By: Phil Trent
Date: June 16, 2002
You may have heard about “Rocket Guy” who plans on launching himself into space. Brian Walker dreamed of becoming an astronaut; now the numerous toys he has invented has given him enough resources to attempt it. He is building a rocket to travel 30 miles up, orbit the earth a bit and parachute to the ground. His fuel is 90% hydrogen peroxide, which reacts with a silver catalyst and expands to six times its volume.
If successful, Walker’s effort will be the first privately-funded space program ever. It could inspire individuals and companies to put serious efforts into making space travel far more common than it is today.
Below is email correspondence that we had regarding some possible assistance to his project.
From: Phil Trent
To: Brian Walker
Assistance: Wireless data communications. We have a unit that will send serial data about 20 miles (with boosters a lot further). Here is the unit. We could loan you one at some point. This could send your GPS coordinates or other information to "ground control" and disperse this live over the internet.
Qualifications: My degree is marketing with about seven years of experience. I could help you form a marketing plan to get corporate sponsors. Perhaps you could sell company decals for a certain amount or paint them if aerodynamics is a problem. Another idea is to have a venture capital group sponsor you - I know some people in this area.
Mr. Walker, I feel that if we wait around for NASA to do something, our great grandchildren won't have the option of space travel. To me, what you are doing is essence of what America should stand for: the freedom to create a better future for tomorrow.
From: Brian Walker
Thanks for your message and offer of assistance. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.
The product you refer to looks like it could do the job I need for telemetry. I am hoping to "beam back" a live image from one of the 6-8 onboard cameras I intend to carry with me.
Concerning sponsorships, I have been giving a lot of thought to this lately. I just returned from a meeting in DC with the Commercial Space Transport division of the FAA. They are very impressed and enthused about what I am doing, and want to be able to issue me a launch license. I just have to make sure I do things in a correct manner.
I have (so far) done all the work on this project myself, and have been self-funding. I could continue doing this through completion, so I will not be giving up anything significant. I do have a plan to turn a portion of this into a profit-making commercial venture immediately after my trip.
Right now, I am entering a forced slow down period. Over the past 4-1/2 years, I have put in an average of 10 hour days, 7 days a week. Now that I am bringing a wife and son into my life, I need some time to adjust to that, and to take a good long look at where I've been; where I am, and where I am headed.
From: Phil Trent
Our maximum baud rate is 19,200 over-the-air. It is enough for sub-centimeter GPS positional data updates of five times a second so it should be enough for your project. Speaking of GPS, I deal with several companies in that industry, and they are all hyper accurate. Let me know if you need GPS - quite possibly I could get a unit for you.
Wireless video is another matter. Our data rate could only sustain delayed video at best. I would suggest you ask the Commercial Space Transport division for a reference of companies that have that kind of technology. Real can do pretty good with 28.8 streaming video, but it is a small picture. Perhaps getting special FCC permission to broadcast a temporary TV signal would be the best.
Even though investors would give up some interest in the business, sponsorship would allow you to keep all the ownership. Companies would do this for the exposure and the venture would still be 100% yours. The best example I can give is Nascar; they have corporate sponsors everywhere.
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