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Stewart Money, Friday, 9-14-14 September 20, 2014

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Stewart Money, Friday, 9-14-14


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Guest:  Stewart Money.  Topics:  Stewart discussed SpaceX per his new book, “Here Be Dragons: The Rise of SpaceX and the Journey to Mars.”  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 http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Stewart Money to the show to discuss his new ApogeePrime published book, “Here Be Dragons: The Rise of SpaceX and the Journey to Mars”  You can get much more information by visiting http://www.innerspace.net along with http://www.apogeeprime.com/prime/bookpages/9781926837338.html, and http://www.amazon.com/Here-Dragons-Rise-Spacex-Journey/dp/1926837339/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411235694&sr=8-1&keywords=here+be+dragons+the+rise+of+SpaceX+and+the+Journey+to+Mars.  Remember, if you buy this great book through Amazon, use the OGLF Amazon portal (instructions on the OGLF & Space Show websites plus all archived programs on the blog and The Space Show website) & Amazon will make a contribution to The Space Show.  During the first segment of our 90 minute program, Stewart explained why he wanted to write a book about SpaceX to tell the story from the beginning up to current SpaceX history.  We spent lots of time talking about the early days including the Mars Oasis Project, the forming of SpaceX in 2002 and the three questions that Elon asked prior to starting the company.  Stewart’s book and our discussion take you step by step through the emergence of SpaceX through each stage of its development.  Even if you are familiar with the SpaceX story or the basics, you will learn much from the book as well as listening to Stewart as he narrates the SpaceX story and responds to listener email questions along with my comments.  Some of the questions asked him were for the biggest challenges Elon and SpaceX faced plus the most important successes.  He was asked for the origin of Elon’s interest in Mars and if the Mars interest was a company wide passion and belief.  In response to a question about the biggest SpaceX failure, Stewart said it was the inability to enter the EELV national security launch program on his timing.

In the second segment, a listener wanted to compare the SLS, Falcon Heavy, and MCT with one another.  Questions were asked about the unveiling of the Dragon V.2 as Stewart attended the ceremony.  Others wanted to know about SpaceX launch sites at the Cape & in Texas.  Andrew asked about SpaceX PR & damage control when necessary, Dana asked if SpaceX was interested in space tourism & Larry asked about reusability.  Stewart said it was a core value for the company.  Stewart provided us with a good, brief summary of our discussion and what he considered to be a priority take away from our discussion.

Please post comments/questions on TSS blog. You can reach Stewart through me.



1. jimjxr - September 21, 2014

Sounds like an interesting book, will definitely get a copy.

With regard to the listener’s question SLS, Falcon Heavy, and MCT, I want to add that the big problem with SLS is the cost, both development and operational, it’s just unbelievably expensive. We know SpaceX is developing FH using their own money, and we know it’s price since it’s on the website, so it looks much better in comparison. As for MCT, we’re making some assumptions here, that SpaceX would fund it themselves or do it in a public/private partnership with relatively low cost to NASA (I saw a quote of $3 billion somewhere), and it would have a very low operating cost due to full reusability. If these assumptions turn out to be false, I bet you’ll see a lot of criticism against MCT too.

DougSpace - September 23, 2014

There is so little authoritative information about the MCT so one is left to speculate. Perhaps the methane engine SpaceX is working on will have use on a Falcon Heavy upper stage and so could share costs with those launches. Also, one wonders if reusability is scalable. We have strong evidence that the first stage of the F9 can be adequately slowed before reentry and also have enough residual propellant to do a propulsive hover at the surface. It would seem to me that the same might be able to be proportionately done with an MCT first stage but we’re talking about at least an order of magnitude larger in scale.

As with the government HLV, I don’t see a commercial demand for the MCT in terms of communications satellites so the MCT’s business case seems to be largely dependent upon the highly speculative demand for colonists moving to Mars. This highly speculative action appears to show just how committed SpaceX is to its ultimate goal of establishing a large colony on Mars. Without hardly any information on the EDL or initial colony plans, it’s difficult to hazard any guess as to how good or bad their choices and direction are. They may not be risking their whole company on that scenario but at least a large chunk of it.

jimjxr - September 23, 2014

Yes, very little is known about BFR/MCT, only some info exists for Raptor and that is still fluid, I doubt we can have detailed specs until Raptor design is finalized and FH is finished. But I do believe they have plans for commercial use of BFR/MCT besides Mars, it wouldn’t make business sense otherwise, since Mars window only opens every 2 years, it would be very costly to keep BFR/MCT grounded for that long, it would basically face the same problem as SLS.

The key is full and rapid reuse, if they can do this, it would drive BFR/MCT’s launch cost well below the current F9 price. Initially it can take over some FH missions since it would be fully reusable while FH most likely will still need to expend the 2nd stage. After it’s proven, it can open the entire cis-lunar space, for starters for the money you spent on XCOR or VG, you can take a one day trip to LEO instead of a few minutes in suborbital.

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