jump to navigation

Open Lines, Sunday, 11-2-14 November 3, 2014

Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Open Lines, Sunday, 11-2-14


Your Amazon Purchases Helps Support TSS/OGLF (see www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm)

If you rate shows on live365.com, email me your rating reasons to help improve the show

Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  SpaceShip2 accident, Antares accident, NewSpace, Legacy Space, ULA, Air Force, SpaceX & 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 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.

Welcome to our Open Lines show.  During our first segment of this 2 hour 20 minute program, we mostly talked about both the recent Antares rocket explosion a few seconds after launch and the Virgin Galactic SS2 accident resulting in the loss of one crew member.  After my opening statement about not engaging in accident speculation and my reading an op-ed by Dennis Wing on the accident titled “Thoughts on the SS2 Crash” (http://denniswingo.wordpress.com), we opened the lines for callers. Dr. Jurist called first to strongly urge against speculation.  Michael Listner called & updated us regarding the Air Force-SpaceX litigation, then Michael talked about the SS2 accident & to guard against speculation.  He did give us the relevant parts of the commercial space law pertaining to the Dept. of Transportation and FAA having regulatory oversight of the suborbital industry.  He cited 51 U.S.C. § 50903(c) & pointed out this paragraph:  “(c) SAFETY.-In carrying out the responsibilities under subsection (b), the Secretary shall encourage, facilitate, and promote the continuous improvement of the safety of launch vehicles designed to carry humans, and the Secretary may, consistent with this chapter, promulgate regulations to carry out this subsection.”  Dr. Rowe called and talked about cardiovascular risks for longer spaceflights as well as the problems associated with using pharmaceuticals in space.  Bill also addressed some space tourism issues.  During this segment, I read an anti-space tourism article from Wired.com which you will see on the Dennis Wingo Blog as Dennis commented on the Wired article.

In the second segment, Kirk called from Trinidad.  He mentioned the SR71 flight breakup with Bill Weaver and the loss of the other pilot, plus I asked questions about the interest in space in Trinidad.  Dr. Dwayne Day called next to resist speculation on the SS2 accident, plus he shared some of his experiences in accident investigation and how things progress as he was part of the Columbia investigation team.  We then talked about really bad network and cable news reporting on both the Antares rocket failure and the SS2 coverage.   Dwayne recently did a tour of SpaceX and ULA so he told us about each one and highlighted some of the differences that he saw regarding each company.  I think you will find this discussion very interesting.  Dwayne mentioned early commercial spaceflight history, problems, and setbacks as points of reference for us.  Tim called from Huntsville about the SS2 crash and the Russian engine used by Antares.  He wondered if the British Skylon space tourism vehicle would be an alternative.  SLS John was our final caller who again urged against speculation on the cause of the accident.  He mentioned risks to the space tourism industry and concluded saying what others have said and that is that rockets are a risky business no matter what.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach any of the callers or people mentioned on the show through me.


1. DDAY - November 5, 2014

As for developing a liquid rocket engine for any replacement vehicle, that will cost money. They are going to have to work out their finances after the accident. Will they have enough money to build a new vehicle? Will they have enough money to buy or develop a liquid rocket engine? And incorporating a liquid into the existing SS2 design would require many changes to the vehicle (for instance, all new tanking, new center of gravity, etc.).

The replacement cost has long been one of the challenges for reusable vehicles–if you lose the vehicle, you have to replace it. That’s even more difficult if you have shut down the production line. With expendable vehicles, you are building new ones all the time, so your economic model takes that into account.

2. DDAY - November 5, 2014

There have been reports that the second SS2 vehicle is 60% complete. There is no point to continuing construction on it until they understand the causes of the accident. It would be a bad move to finish it and then have to modify it. Easier to modify it while under construction, assuming that is possible.

Andy Hill - November 6, 2014

Virgin has released this regarding the second SS2 they are building.


the above article was posted by Bob Zimmerman on his behindtheblack web site.

Also I think they were already considering moving to a liquid fuel engine so perhaps they have already allowed for that in this second craft.

3. Kirk - November 5, 2014

Here is a link to a copy of the Aviation Week article in which Bill Weaver describes the 1966 incident in which his SR-71 Blackbird broke up going Mach 3.2 at 78,000 ft, ripping him out of his ejection seat and throwing him from the plane.


4. Andy Hill - November 5, 2014

It was a bit depressing to realise that VG would be unlikely to start construction of a replacement craft before the FAA finishes its investigation and makes its findings public which could be a year.

What does the Spacecraft company do in the meantime? I thought they would probably have a lot of the sections for a new SS2 already made or at least could fabricate them relatively quickly. Will they be able to construct parts as they are excluded from the investigation like for instance the landing gear or will all work just stop?

Perhaps this may be an opportunity to press ahead with a replacement liquid fuel rocket motor which has be one of the things that has been discussed by various people as this would not be covered in any investigation. If they are thinking of changing the engine, for performance reasons (nothing to do with its safety), then now would be a logical time to do so when they can incorporate any necessay design changes more easily.

I do wonder what the regulatory world will look like for commercial space when all the dust settles. Things will almost certainly get harder and more complicated.

5. Matt - November 4, 2014


some comments to this open line show from 02.Nov.:

I think Dr. Livingston was right to set rigid rules for discussion in the show to prevent wild speculation about SS2 accident’s cause, but I felt that might be a bit contradictory to the objectives of such a show, because most interesting stuff were reduced significant from the talk. The results was that the show was a bit more borrowing as we usually know it .

However, there was important point in the show, which did even produced some laughers, a point which is only indirectly connected the present SS2 drama. That is the general topic of safety measures and rules for space tourism. I felt that much more could said about it. I remember to the discussion (I think it was talk between David and STS John) about potential required ejection seats and the related strange imagination that only pilots can use it, but passenger not. That was the issue that made us laughing.

However, this “joke” opens the view of the difficult situation, in which the private space industry is confined in respect to safety requirements. VG cannot built in six additional ejection seats or even a complete passenger cabin, which can be separated from the craft and parachuted to ground. Dr. Livingston made some also good points in respect to comparison of suborbital crafts to civil aircrafts. Last ones exhibit thousands of test and verification flights before such an aircraft can be used for passenger transport . I see here a very difficult task to achieve a comparable safety in suborbital tourism, it is maybe a not solvable problem and we have to live with significant lower safety level in the space tourism industry compared to normal air transportation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: