Tuesday, 8 October 2013

(8) Business Case - University (v1.0)

*** Note: This proposal has been superceeded by The Proposal (v2.0) ***

Project Name
Taffanaut - (Make Space Accessible)

The primary objectives by sponsoring the first Welsh born person in space are:-
  • To raise the profile of Welsh universities and businesses in the UK and worldwide.
  • To promote collaboration between Welsh companies and companies in the UK and worldwide.
  • To promote collaboration between Welsh universities.
  • By becoming the first Welsh born person in space help to make space accessible to “ordinary” people.

The UK space industry contributes more than £9 billion a year to our economy. The government wants to increase this to £40 billion within 20 years. Wales already has approximately 20000 employees in the aerospace industry and there are ever increasing opportunities within this industry.  I want to help inspire the younger generation (from all backgrounds) to become interested in this emerging 21st century industry, attend Welsh universities and help create a better future for Wales. In order to do this I aim to become the First Welsh born person in space and to do this I need to raise £65000. I have chosen not to target individuals for sponsorship but to target Universities in Wales offering aeronautical/engineering programmes and companies within the aerospace industry in Wales.

In return all sponsors will be involved in the project from a publicity perspective and specifically for university sponsors I have secured talks from SXC (see expected benefits).

Expected benefits
Immediate benefits for participating universities include –

Talks donated to universities by SXC (Space Expedition Corporation).
Talks are expected to be delivered by an SXC representative and be focused on XCOR’s Lynx space plane. The publicity is mutually beneficial to the university and to SXC who have indicated that one of the founders of SXC, Ben Droste may deliver the talk.

Ben Droste has flown over 4,000 hours in different types of military aircrafts, with almost 1,000 hours in the F-16. He was part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force from 1962 to 2000, when he retired as Commander in Chief. He has been involved as a Chairman of the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes, Dean and Professor of the Aerospace Faculty of the Technical University in Delft and ESA Advisory Board Member. Currently, Ben Droste is Chairman of the Fokker – van den Berch van Heemstede Aerospace Foundation and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Netherlands Defense Academy.

It is hoped that the initial publicity and on going association with this venture will raise the profile of the university and any partner organisations. This will in turn assist with future marketing and awareness of the university to potential applicants worldwide. Partner organisations will also benefit from the raised profile allowing relationships to be fostered with other similar organisations.

Other participating non university sponsors are encouraged to invest more than the minimum £6500. Participating universities will share any surplus money and any future income generated by the venture. 

Estimated Costs
The cost for 1 ticket on the XCOR Lynx space plane is approximately £65000. This has been subdivided in to 10 equal sponsor/shares of £6500 to help spread the cost and to allow a number of Welsh universities/organisation to take part without diluting the benefits too much.

£6500 per share (per university or group of universities).

A university may commit to 1 x £6500 share or may choose to collaborate with another university and share the cost and the SXC talk. Another possibility that could be considered is that universities could also raise money from their partner organisations.

I have pledged at least £6500.

Identified Risks
The main risks that I have identified are as follows:-
  • Two health checks need to be passed successfully before being given the all clear to fly to space.  Although I am not expecting to fail these checks there are no guarantees. However in the event that I do fail, all money will be refunded.
  • The two main competing space tourism companies are XCOR and Virgin Galactic. I have chosen to fly with XCOR and will be guaranteed to be the first Welsh person in the first 100 to fly into space. I cannot guarantee when the first Welsh person will fly with Virgin Galactic but believe that the ticket price ($250000) will deter all but the rich and famous.
Other risks include the inability to raise the required ticket price, failure of XCOR to be able to complete their space plane or other unknown issues. As a first step only a pledge to pay SXC £6500 is required. No money needs to be paid until all 10 shares are taken. I have tried to limit the risk and cost to universities as much as I can.

Virgin Galactic has already completed one test flight. Virgin Galactic was due to start taking fare paying passengers into space sometime around December 2013 but this scheduled start date has now been postponed until early 2014.

XCOR has yet to complete a test flight but is progressing well and is closing the gap on Virgin Galactic. XCOR has indicated that the mark 1 Lynx space plane will fly in 2014. This will be closely followed by the mark 2 which will be capable of achieving sub orbital flight. The XCOR craft has a number of advantages over the Virgin craft including an extremely quick turnaround time allowing far more passengers to reach space, cheaper and sooner than Virgin passengers.

Although Virgin Galactic will probably be the first to take fare paying passengers on sub orbital flights I believe that XCOR will ultimately be the company that will be more successful in the long term.  

In order to make this venture a success I need to raise the required £65000 ticket price. This amount has been split into 10 equal amounts of £6500 of which I have pledged at least £6500. Up to 3 universities or 3 groups of universities can invest £6500. The remaining 6 shares are expected to be taken by Welsh companies/organisations.

XCOR need to successfully complete and fly the mark 1 and mark 2 space planes.