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William (Bill) Harwood, Sunday, 11-24-13 November 25, 2013

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William (Bill) Harwood, Sunday, 11-24-13


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Guest: William (Bill) Harwood.  Topics:  SpaceX Falcon 9 GEO Launch, space policy, suborbital issues and 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.

We welcomed Bill Harwood, the CBS News space consultant to the show.  During the first segment of our 90 minute program, Bill told us about his press conference and briefing with Elon Musk, the CTO from SES, the company sending the first GEO bird to orbit on the Falcon 9 on Monday afternoon, 11-25-13, and Ms. Shotwell of SpaceX.  Most of the first segment was spent discussing the press conference, the comments about the launch made by all participants, the challenges of doing the first GEO launch for the new Falcon 9 V1.1 and more.  Not only did Bill go over the details of the launch and the SES satellite orbital insertion, plus the Falcon 9 plans for second stage firing and getting in position for the satellite to take over for its part, we talked about SpaceX launch costs, we compared the Falcon 9 costs as best we could to the Arianne and the ILS Proton costs.  Bill was asked about the thoughts of the Falcon 9 competition and what it might mean for a SpaceX success with their first GEO launch.  Also in this segment, Bill was asked about Inspiration Mars, SLS, & Orion.  Other topics included space settlement, suborbital flight, Virgin Galactic, robotic missions, and the why that justifies HSF.  As the segment was ending, a listener asked about the Florida space coast economy and its economic recovery.

In the second segment, Bill was asked if SpaceX was creating a new market or taking market share from the existing competition.  We talked about NASA story telling for a better space policy, the JFK legacy, & space being treated by many as a luxury.  I asked Bill about the private sector being able to kick start space industry development and Bill responded with information how hard space was, especially orbital space which requires speeds of 85 football fields per second.  Dream Chaser and its recent accident were discussed and there was lots of listener support for Dream Chaser as there was from our guest.  More was said about the potential market for suborbital tourism and flights.  Bill was asked about the biggest change over the years in his covering space issues and he said it was the change in politics.  I asked him about his reporting during both Challenger and Columbia. As the program closed, Bill was asked about the ISS, commercial development for the station, and the need to keep the station going beyond 2020.

Post your comments/questions to The Space Show blog above.  You can email Mr. Harwood through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.



1. Dwayne Day - November 28, 2013

Harwood is a true professional and one of the best space journalists in the business.

I would add one note (and would have called in about this if I had been listening live): the prices listed on SpaceX’s website for their launches are not all inclusive costs. They leave out some things like payload integration. Thus, when comparing the cost of a SpaceX launch to another vehicle, it is important to realize that they are not equivalent. SpaceX is cheaper, but not by as much as the website price implies. Jeff Foust had a TSR article awhile back (I cannot find it) that quoted a NASA official about the price that NASA was paying for various launch vehicles. It noted that the NASA price was higher than the SpaceX website price, and explained why.

I should also add that when I was at a space transportation workshop a couple of years ago there was a view among those present (both from the launch industry and the comsat industry) that SpaceX will raise their prices after they gain a few commercial launches under their belt. Somebody pointed out that it has been typical for companies to offer lower initial prices to attract contracts, then raise the prices once they are established and need to start earning back their investment.

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