Space Access 15 Schedule & Details

Space Access ’15 Conference Info and Agenda

April 30th – May 2nd

at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North

Updated 4/18/15, with Presentations Schedule

Space Access Society’s next annual conference on the technology, business, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation will feature a cross-section of the growing cheap access community, talking about what’s going on now and what will be happening next, in a fast-paced intensive informal atmosphere, single-track throughout so you don’t have to miss anything.

Confirmed launch-project & space-hardware presenters so far: Altius Space Machines, CubeCab, DARPA ALASA, EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Frontier Astronautics, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, Tethers Unlimited, Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, XL Space Systems, plus sessions on what you’ll need to know to start your own space venture (and that’ll help if you’re working at one also) – rocket development safety, 3d printing hype & reality, complex-systems mission-assurance, government regulations, NASA Ames and JSC commercial cooperation opportunities, plus reports on high-end student & amateur rocket hardware projects, talks by well-known space writers/bloggers (Jeff Foust, Clark Lindsey, Charles Lurio, Doug Messier, Rand Simberg, Henry Spencer), and multiple sessions plus a special guest program segment about now that cheap orbital access is near, how do we start affordably taking the next big steps outwards to the Moon, Mars, and beyond?

Space Access has been described as a “Hackers” conference for rocket people, with better content than other space conferences costing many times more. It’s two-and-a-half days of total immersion in making the future happen. This year’s edition, SA’15, is just twelve days away – get those airline tickets booked now before they cost more, reserve your room while our hotel still hasn’t filled up, and be there!

Conference Location & Room Reservations

SA’15 will be at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North, 10220 N Metro Parkway E in Phoenix Arizona, fifteen minutes from the Phoenix Airport, with Space Access conference room rates of $99 a night plus tax, rate includes a 25% discount on the hotel full-breakfast buffet. Reserve your room at our rate, or call the Radisson at 602 997-5900 and ask for the “Space Access Conference” rate (good for up to three days before and after our dates if you want to do a little late-spring southwestern touristing. No guarantees, but the long-range forecast for our dates is sunny & dry, low nineties days, overnight lows in the sixties.)

Attendees at SA’13 may recognize the address – yes, this is the same location, on the northeast quadrant of the ring road around Phoenix Metrocenter Mall, with a wide variety of restaurants and shopping a short walk away, extensively renovated under a new owner.

Conference Registration

SA’15 registration is $120 in advance, $140 at the door, student rate $40 in advance and $50 at the door. The single-day rate will be $60 ($20 student) available at the door only. You can register in advance by mailing a check, along with your name, email, and desired organization name (if any) for your badge to Space Access ’15, PO Box 16034, Phoenix AZ 85011, or register online via Paypal or your credit card. Tuesday April 28th is the preregistration deadline– online registration will close down after midnight, and mailed registrations must be received by that day.


We’ll be starting conference sessions programming at 1:30 pm Thursday April 30th, running (with breaks) till ~10 pm, then Friday May 1st 9 am till ~10 pm, then Saturday May 2nd 9 am till ~6 pm, with hanging out, talking and partying to follow Saturday till late. Our overall schedule will include roughly twenty-two hours of programming on the latest and most interesting developments in this fast-moving field.

Preliminary SA’15 Presentations Schedule 4/18/15

This is our first-pass detailed presentations schedule.

Speakers – we have undoubtedly scheduled some of you before your flight arrives, after it leaves, or in some other way made life difficult for you. If so let us know (email is best) and we’ll fix it.

Also, note that the schedule is long, and packed, and timeslots in general are short. The upside of this is, we’re single-track throughout – during your time, you’ll have the entire audience. We are very glad to have so many interesting speakers willing to show up – thanks! We do ask that you help us keep the conference rolling by preparing to hit your essential points within perhaps three-quarters of your overall timeslot, to leave time for Q&A.

To help you get on stage quickly, if your presentation is static slides only, you can save it as a .PDF and either email it to us in advance or hand it to our A/V person on a stick (at least an hour before your talk, please!) If you have video, animations, sound, or just prefer to save in PPT files, to avoid compatibility delays please bring your presentation set up to run on your own machine. We’ll have a 15-pin VGA + headphone cable as well as a standard HDMI cable plus power at the podium for you to connect to. (If your machine needs a special adapter to talk to one of these, please bring it – there are far too many such for us to try to stock.)

We’ll also be keeping introductions to a bare minimum (we figure the audience is there to listen to you, not us) and if people come up to talk to you afterwards, please ask them to walk with you to the ballroom lobby so we can get the next talk underway. Thanks!

People Who Have Neat Conference-Relevant Stuff To Show Off: We still have a limited number of display tables available in the sessions-hall lobby. Email us.

Note that we will be starting the conference a bit earlier and running a bit later than originally planned, in order to fit everything in. Our apologies to anyone this ends up inconveniencing. Also note that all meals are on-your-own – we don’t do rubber-chicken banquets; we figure your time is better spend finding interesting people to dine with at the many fine eateries nearby.

And do check out our Hospitality Suite (156 & 158) anytime you’re in need of a snack and a soft drink and a place to schmooze.


Morning – setup will be underway. Please stay out of the ballroom, ballroom lobby, and Hospitality rooms unless you have business there.

Noonish – Hospitality (156 & 158) and Registration (Main Ballroom Lobby) will open.

Oneish – Main Ballroom will open.

1:30 pm – Henry Vanderbilt your Conference Manager gives a brief welcome and sets the scene.

1:40 pm – Henry Spencer on Building Rockets Without Killing Yourself (Much): Rocket Safety 101.

2:25 pm – Ken Biba, of the Carmack-Prize winning AEROPAC team, on the ARLISS Extreme 2-stage 100,000-feet recoverable CANSAT-launcher project.

2:45 pm – Virgin Galactic, Will Pomerantz, VP, Special Projects, will discuss where LauncherOne and SpaceShip 2 are headed.

3:30 pm – <break>

4:00 pm – NASA JSC Commercial Space Capabilities Office, Dennis Stone, Project Executive, on the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) initiative.

4:20 pm – Altius Space Machines, Jon Goff. Altius is a space technology company that is developing the innovative HatchBasket SmallSat Deployment System, ISS “Shirt Sleeve” Glovebox Robotics, Unique Grasping technologies to grasp a boulder off of an asteroid, Rendezvous and Docking solutions enabled by robotics and grasping Sticky Boom technology, and a potentially revolutionary Plasma Aerocapture electrodynamic reentry system.

4:55 pm – Dr Peter Swan of the International Space Elevator Consortium on Space Elevators, $500 per pound to GEO, based on a four year study by the International Academy of Astronautics.

5:15 pm – Separating Facts From Hype In Current 3D Printing Technology, Plus Future Possibilities Earthbound And Elsewhere, presentation by Rich Cameron and Joan Horvath, Nonscriptum LLC, consultants on uses of 3D printing and maker technologies.

5:40 pm – Robert Watzlavick will report on his ongoing development of a liquid bipropellant rocket motor.

6:00 pm – <dinner break>

8:00 pm – Panel: The Commercial Smallsat And Launcher Revolution. Jeff Foust is a long-time space journalist, tweeter, and blogger. Clark Lindsey is one of the original essential space bloggers, and has recently gone pro. Charles Lurio is writer and publisher of the insider newspace newsletter The Lurio Report. Together they will discuss the explosively growing commercial smallsat market as well as various soon-to-arrive dedicated smallsat launch options.

8:50 pm – Moon Express, Ben Brockert, Propulsion Systems Engineer. Moon Express plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development.

9:15 pm – Rex Ridenoure on The Spinning Lander Concept For Cost-Effective Lunar & Planetary Missions.

9:35 pm – Dave Salt is a longtime professional in the European space industry and will give a talk based on his paper The Disruptive Potential of Subsonic Air-Launch, with some additional material.

10:05 pm – David Luther/Exodus Aerospace

10:15 pm – <end of Thursday programming>

Midnight – Hospitality closes. Get some rest, there’s two more long days ahead!


8:00 am – Hospitality and Registration open

9:00 am – Henry Spencer on Fuel Depots and Extraterrestrial Resources: Myths and Realities with emphasis on near-term cis-Lunar applications.

9:35 am – Dr Peter Swan of the International Space Elevator Consortium on Space Mineral Resources – The Economics of Mining Asteroids.

9:55 am – Dennis Stone, with A Brief History Of COTS. Dennis Stone helped start and execute NASA’s historic Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program in which NASA and industry partnered to develop capabilities to carry cargo to Low Earth Orbit.

10:20 am – <break>

10:50 amCOTS 2: Return To The Moon, Part 1. Doug Plata will be running this special guest session on his proposal to apply the successful COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems, IE NASA Commercial Cargo) model to commercial development of the transportation, habitation, and other systems needed for Lunar settlement on a practically affordable basis. Part 1 talks:

Doug Plata on Returning To The Moon On A Budget

Dave Masten on low-cost access to the Lunar surface

– Erik Seedhouse on Lunar surface crew factors and habitats

12:20 pm – <lunch break>

2:00 pm – COTS 2: Return To The Moon, Part 2 talks:

Jeff Greason on the market implications of Lunar return

Doug Plata on Lunar Surface Operations

Pascal Lee on “The Moon and the Road to Mars”

3:30 pm – <end of COTS 2: Return To The Moon guest session – break>

4:00 pm – Bruce Pittman, NASA Ames Commercial Space Portal, on Developing a Thriving Cis-Lunar Economy

4:25 pm – Doug Jones discusses Mars-Base Midland, his plan to do Biosphere 1.5 on a budget, using current technologies and hardware to build a mostly-closed-loop comfortable house in the US desert southwest. (Or as he puts it, his thermodynamicist’s holiday.) Doug’s day job is Chief Test Engineer AKA “The Rocket Whisperer” at XCOR Aerospace.

4:45 pm – DARPA ALASA, Mitchell Burnside Clapp, Program Manager. DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program seeks to launch satellites on the order of 100 pounds for less than $1M total, including range support costs.

5:30 pmCubeCab, Dustin Still, COO. CubeCab is positioning themselves as a provider of launches to LEO for 1U and 3U CubeSats.

6:00 pm – <dinner break>

8:00 pm – Gerry Nordley will report status and progress at Tethers Unlimited.

8:20 pm – EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, John Quinn, COO. Founded in part by key members of the Armadillo Aerospace team, Exos’s website says they will be getting into the ultra-fast-turnaround recoverable suborbital payloads market, and their Facebook page says they’re currently building four copies of a suborbital rocket and longer-term developing a manned suborbital VTHL rocket and a small payload orbital vehicle. Beyond that, Exos is playing their cards close to their vest, but we expect they’ll have much more to say by the time of our conference.

9:00 pm – Prestwick Spaceport, Chuck Lauer, International Business Development Manager.

9:15 pm – L.K. Kubendran, Program Executive, Flight Opportunities, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA HQ, on a suborbital/nanolaunch capability development initiative.

9:35 pm – John Schilling on Mission Assurance, how to design and build complex systems that won’t fail when there’s no do-over. How to actually do it, and how to convince the traditional Big Aerospace world that you’ve done it, overlapping but not identical topics. A run-through of what the usual processes and standards are, how to do them right (in the useful-engineering rather than buzzword-bingo sense) if you are going to do them, and the quick and dirty ways to get approximately the same results if you aren’t going to do it by the book.

10:10 pm – Charles Pooley, Microlaunchers LLC, on their plans and their new book Microlaunchers: Technology for a New Space Age.

10:20 pm – <end of Friday programming – don’t miss the Prestwick Spaceport Scotch Tasting, Part 1>

Midnight – Hospitality closes. Get some rest, there’s one more long day ahead!



8:00 am – Hospitality and Registration open

9:00 am – XCOR Aerospace, Jeff Greason. XCOR is currently assembling the first prototype Lynx two-seater suborbital rocket spaceplane, testing a small (3000 lbs nominal vacuum thrust) pump-fed liquid-hydrogen engine for ULA as a tech-demonstrator precursor of an eventual RL-10 class upper stage engine, and working with Masten Space Systems on methane propulsion for Masten’s vehicle for the DARPA XS-1 highly-reusable rocket stage program.

9:50 am – Ed Wright, Citizens In Space/US Rocket Academy, and Prof. Justin Karl, University of Central Florida, on developing payloads for the Lynx Cub suborbital payloads carrier.

10:05 amPortland State Aerospace Society, Nathan Bergey. PSAS is a student aerospace engineering project at Portland State University, building ultra-low-cost, open source rockets.

10:20 am – <break>

10:50 am – FAA AST, Pam Underwood, Deputy Division Manager, Operations Integration Division, on Transition of Traditional Government Space to Commercial Space.

11:20 am – Frontier Astronautics, Timothy Bendel. Frontier provides affordable and reliable rocket engines and attitude control systems, as well as custom design and testing services for customer’s rocket engines or flight vehicles

11:45 am – XL Space Systems, Michael Carden. X-L Space Systems provides peroxide application assistance, high concentration hydrogen peroxide, and aerospace research services.

12 noon – Doug Messier writes on space at Parabolic Arc out of Mojave, and will give a talk on The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be: Lessons Learned In Commercial Spaceflight Since The Ansari X Prize.

12:25 pm – <lunch break>

2:00 pm – Masten Space Systems, Dave Masten. Masten Space is a leading developer of VTVL suborbital payload-carrying systems and provider of planetary lander systems flight-testbed services, and is one of three contractors for the DARPA XS-1 highly-reusable high-performance rocket stage program.

2:50 pm – Brigham Young University students Patrick Walton on PIC 1.0: Visual Inspection Performed by a CubeSat, and Jessica Morgan on Origami-Based Deployable Space Mechanisms.

3:05 pmSpace Studies Institute, Gary Hudson, President, on SSI’s G-Lab orbital variable-G life-sciences lab project.

3:30 pm – Robert Steinke will report on the potential of battery-powered propellant pumps, given that R/C hobbyist motors and batteries are now competitive with peroxide-monoprop gas-generator turbines.

3:45 pm – <break>

4:15 pm – Rand Simberg gives his views on Current Policy Priorities. Rand is a self-described recovering aerospace engineer, and is a well-known space and current-events blogger, editorialist, and author of Safe Is Not An Option.

4:40 pm – Rick Wills is working with Midwest Propulsion Group and will report on their vintage rocket and jet-turbine engine restoration projects.

4:55 pm – Jim Muncy, PoliSpace, on CSLA, The Learning Period, and such other Policy Issues as May Occur.

5:30 pm – New Models For Off-Planet Settlement roundtable discussion session. We (presumably) already believe long-term off-planet settlement is essential. The time has arrived to talk about the most practical way to make it happen as soon as possible. The purely public model has failed, between extremely high public-agency costs and at-best still relatively flat long-term public space budgets. One purely private model, bootstrapping a space media project by the multiple orders of magnitude needed to finance a settlement, may once again be falling short. What sort of public/private or alternative pure-private model might actually produce sustainable off-planet settlement? “COTS 2”, building on the original COTS (Commercial Cargo) low-cost commercial system development model to affordably produce the needed transportation, habitation, and other systems, has been suggested and sounds to us viable – but is there a better model out there? If not, what will be involved in implementing “COTS 2”? Help us start sorting all this out.

6:10 pm – SA’15 sessions done. Once you’re back from dinner, see you at the Prestwick Spaceport Scotch Tasting Part 2, at Hospitality till way late, in the Hotel Bar, and hanging ’round the pool deck – it’s time to enjoy a traditional Space Access Saturday night.

Supporting The Conference

As for SA’15 conference fundraising, as of April 18th we’ve reached $7845 of the ten thousand we need to make this conference sustainable. Yes, we’re doing the conference now regardless of whether we reach our goal. (Commitments we’ve made to speakers and attendees entirely aside, hotel contract cancellation penalties are downright fierce.) One place raising the last part of our goal makes a difference is in the degree of conference followup we can do afterward. EG, finally after all these years getting set up to start processing and posting conference videos online.

If you believe that Space Access conferences are useful to this community, and that keeping conference prices as low as possible for all of us who are still students, hungry amateurs, or tight-budget startup pros is still the way to go, help, please. Donate online, or send a donation of whatever size – ten, a hundred, a thousand, it all helps – via check to: Space Access Society, PO Box 16034, Phoenix AZ 85011.

(Note that this is NOT tax-deductible, as we are not a 501c-anything. It is however entirely confidential, as we have never and will never share or disclose in any way our supporters’ names. Our ongoing gratitude goes out to all who’ve supported us over the years and who continue to help.)