Key to Yetispace's culture is a willingness to “make mistakes as fast as possible,” he says, explaining: “There are 'n' mistakes required on the path to success. We don't know what n is, but it is not zero. So we need to make them early, when they are cheap and can go unnoticed. Too many companies wait till the end of the program to find out what works.”
“When we get a program, we brainstorm for a few days then put something together to find mistakes in the conops [operating concept]. Understanding the conops early is essential to staying on track. It greatly accelerates understanding,” he says, adding: “Often what kills a program is a fundamental truth that could have been figured out at the beginning.”
Yetispace has “a very serious plan” for where it wants to go, says Rhys. “We could have more work than we could handle, but we look for work in certain areas because my goal is to design, fabricate and deliver small deep-space chemical-propulsion stages.” An orbital capture stage for a Neptune probe or a Mars sample return stage are examples. “We are within a year or two of being able to offer the market an inexpensive and capable deep-stage propulsion stage,” he says.
“I see what SpaceX has achieved as very inspirational,” Rhys says. “I want to start from low Earth orbit and see how far out I can go. It might be for NASA, or for the Paul Allens of this world.” (Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Allen, with SpaceX creator Elon Musk, is behind the Huntsville-based Stratolaunch venture to dramatically reduce the cost of launching small satellites.)
Rhys believes the U.S. is on the cusp of an “unusual explosion” in space exploration “that will not look like the last 50 years. There are people with extraordinary wealth that they want to [dedicate to] amazing things. Imagine a totally privately funded Mars sample return mission: What is it worth to someone to be the first person with a Mars rock?”