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Dr. George Sowers, Monday, 11-12-12 November 13, 2012

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Dr. George Sowers, Monday, 11-12-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1892-BWB-2012-11-12.mp3

Guest:  Dr. George Sowers.  Topics:  United Launch Alliance, Atlas 5, Delta IV, human rating Atlas and Delta.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://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 Dr. George Sowers, VP of Human Launch Services at ULA back to the show for a special one hour report on Atlas, Delta, human rating rockets, and much more.  Dr. Sowers started off by letting us know that ULA recently created the Human Launch Services Division with Dr. Sowers as the Vice-President.  Dr. Sowers then updated us on some of their more visible ULA activities since his last visit to The Space Show in January 2011, including probable SLS and Dream Chaser time lines, commercial crew participation and Orion tests in 2014.  We talked about the ULA role in commercial crew and what was needed to human rate the Atlas as well as the Delta IV.  I also asked about needed pad modifications for HSF with an Atlas and Dr. Sowers told us about modifications to Launch Complex 41 at the Cape for the upcoming crewed flights.  Listeners asked our guest lots of questions about safety, pad modifications, range safety issues, and the difference in human rating the Atlas as compared to a Delta.  Another question asked of our guest was to understand the contributing factors to the impressive launch success and safety rate for the Atlas rocket.  Dr. Sowers answered this in some detail with attention being paid to what is known at the 3 P’s.  Charles wanted to know about the Russian RD-180 engines & another listener wanted to know if ULA was feeling competitive “heat” from SpaceX. Yves in Montreal asked about the dual centaur having uses other than for commercial crew and Barbara wanted to know about the role of an Atlas for possible orbital tourism with a Bigelow space station module.  We talked about ULA’s potential interest in new spaceports which seem to be developing around the country, then I asked Dr. Sowers about what constituted a commercial space project. Here, we learned that commercial implies largely financed by private funds, not government money.  He said that EELV was developed by 80% private sector funding.  We also talked about the Arianne family of rockets and their pricing which is subsidized by European governments.  Dr. Sowers explained why it was so hard to compete against government subsidized pricing.  Another topic of interest in our discussion was launch vehicle market and pricing elasticity and how to drive up launch rates and lower launch costs.  We also talked about human spaceflight having the government as the primary leader for the market and cargo as having only an ISS market at this time.  On orbit propellant depots were discussed as was SLS and heavy lift.  As we neared the end of the hour, we talked about SRBs for the human rated Atlas.
     In our brief second segment, I went over the near term Space Show schedule and our last caller John from Florida called in to wonder if a real emergency came up if we would launch a crewed rocket/vehicle to try to save the ISS for example or would we be unwilling to take the risk and let the ISS deorbit in the example given.  Hopefully such a predicament does not arise.
     If you have comments/questions about our discussion with Dr. Sowers, please post them on The Space Show blog.

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