through the regulatory process. It can be a lengthy process to get the certificates,” Lindell said.
Some of the larger aerospace companies have navigated the regulatory twists and turns, nonetheless, many smaller ones have not taken them on, Lindell added.
That’s one factor Kennedy and O’Brien hope changes. They are huge boosters of Colorado’s aerospace commerce, which state and Denver-metro monetary development officers say is second solely to California’s.
Colorado has 180 aerospace companies and higher than 500 firms that current space-related companies and merchandise, in response to a 2018 report by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. The report said the state has the perfect focus of direct private aerospace employment inside the nation: 26,620.
And 60 p.c or further of the companies have 10 or fewer employees, Kennedy said.
“A lot of small companies just immediately see ‘State Department’ and ‘Commerce Department’ and say ‘No, we’re not big enough. We’re not going to do it,’ ” Kennedy said. “But I think there are a lot of opportunities for small businesses. It’s an added cost, but it isn’t prohibitive if you know what you’re doing.”
Oakman Aerospace is a small, nonetheless rising agency. O’Brien, Kennedy and Stanley Kennedy Sr. started Oakman after the company the place they beforehand labored, small-satellite producer Comtech AeroAstro, was shut down in 2012. O’Brien and the youthful Kennedy had been in London for an air current as soon as they acquired the knowledge of the upcoming closure. After some dialogue, they decided to carry on with their very personal business.
“We started with six (employees) in that first year, and now we’re at 26,” said O’Brien said.
Oakman has two buildings: one in Littleton acquired by a lease-purchase settlement with Comtech AeroAstro and an even bigger, predominant facility in Highlands Ranch the place the company is together with lab space.
Oakman was chosen as one among many “Colorado Companies to Watch” in 2015 and Kennedy is now chairman of the business group’s alumni committee. ColoradoBIZ journal these days named Oakman, with O’Brien as a co-founder, to its document of prime woman-owned companies for the third consecutive 12 months.
O’Brien is usually a veteran, having begun her career inside the U.S. Navy as an aviation structural mechanic. She went on to work for Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. Kennedy labored for years on launch vehicles, quite a lot of spacecraft purposes and ground strategies whereas at Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Advanced Information Systems.
Stanley Kennedy Sr., Oakman govt VP, labored for numerous years at Boeing and the Department of Defense.
At big aerospace companies, there was a bunch of 35 or 50 people whose full job was to design missions, Kennedy said. “When we got here, we didn’t have those 40 people to design those missions.”
Oakman’s know-how is designed for firms that don’t have huge staffs and consultants in every subject house. It provides open, standardized interfaces that allow communications and assessments between completely totally different strategies, Kennedy said.
Companies can use the software program program and elements inside the ACORN module, a plug of their very personal elements or merchandise from totally different companies, counting on their need or enterprise.
“This is where space is going, open-system architecture and open source,” Kennedy said. “Think about Google and how they do application programming interfaces. That’s what we’re developing for space systems.”
In totally different phrases, small companies and startups, which make up an enormous part of Colorado’s aerospace commerce and are serving to drive innovation, can faucet into already on the market strategies, know-how, modeling and simulations as they assemble their initiatives or design missions. Oakman sees itself as disrupting the system by making know-how and expertise further accessible.
Oakman has moreover teamed up with a European agency that works with the European Space Agency to standardize the information sheets of tons of spacecraft elements on the market internationally. Kennedy said the standardized data of cataloged elements have been built-in into ACORN so people can rapidly select and study satellite tv for pc television for laptop elements.
“We really are an enabler. We know how to build a spacecraft. We used to build spacecraft, but what we’re trying to do now is enable the next generation of space enthusiasts to design, develop and fly their missions,” Kennedy said.