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Commercial Space Panel Brief Case Study on 1 recent commercial space program and the work/design philosophy that drove low cost as well as success July 28, 2010. Dynetics purchased Orion Propulsion in December 2009, resulting in a mutually beneficial partnership.

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Commercial Space PanelBrief Case Study on 1 recent commercial space program and the work/design philosophy that drove low cost as well as success July 28, 2010

bringing together the strengths of two reputable companies

Dynetics purchased Orion Propulsion in December 2009, resulting in a mutually beneficial partnership.

Bringing Together the Strengths of TwoReputable Companies
  • Dynetics has delivered high-quality, high-value engineering, scientific, and information technology solutions to customers within the U.S. government and a range of other market segments since 1974.
  • Dynetics has invested capital and other resources in its Space Systems Division, and the purchase of Orion further represents the company’s continued commitment to provide responsive, affordable space products and services.
  • Started in Huntsville Alabama with 1300 employees
  • Orion’s capabilities are enhanced and strengthened through this partnership. Orion’s products integrate into Dynetics’ larger systems, enabling more offerings to an even wider range of customers.
rapid responsive and affordable space solutions
Rapid, Responsive, and Affordable Space Solutions
  • Micro-satellite Development and Operations (FASTSAT)
  • End-to-End Missile Defense and ASAT Modeling and Simulation
  • Liquids and Solids
  • Components and Systems
  • Fabrication
  • Engineering Services
  • Testing
  • Space Weather
  • Data Analysis from Space Observatories
  • EO/IR
  • Radar
  • Laser
  • Acoustic, Magnetic, Seismic
  • Thin Film Sensors
  • Flight Platforms Integration
  • Ascent and Orbital Flight Mechanics
  • Propulsion Integration
  • Structural Analysis
  • Targets and Precision Guided Weapons
if someone built it would they really come
If someone built it, would they really come?

Things you might ponder before starting a space company:

Is there really a sub-orbital launch market?

Why have so many space start-ups failed?

Is there an orbital launch market for US launch providers without the US government?

Can a US company compete in a world market without ITAR protecting certain niche markets?

How do you build a space company with little or no money or risks?


Multiple Space Start-ups Failed! Why?Major space company efforts fell short for various reasons i.e. financial, political, technical, management, market, other. How could I avoid these pitfalls?


These are only a few of the many that have failed.

if we only had cheap access i am sure the free market would breed competition for cheap access
“If we only had cheap access, I am sure the free market would breed competition for cheap access.”
what is the right recipe to make a space company succeed
What is the right recipe to make a space company succeed?

No launch vehicles

Hardware 1st

Support all primes and subs on anything that makes fire and smoke or tests things that produce fire and smoke

Try to have a balance of customers i.e DoD, NASA, Commercial.

Embrace local technical customer 1st, then reach out

Don’t bite off more than we can chew-many lessons learned here.

Creative marketing is free-Press and PR are wonderful avenues to get message out.

what would be the ideal environment structure be to rapidly develop a low cost aerospace systems
What would be the Ideal environment/structure be to rapidly develop a low cost Aerospace Systems?
  • Skunk-works- Model an environment similar to Kelly Johnson’s “Skunkworks” as it existed in the early 1950’s
  • Unlimited Resources- Unlimited $ Resources Experienced Team
  • We know how to build rockets- Seasoned and experienced core leadership/engineering Team assembled and ready to go conquer
  • Hands-off- Unencumbered work environment with streamlined procurement
  • Lean- Streamlined traceable development program without all the hardcore bells and whistles found in large primes with traditional Quality Systems. Development environment ideally where engineering and manufacturing would exist underneath same roof
  • Development to production- Near the final Phase I production engineers would begin to shadow the development team, and once the development Phase I was completed, the design would be handed off to a to a seasoned production team for a full blown IS9001/AS9100 Certified production process. This assumes it become an operational/fielded system.
selling shovels to miners
Selling Shovels to Miners

Orion Propulsion Inc.

Rocket engines design, Fabrication, Fire and Smoke.

No launch vehicles!

Orion Propulsion, Inc.
  • Founded in 2004 grew to 40 employees with broad aerospace background - Sold to Dynetics in December 2009
  • Fundamental belief in hands-on engineering
  • Specializing in affordable Aerospace Hardware and Engineering Services
  • In a nut-shell, we design, build, and test stuff that makes usable thrust to propel rockets, spacecrafts, and other fun stuff.
  • Sometimes we design, build, and operate equipment to test the customer’s stuff used to make the fire and smoke.
history of orion propulsion
History of Orion Propulsion
  • Founded in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2004, with the Vision of Providing Affordable, Reliable, and Complete Aerospace Solutions to a Declining U.S. Customer Base
  • Combined Proven Propulsion and Aerospace Design with Streamlined Manufacturing Processes and Innovative Engineering
  • Implemented Technology/R&D Innovations
  • Acquired and Maintained Diversified Customer Base: Commercial, Department of Defense, NASA
  • Earned Support from Huntsville Space Community by Meeting Delivery Schedules and Cost Expectations
  • Recruited Strategic Team Members to Invest in Company Success through Stock Ownership
  • Grew to 40 Employees in Five Years
  • Earned AS-9100 Certification
business philosophy

Minimal Risk Approach (Growth by Small Steps)

Specialized/Affordable Products and Services

Innovative Hardware Solutions

Product Diversification

Streamlined Processes

Hand-Selected Staff (Highly Experienced in Hardware)

Broad Customer Base

“Think-Outside-the-Box” Marketing

Business Philosophy
orion propulsion revenue and market distribution
Orion Propulsion Revenue and Market Distribution

2009 Sales:

$6.4 million

$ Millions



Orion Propulsion Revenue and Market Distribution


propulsion test and evaluation processes and facilities

Safe, rapid, low-cost testing capabilities

Hot fire, cold gas, and cryogenic liquids

Coupon materials to full stage stands

Design, fabrication, and installation of test stands

Multiple reinforced test cells

Bi-propellant liquid, solid, and hybrid rocket engines


Mobile data and control trailer

Cryogenic propellant test rig

Water-cooled thrust chambers

Vacuum chamber with cold (LN2) walls and heat lamps installed for space environ/thermal testing

Tank burst cell and polycarbonate hydro proof/burst chamber

Portable test stands, test carts, and trailers for liquid and gas delivery

Propulsion:Test and Evaluation Processes and Facilities


Stand Development


Hot-Fire Test Cells

Thermal Vac

Mobile Operations

bigelow aerospace attitude control system

Bigelow contracted with Orion Propulsion to design and deliver forward end attitude control system (ACS) for Sundancer -- the commercial space habitat capable of supporting crew for 15 years

The ACS designed by Orion uses the hydrogen and oxygen bi-products from Sundancer's environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) to generate the propellants for the thrusters. The forward ACS will be used for both attitude manipulation and momentum wheel de-saturation.

Bigelow Aerospace Attitude Control System
dynetics over the last six months
Dynetics Over the Last Six Months
  • Designed, built, and tested four new hydrogen peroxide rocket engines ranging in thrust from 10 lbf-600 lbf.
  • Test fired the largest nitrous-ethane liquid rocket booster. Tested two weeks ago at Redstone test area. Produced almost 3000 lbf for 60 secs.