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Dr. Mike Griffin, Tuesday, 10-29-13 October 30, 2013

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Dr. Mike Griffin, Tuesday, 10-29-13


Guest:  Dr. Mike Griffin.  Topics:  This was a wide ranging and broad discussion re US space policy, commercial space, HSF, lunar issues, & more.  . 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. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm

During the first segment of our 91 minute discussion with Mike, we talked about the lack of a coherent national space policy and how best to use tax payer dollars for the public good.  Mike discussed the fact that there was no credible alternative to the RTM program, no clear path to any set of discernible goals.  I asked Mike about NASAs asteroid redirect mission.  He did say it had interesting potential and it was better than nothing but as listeners agreed, it was not a grabbing and inspiring program.  Listeners asked Mike about Constellation which he said was a space system architecture.  We talked about a lunar base and access to Mars.  I asked Mike about the public’s interest in space & you don’t want to miss his response.  Daniel brought up budget issues, commercial ventures, and the current administration.  We also talked public/private partnerships and multi-year programs and policy challenges.  Mike was asked about the VSE and bipartisan support though Jon emailed in his disagreement on that issue.  Mike talked about goals as being important to congress and the need for an effective policy to have bipartisan support.  Mike was asked about the ISS and the potential for discovery and we he responded to a listener question about the mass needed in orbit to support a lower mass on the Moon.  The ratio is 10::1. 

In the second segment, June asked about economies of size in launch vehicles and heavy lift.  Barbara emailed in about a COTS like program for HSF.  Trent called from Australia to inquire about Stratolaunch.  Doug called to ask about cislunar development and what a program that supported that development might look like.  Mike had much to say on this subject, don’t miss it.  We talked extensively about the role of government and the private sector, including government subsidies.  A listener talked about scientific discovery and serendipity.  John asked about the Ares 1 vibration and solids in comparison to liquids for safety.  John in Ft. Worth asked Mike about SLS and Orion as a capabilities holding program and Mike agreed.  The idea is to maintain capabilities until the time they can be used.  During the entire program, I asked Mike about his public service, how he dealt with attacks and criticism, and how he got his interest in space.  This is an important discussion. 

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.


1. Jeffrey Smith - November 14, 2013

I wanted to ask you about why the focus was on the Ares I during his time at NASA instead of the Ares V? I didnt work there, so from the fact that Ares-IX flight occurred, and no comparable flight occurred for the Ares-V, that the significant resources that COULD have gone to the Ares V instead went to to Ares I and its flight test.

The reason I ask is because of the seeming redundancy in America’s capability, Ares I didn’t lift more weight than existing launchers AND it the configuration was significantly different from what had flown with the shuttle. On the other hand, Ares V offered a launch capability not seen since the Saturn V and the basic configuration had already flown during the Shuttle program and hence greatly reduced risk.

2. Space-for-All at HobbySpace » Space policy roundup – Nov.3.13 - November 3, 2013

[…] Dr. Mike Griffin, Tuesday, 10-29-13 – Thespaceshow’s Blog […]

3. Dwayne Day - November 1, 2013


Mr. Smith. Okay. Thank you for that.
My last question is this. There has been some discussion
about the definition of “commercial” as it is applied to
commercial crew and cargo programs. What percentage of the
funding for those programs comes from the private sector and
what percentage of the funding comes form NASA?
Mr. Gerstenmaier. It varies by each one of the participants
in the Space Act the amount, and it is proprietary to the
companies the exact percentage, but there is a contribution by
them. It is smaller in some cases and larger in other cases.
Mr. Smith. Overall, it has been my understanding that 80 or
90 percent of the funding comes from NASA. Is that a ballpark
legitimate figure?
Mr. Gerstenmaier. I would say the majority of the funding
is coming from NASA for this activity.

4. jimjxr - November 1, 2013

A quick note on government provides major funding for development (i.e. COTS and CCDev in its current form): It’s not uncommon in the commercial world for a client to provide development cost, at least that’s the common practice in customized software development.

And I think we can argue the government is getting a very good deal here: Total cost for COTS is about $700 million, what the government gets in the end are 2 new launchers with 5 orbital test flights, 2 new cargo spacecrafts with 3 orbital test flights. Now comparing this to the Ares I program, which is estimated to cost $28 billion initially (and the cost may rise to $40 billion), and its prototype Ares I-X, which costs $445 million for one sub-orbital test flight, I’d say the government is getting a bargain from the COTS program.

Trent Waddington - November 1, 2013

Oh, so basically you just accepted Mike’s declaration that the commercial crew program is majority funded by the government? He provided no evidence for that claim, and it’s the exact opposite of what NASA and the partners are saying. Of course, exactly how much is being spent by the partners is proprietary information, so the only way they could “prove” that Mike is wrong is by revealing their financials.. which they won’t do.. so it’s a pretty safe claim for him to make, assuming no-one ever demands evidence for the claim.

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