Executive Summary – 2019 NewSpace Business Plan Competition

Overview:  Phoenix Launch Systems, Inc. (DUNS # 117025293) was founded in January 2019 and is dedicated to developing responsive launch solutions and products for the nanosatellite industry.

What We Offer: Our business strategy relies on three core components – launch services, cubesat hardware and software – which allow us to provide a true turnkey, end-to-end space utilization solution to the problem of high launch prices with long lead times and lack of flexibility for the customer. Our solution is focused on the reusable three-stage Phoenix dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle and cubesat hardware product line.

The Market: The micro and nanosatellite market has experienced rapid growth over the past decade and is becoming the fastest growing segment in the space sector. The number of spacecraft launched averaged 51% YoY growth between 2005 and 2014. The2019 SpaceWorks Nano/Microsatellite Forecast estimates up to 2800 sub-50kg satellites will require launch from now through 2023. The nanosatellite and microsatellite market segment is projected to value at USD 2.5 billion in 2020, up from USD 889.5 million in 2015.

Of the projected launches, Earth observation accounts for 41%, technology development and scientific missions take another 30% and novel applications are 2%. These are our primary segments. Potential clients include government agencies such as DARPA and NASA, civilian entities such as Planet and Spire and the non-profit/academic sector. We believe these are the missions that fit with our unique characteristics which include:

  • Clients who require rapid, on-demand launch or which require quick turnaround;
  • Clients requiring deployment and maintainenance of large nanosatellite constellations;
  • Missions demanding specific orbits which are inaccessible through rideshare;
  • Spacecraft that need to be powered on and/or monitored real-time before deployment;
  • Clients desiring to launch spacecraft with irregular volume and mass envelopes.

Competitive Advantage: Phoenix Launch Systems, Inc. pursues an innovative launch service business model that provides unprecedented cost-effectiveness, schedule certainty and mission flexibility to the customer. We feature full price disclosure and services sold in a manner similar to airline ticketing. Regularly scheduled launches and one-month lead time to launch reduce lifecycle costs while customized orbits and on-demand launch capability fill a need that is not served by existing small launch systems.

The launch vehicle utilizes a proprietary low cost non-toxic and environmentally-friendly propellant that we have fully developed. Completely mobile, Phoenix will not rely on fixed infrastructure or on-site processing facilities and able to launch on short notice (<2 days) after arrival at the launch site.

Sales Projections: During the next two years, we will create positive cash flow from sales of our cubesat components and software to help the company be financially self-sufficient during R&D of the Phoenix launch vehicle. We project sales figures from 2021 to 2025 with steady growth and reaching full commercial capability by the year 2025. Our target price to LEO is $750,000 per launch which translates to a $34K/kg cost and 40% profit margin. Our nominal launch market share at full maturity will be a minimum of 50 launches annually, scalable to 200. This will enable us to reach break-even by Year 5.

Executive Team

Matthew Travis (CEO) – Mr. Travis is the Former COO at Aphelion Orbitals, Inc. from 2016 through the end of 2018 and an 18-year space industry veteran at Kennedy Space Center. Mr. Travis studied Aero/Astro Engineering and CS at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He also serves on the Executive Board of non-profit ARES Institute, Inc. where he facilitates space-related STEM partnerships.

Members of the Phoenix Launch Systems team include our strategic partners ARES Institute, Inc., our team of engineers and the support of industry vendors and partners. We are currently assembling an Advisory Board comprised of space industry and enterprise veterans and experts.

Funding Strategy: We are currently seeking to supplement internal funding and product sales with an investment of $1.5M. This will allow us to grow and complete qualification of the main propulsion system, AFTU and avionics. Broadly, we will be able to complete buildout of our manufacturing process, finalize design of the launch vehicle and position the company for an additional funding round in Year 2.

R&D Milestones Already Completed

  • Establish Founding Management and Advisors
  • Propulsion system and launch vehicle Preliminary Design Review
  • Design and assembly of mobile propulsion test facility
  • Rev. 1 first stage engine design, manufacture and hot-fire test
  • Third Stage sub-scale motor test fire
  • Cubesat systems design partially complete

Completed and Future Milestones

  • Initial manufacturing/assembly capability Fourth Quarter 2019
  • Software and Cubesat component web store sales Fourth Quarter 2019
  • CPU and AFTU suborbital test flight Second Quarter 2020
  • First Stage full cluster engine test fire Third Quarter 2020
  • Begin manufacture of first Phoenix vehicle 2020
  • Phoenix first stage suborbital flight test First Quarter 2021
  • Phoenix system commercial orbital launch 1st Half 2022