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Hoyt Davidson, Sunday, 12-30-12 December 30, 2012

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Hoyt Davidson, Sunday, 12-30-12


Guest:  Hoyt Davidson.  Topics:  Commercial space financing, markets, and risks.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information.  We welcomed Hoyt Davidson to the program to discuss commercial space from the perspective of markets and financing.  Mr. Davidson, founder and managing Partner of near Earth LLC (www.nearearthllc.com) shared with us his expertise and experience in a very instructive discussion on these important topics.  While much of the focus was on the commercial satellite industry, the applications apply across the board in the commercial space industry.  One of the topics we discussed in great detail was market risk. In fact, our gust suggested market risk was a bigger challenge and more of a possible road block than technical or regulatory risks.  Mr. Davidson also said what many others in the commercial space arena say and that is that the companies prefer to see themselves within their overall general industry such as media and communications rather than as a space company.  We talked about several popularly touted possible commercial space industries from a market perspective, the length of time needed for a return on investment, and what is referred to as Death Valley for space entrepreneurs.  Death Valley refers to an opportunity being too large for an angel investor but too small for venture capital.  In talking about market risks, we also talked about getting investor partners to strengthen the deal. XM Radio was cited as an example.  The pursuit of market research was discussed, both from the perspective of using a market research company and doing the market research in-house. Other potential commercial space industries were examined including space tourism, citizen science for orbital with cubesats as well as suborbital, space solar power, satellite internet services, and the use of public/private partnerships.

In our second segment, a listener wanted to know about space focused investment banking career opportunities for MBA graduates.  Next, we talked at length about public/private partnerships and being “pure” regarding what constitutes a commercial space company.  In this context, pure refers to not having a mix of government and private capital, instead being 100% private. SpaceX with Cots and Commercial Crew served as one of our company examples but we also noted that no such 100% pure private company was out there given the costs and challenges of space ventures.  Listeners asked about private capital financing for NASA science missions such as a Europa mission.  Other listeners wanted to know about commercial opportunities for human spaceflight. Here, our guest suggested the opportunities were more with the robotic missions that come before the human missions.  Toward the end, a listener asked how higher tax rates might impact risky commercial space investments.  We also talked about geographical areas of special investment expertise in the U.S. and in other countries. Silicon Valley is not the only player in this field.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  You can email Hoyt Davidson through me or by using his website.

Josh Neubert, Friday, 12-16-11 December 16, 2011

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Josh Neubert, Friday, 12-16-11


 Guest:  Josh Neubert.  Topics:  Night Rover Challenge, NASA Centennial Challenges, educational outreach.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  The Space Show/OGLF is now engaged in its annual fundraising drive. Please see & act upon our appeal at http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/space-show-2011-fundraising-campaign.  We welcomed Josh Neubert back to the program to discuss the  NASA Centennial Challenge, The Night Rover Challenge.  Please visit these websites for more information and email alerts:  www.nightrover.org and www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/early_stage_innovation/centennial_challenges/night_rover/index.html.  This was a one hour discussion without a break.  Josh started out by describing the Night Rover Challenge which is to develop mobile systems to collect solar energy, store that energy, and later use it productively.  The innovation will consolidate in a contest for simulated lunar rovers maximizing energy to run for two weeks day and night and survive the cold lunar night.  Josh told us about the Challenge time line and the sole focus on solar power and storage.  As you will hear, the prize is $1.5 million with first, second, and third place winners.  Terry asked technical questions about the potential battery packs and the maximum size of the rovers.  We learned that the biggest size would probably be in the range of the Curiosity rover on the way to Mars with a much smaller size on the other end of the measurements.  Michael asked if the power sources would be required to meet the legal standards required under international law to preserve the environment of outer space in regards to potential hazardous materials that may contaminate the outer space environment. Josh said yes, those standards would be part of the requirements for the competition.  Several listeners asked if non-U.S. citizens could participate in the Challenge and if there were ITAR considerations.  We learned that non-U.S. citizens could participate but were not eligible to win the prize money.  I asked who was most likely to participate in the challenge. Josh suggested students of all ages and grades, plus the do it yourself community, entrepreneurs, smaller businesses, etc.  We also talked about sponsorship opportunities as NASA does not cover operating expenses.  Another listener asked about the use of social media for the Night Rover outreach program.  As you will hear, this Challenge will make use of both social media and collaboration in getting the message out and participants in the challenge.  Near the end of the program, we discussed the proximity ofSilicon Valley, NASA Ames, and the significance of these communities to all the contestants involved in the challenge.  Josh closed by stressing how this program inspires, excites, and jump starts the best and the brightest to innovate, be creative, and to produce!  If you have questions about the Night Rover Challenge, there is a contact link on their website.  Please post your Space Show comments/questions on the blog URL above.


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