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Stewart Money, Friday, 3-9-12 March 10, 2012

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Stewart Money, Friday, 3-9-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1731-BWB-2012-03-09.mp3

Guest:  Stewart Money.  Topics:  We discussed EELV issues, the Air Force desire for a bulk buy of EELV services, Space X and more.  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. We welcomed Stewart Money to the program to discuss his recent Space Review articles.  The primary article he wrote which was the subject for today can be found at  www.thespacereview.com/article/1990/.  Stewart has Part 2 to this article coming up on The Space Review so be sure to look for it and read it when it is available.  During our first segment, Stewart talked about ULA and the proposed bulk buy of ULA rockets for the Air Force and the rising prices for EELV launches. This block buy has been raised into question by many including the GAO study with the thought that it should be expanded to allow for additional purchases from competing companies such as Space X or Orbital.  Google ULA Air Force bulk buy” for a list of news articles about this story.  Stewart received many questions about this because Falcon 9 is not yet operational and Falcon Heavy has not been built. Stewart talked about this in the context of Air Force requirements for availability, reliability, and the launch cost.  Our guest felt that since there was a gap of several years in the Air Force program, there should be time for Falcon 9 to prove itself without much of a downside to the Air Force or ULA if they needed to add in more EELV purchases due to any Space X problems that may arise. Part of our discussion centered on risk but as you will hear, Stewart was mostly focused on launch cost and believes that Space X will be a driving force to lower the cost of access to space.  Near the end of this segment, the stored Triana Satellite came up (It is now named the Deep Space Climate Observatory or DISCOVR) and how the Air Force might launch it on the Falcon 9.  During this segment, Stewart also referred to the Aerospace Corporation 3/7 Reliability Rule which says that if a failure occurs during the first three launches, the problem is probably a design issue. If failure occurs after the third successful launch but before the seventh, a production process issue is probable. Once a launch vehicle configuration launches successfully three times, its design has demonstrated maturity. If successfully launched seven times, the design & production process maturity are likely demonstrated. Check out this document for more detailed information on the 3/7 Reliability Rule: “Space Acquisitions: Uncertainties in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program Pose Management and Oversight Challenges” by the GAO at www.gao.gov/new.items/d081039.pdf.

In the second segment, we talked about the recent congressional testimony on the FY 13 budget with Congress and Administrator Bolden plus the testimony of Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Stewart boiled the problems down to the cost of space access and remained with the theme of solving that problem for the balance of our discussion.  We then talked more about testing, high priority payloads and normal payloads, how many flights would be needed for the Falcon 9 to fly a high priority payload and more.  We also talked about the difference in theory with a yet to be proven, operational launch vehicle being considered real as compared to an actual operating and flying vehicle as many confuse the two, counting the first one as real with real pricing when it is not even operational.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog URL above. If you would like to email Mr. Money, you can use the address at the end of his Space Review articles.

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