This week, the Miles Team Weekly Topic rotation starts over in its four topic rotation and we will be discussing a topic relevant to the NASA Cube Quest Challenge once again.
This week’s topic will be about sharing our ideas and technical information, how we must be careful, and in what instances we must observe ITAR regulations in the process. Next week we will again cover the details surrounding satellite communication and what teams are choosing to utilize, then a topic relevant to the different types of cube sat propulsion the following week, and ending the second cycle by discussing a topic related to the competitors in the challenge.
Sharing knowledge in this industry can be a very sensitive topic. The decision-making process of what to share, when to share it, where to share it, and how it will be shared can have some unpleasant, unintended consequences if a multitude of perspectives are not taken into account. Space is hard and every little improvement can make the difference between saving millions of dollars from extremely high rates of failure and a multitude of challenges and risks. This topic is very relevant at this point in time during the Cube Quest Challenge due to the proximity of our recent Ground Tournament Two documentation submittals, the presentation and Q&A with the NASA judges, and the Marcus Evans ITAR conference.
ITAR is the broadest, over-arching set of requirements when it comes to working in or contributing to the space industry in the United States. ITAR stands for International Traffic in Arms Regulations and this broad set of requirements, along with EAR (Export Administration Regulations), are the two bodies of regulations that contain the rules, enforced by the United States Federal Government, to ensure that defense related technology (or technology that could be used as such) does not fall into the wrong hands. For our team, it means that we cannot share any of our information with foreign entities that fall under the domain of the United States Munitions List or under ITAR. This is not as burdensome to us as it is to other small industry companies since we do not currently seek to sell our technology abroad. However, we can import space technology which is allowed under ITAR. In fact, we have selected Clyde Space in Ireland, to fill some of our technology gaps.
However, under the domain of ITAR, we had to take special precaution on how we store and exchange our data. For secure document storage, we partnered with RegDOX to comply with these requirements. Our team lead, Wes, travelled to the Marcus Evans ITAR conference last week, put it as such:
“You know you’ve got a real spaceship design when the government considers its plans dangerous to export. That’s how the ITAR laws first show up – a warm pat on the back saying we’re doing well. Then the cold reality of legalese and management actions to stay in compliance. Last week, Team Miles presented at the Marcus Evans ITAR conference, sharing our experience and the insights of our sponsor RegDOX.”
For our readers, when we submitted over one-thousand pages of technical detail to NASA for our Ground Tournament Two submission, we uploaded it via the contest’s large file transfer service, which constitutes a secure, encrypted means of document transfer from our secure RegDOX dataroom to NASA’s servers.
Speaking of transferring information, NASA is hosting a “Meet the Competition” press event to introduce the competitors of Ground Tournament 2 on March 3, 2016. at 4:00 PM ET! How much should we share to get potential sponsors, partners, and the public interested yet still retain our competitive advantage and to a lesser degree, comply with ITAR? Here is to hoping that the other teams are in the mood for some regulatory-compliant oversharing!
Follow us and check out our tweets @MilesSpace for the upcoming NASA “Meet the Competition” event!