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Bruce Pittman, Monday, 12-16-13 December 16, 2013

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Bruce Pittman, Monday, 12-16-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2144-BWB-2013-12-16.mp3

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Guest:  Bruce Pittman.  Topics:  Commercial space, new technologies, emerging space industries.  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. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed back to the show Bruce Pittman for a 1 hour 23 minute far ranging discussion on commercial space and related topics.  We started our first segment with the Planetary Sustainability Initiative.  More about this is available on the Sustainable Silicon Valley website, www.sustainablesv.org/ssv2013/index.php.  Bruce shared with us stories from the recent conference, including the fact that California Governor Jerry Brown attended and was involved in the discussions.  From this program, we talked about new technologies that could benefit life support for deep space missions including Mars as well as space technologies that could be used here on Earth.  Another example cited was the Bloom Box by Bloom Energy (www.bloomenergy.com).  Bruce also mentioned the SpaceX Raptor engine designed to use methane for BLEO missions.  In talking about 2013 commercial space, Bruce cited the successful end to the COTS program and we talked about emerging business opportunities on the ISS.  He also mentioned a change toward commercial space investments in the attitude of VC types in Silicon Valley.  In addition, he mentioned the blossoming cubesat and nanosat industry.  The Moon came up, especially in light of the recent Chinese lunar robotic lander and Bruce talked about the developing lunar and commercial space private ventures underway in the U.S. now.  Next, our guest was asked about public/private partnerships and here we had quite the discussion, especially with regards to some saying more government oversight was needed for commercial ventures.  Dave called in to continue the public private partnership discussion in light of the NASA Advisory Council and consideration toward applying such partnerships to heavy lift vehicles.  Bruce brought up the potential game changing technology for launch vehicle reusability.

In our second segment, our guest talked about the excitement ahead for 2014 given the advances with the suborbital companies, the potential start of space tourism, and more.  We talked about the Google Solve For X program focusing on fusion energy.  Bruce mentioned advances with LENR. Doug called to talk about the Space Act Agreement and budgeting issues for space and the private companies.  We concluded our discussion with a preview glance at the 2014 ISDC Conference to be held in Los Angeles in May.  The last listener question dealt with Mars One and Inspiration Mars. Bruce offered a few comments on both program.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  Bruce Pittman can be contacted through me.

Rick Boozer, Monday, 8-12-13 August 13, 2013

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Rick Boozer, Monday, 8-12-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2067-BWB-2013-08-12.mp3

Your Amazon Purchases Can Help Support The Space Show/OGLF (www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm)

Guest:  Rick Boozer.  Topics:  We discussed Rick’s book, “The Plundering of NASA: An Expose How Pork Barrel Politics Harm American Spaceflight Leadership,” SLS, space policy & more.  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. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed Rick Boozer to the program to discuss his new book, “The Plundering of NASA: An Expose How Pork Barrel Politics Harm American Spaceflight Leadership.”  The paperback version of the book is only available through Lulu Press at this time but the Kindle ebook is available through Amazon.  Remember, if you use the Amazon OGLF/Space Show instructions on our website & blog, Amazon will make a contribution to The Space Show.  Also, we apologize for audio issues due to cell phone usage with our guest and callers. During the first segment of our 1 hour 49 minute program, Rick introduced us to his book and I asked him to tell us why he structured the book as an exploration of certain common myths about many aspects of space, our space policy, engineering, economics, and physics.  Our guest suggested a lack of economic application and understanding  among certain levels of those making policy and working with rocket and mission design and he referenced an Air Force-NASA study on launch costs plus other facts in support of his research & discussion points.  His book is well documented so make sure you note his references, a few of which we talked about during our program.  Rick was asked about suborbital space but as we heard, his focus was on orbital.  He then mentioned SLS and various contracting options for commercial companies and NASA.  We received several email questions, including one that addressed FOIA limitations regarding NASA, launch cost data, and more.  The Ares rocket came up and Rick talked about going from Ares to SLS.

In the second segment, Rick continued the SLS architecture history and discussion & as it turned out, SLS, Falcon Heavy, heavy lift, and depots turned out to constitute most of the discussion for the remainder of our program.  Most of this discussion was not supportive of SLS for a variety of reasons. The discussion strongly supported the Falcon Heavy as being able to do any mission that might come up requiring heavy lift.  SpaceX reusability and first stage hovering was discussed, but listeners and our guest definitely focused on SLS costs or the absence of real SLS cost information.  John Strickland called in to provide his analysis of why SLS is flawed.  Doug called to ask about Earth-Moon commercial systems and keeping space infrastructure, etc. as a reason for SLS.  At my request, Rick clarified his position on these issues after Doug’s call.  Rick also cited the Kraft-Moser report on potential damage to space policy by SLS, plus we quickly went over other sections & topics in his book before the interview ended.  Near the end, we talked about advanced SpaceX manufacturing and cost reduction techniques.  As part of Rick’s closing comments, we talked about his PhD work, Magellanic Clouds, and more.

Please post comments/questions on The Space Show blog. Rick’s website is http://astromaven.blogspot.com.

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

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Hoyt Davidson, Sunday, 12-30-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1920-BWB-2012-12-30.mp3

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.

Dr. James Dewar, Sunday, 2-12-12 February 12, 2012

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Dr. James Dewar, Sunday, 2-12-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1711-BWB-2012-02-12.mp3

NUCLEAR THERMAL ROCKETS

Guest:  Dr. James (Jim) A. Dewar.  Topics:  Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR), changing paradigms to use the NTR from Earth launch, nuclear economics.  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 Dr. Dewar back to The Space Show to further discuss the Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) and his paradigm changing approach to use the NTR to launch from Earth rather than using it only in space.  During this nearly 2.5 hour discussion, Dr. Dewar makes the case for the NTR based on probable economics, the previous history associated with NERVA, and the assumed benefits flowing to private companies engaged in public private partnerships along the lines Dr. Dewar described.  In the first segment, Dr. Dewar started out describing the existing barriers to using the NTR to LEO rather than only in space, plus he referred us to his 29 page introductory paper which is available on The Space Show blog for your download and review.  During this segment, we fielded many listener emails and calls wanting to discuss the NTR ISP, possible fuels, testing, and legal issues impacting the use of the nuclear rocket. Michael called and talked about the discussions for a new treaty, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) and how that would adversely impact using the NTR.  Dr. Dewar talked about treaty issues over the years and suggested that treaties are not that easy to establish in this era while suggesting that they could also be modified.  Near the end of the first segment, questions about thorium came up as did questions about additional commercial uses for the nuclear engine here on Earth. 

In the second longer segment, we talked about winning over the public and the media.  Charles Pooley called in with a set of questions and we talked about reentry vehicles, highly enriched uranium, and more.  Jim described a Titan missile accident in Arkansas as an example of the safety controls even in a very large explosion.  Another listener asked about cooling and Jim told us about pulse cooling.  Dr. Dewar’s air launch idea was brought up again by another caller andMarshall sent in an email inquiring about the nuclear engine replacing coal in our terrestrial power plants to make electricity.  I asked Dr. Dewar about risk assessment for the nuclear rocket and reprocessing given terrorism, etc.  He said the reprocessed material would be carefully guarded but also weighed against the environmental risks associated with burying waste, burning it, or even dumping waste in the ocean.  Dr. Dewar was asked about using the nuclear rocket only in space rather than attempting to use it to launch from Earth.  He compared using it only in space to the Pony Express. Don’t miss his full response in replying to this question.  Later in this segment, I asked Jim for his first step in advancing the NTR.  He said the first step was to get people talking about the subject.  Tom called in and also wondered how to get people to rally to the cause.  Near the end of the program, Jim talked some more about potential economic benefits along with secondary commercial products such as heat pipes.  As our program was ending ion engines came up as did Vasimr.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.  If you want to contact Dr. Dewar, send your note to me for forwarding.

To download and read Dr. Dewar’s paper, see below:

A Technical and Economic Introduction to Nuclear Rockets

A Technical Note on Nuclear Rockets-1

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