A Proposal for a Space Hub Incubator in Magurele [SHIM], Laser Valley
Developing the economy of Eastern Europe is a high priority for the EU.
The EU is interested to develop and advance the space technology of Europe
Romania has high potential to develop a strong and competitive industry of space technology. The technology to build these is within the grasp of any country, and many of the these spacecraft have been flown from many small countries, including Romania. Romania has a large pool of educated and motivated talent to work in this field.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend globally to develop smaller spacecraft. Specifically, a standard called CubeSats has been developed, a cube of 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. The technology to build these is within the grasp of any country, and many of the threes spacecraft have been flown from many small countries, including Romania. The commercial market for CubeSats and their derivatives is large and expanding. Romania can certainly capture a substantial market share.
In Romania, the following will be possible:
- Develop complete new CubeSat designs
- Integrate and test CubeSats from other countries
- Develop components and subsystems of cubesats, such as Reaction Wheels, and data modems
- Manufacture components under license of other countries
In the longer term, successful technologies for cubesat components developed in Romania can be “scaled up to be included in larger spacecraft developed by ESA or in other countries.
Another local project with synergy to SHIM is a nanosatellite launcher which has already received EU funding to develop the first two stages. They need additional funding to build the third and final stage. SHIM proposes a crowdfunding campaign for that.
SHIM proposes to facilitate and accelerate the process of developing the above fields as described below.
- Provide free or low rent office space and laboratory space to qualified space companies
- Provide a Clean Room for working with cubesat components or systems, this might cost € 1M to 2M to set up, depending on the size. Alternatively, use the facilities of ISS (Romania).
- An RF Test Facility, this is specifically requested by our CubeSats partner, to develop their space modem, could cost € 1M to 2M to set up. Alternatively, use the facilities of ISS (Romania).
- Provide a CubeSat standard ground station [UHF] to communicate with Cubesats of Romania and other countries, and to participate in international CubeSat tracking networks, thus providing global tracking coverage to Romanian CubeSat operators. Alternatively, use the facilities of ISS (Romania).
- Provide training, a comprehensive mentoring program and advice to space companies
- To recruit space companies to participate
- To help with marketing and identifying customers
- To help with fundraising campaigns, e.g. Equity Crowdfunding in USA and other countries. New rules in USA allow raising $1M per year by public offering of shares to small investors.
- Negotiate partnerships with established space related institutes and companies in Romania to achieve access to existing manufacturing and test facilities which could be of benefit to small companies, e.g. wind tunnels at INCAS, facilitates at ISS, etc.
- The incubator will work with commercial launch providers and the European Space Agency to provide incubated companies with their initial access to space.
The SHIM would be incorporated as a for profit company under Romanian law, with officers and directors to include: Charles Radley and Geo Scripcariu.
The SHIM will assemble a Board of Advisers of experienced and respected space technology experts in Romania and around the world. This Board will be available to provide advice and mentorships to companies who join the SHIM program.
Example Business Model:
SHIM will enable the construction of cubesats in Romania by providing limited one-time free access to capital facilities, e.g. Clean Room, Test Facilities, Ground station. The policy of SHIM will be to provide support to any organization to build one cubesat. Construction of follow on cubesats will not be supported for free, but instead will be provided on a cost reimbursed basis, for actual and reasonable costs. Depending on availability of other sources of funding, the SHIM might need to charge a fee in addition to recovering expense costs.
A good example of the costs of a cubesat project is that of the Marcopolo project, of Georgia Tech, in the USA, shown at this web link:
http://www.propagation.gatech.edu/ECE6390/project/Sum2015/team5/budget.html is summarized as follows [for a 13-year project]:
- Satellite Equipment [flight Hardware] $11,742,956
- Ground Station Equipment $1,400,000
- Engineering Personal $9,495,000
- Facilities and Equipment $5,000,000
- Launch cost $15,800,000
- Total cost $43,437,956
The cost of imported components will be the same in Romania as in any other country, and that is most of the cost. The area where Romania would be cheaper would be in the area of “Engineering Personnel & Facilities”.
USA personnel: $9,495,000
USA facilities: $5,000,000
In Romania, we believe we can easily be 50% or half of those numbers.
This represents total cost savings of about 15% of the total project cost.
If we count on the EU to pay all the upfront capital costs for the facilities and ground station, then that eliminates another $6.4M, assuming the operating costs of the facilities is negligible.
That results in total project cost of [US dollars]
The zero numbers assume EU pay all capital cost and the operating cost is negligible.
Romania cost of $32.3 M versus USA cost of $43.4 M is a saving of about 25% for the total project cost.
In the long term the cost of the Cubesat Flight Hardware could be reduced somewhat by either a) developing Romanian sourced components or b) manufacturing foreign components under license in Romania, but this will require additional capital cost to set up manufacturing capabilities.