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Jim Muncy, Monday, 11-17-14 November 18, 2014

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Jim Muncy, Monday, 11-17-14

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2358-BWB-2014-11-17.mp3

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Guest:  Jim Muncy.  Topics:  Virgin Galactic, Antares, space policy, lunar programs, midterm elections & much 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.

We welcomed Jim Muncy back to the show to discuss the recent Virgin Galactic accident, Antares, commercial space, regulations & more.  During the first segment of our 100 minute program, Jim started off by discussing the Virgin Galactic accident and possible new regulations for the industry or vehicle specific to Virgin.  Jim explained the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 in terms of the regulatory regime which already exists and what might come about once the NTSB issues its final accident report.  This is an excellent discussion as well as clarification of the existing and potential regulatory environment so don’t miss it.  Space attorney Michael Listner emailed & called in to support what Jim was talking about regarding regulatory regime for commercial space with the AST.  Doug Messier sent in an email addressing the issue of there being a difference between having an incentive to fly safely and being able to operate safely with regards to Virgin as our conversation had turned to flight safety for the new spaceplanes.  Regarding flight safety, Jim made the point that safety was ongoing and a continued learning lesson, even after the vehicle was in commercial service. I agreed & pointed to commercial aviation accidents that have happened after thousands of flight hours as some defect shows up that late into commercial operations.  Jim seized the opportunity to talk about the choice of wording regarding space tourism and said it was not a good choice of words.  Listen to what he had to say about this.  We talked about negative press after the accident and here Jim stressed that the spaceflight in question was not taxpayer supported and was between private individuals and companies.  It was not the business of journalists or others.  Cost plus contracting came up with a listener question as did several established Republican senators and the role they might play regarding commercial space in the new congress.  Jim had made several earlier comments about the British press negative articles on Virgin and the industry.  I asked him why that was so and said it was largely Richard Branson driven given he is and has been such a controversial person in the UK.

In the second segment, we talked about some emerging commercial lunar opportunities that Jim has worked on for awhile.  He provided the background to the current situation including fights over SLS, Orion, & other big ticket NASA programs.  This is a very interesting discussion because it shows how one can find areas to agree on and work together and even get funded if the amounts are not too large.  I urge you to pay close attention to this part of our discussion.  As you will hear, the end result is the development of commercial lunar programs such as the NASA Lunar CATALYST Program.  Dr. Doug called from S. California to ask questions about CATALYST, public/private partnerships, & the ULA-Masten lunar lander work.  Listeners also wanted to know if  a ULA second stage would ever fly on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy such as the ULA concept ACES (Advanced Common Evolved Stage).  We talked about the Orbital Sciences plan to fly their cargo on another rocket while they sort their engine problems out and a listener asked Jim if he thought the Falcon Heavy would have a significant and positive impact on the dialog supporting the American space industry.  Near the end of the program, Christine in Chicago asked Jim if he was as excited today about commercial space as he was when he started out 35 years ago.  Do not miss Jim’s most reflective and thoughtful response to this question.  Jerry from Florida got in one more question by asking about Space Florida and a spaceport that could operate outside the realm of the Air Force range rules.  Jim had much to say on this as well as there is a definite need for modern range rules for commercial spaceflight.  As the program drew to a close, Benny in Dallas asked about the space interest of Senator Cruz and Becky asked what was going on with California aerospace and politics.  In his concluding comments, Jim hoped the commercial industry would soon be back on track, that 2015 would be a good and safe year for space.  We look forward to talking to him again on TSS.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach Jim Muncy through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

Comments»

1. Michael J. Listner - November 25, 2014

The issue of regulation goes beyond the experience and the safety of the industry within the borders of the the United States. The United States has international legal obligations particularly with Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty to oversee private spaceflight, including the sub-orbitals. I understand Jim’s concern that the industry needs to gain experience before regulation should settle on the industry, but it goes beyond domestic concerns to international political pressure. I think this realization is reflected in the FAA’s request to Congress for on-orbit authority for activities between launch and reentry.

As the industry pushes the envelope there will pressure for the United States for further oversight and from this will come regulation regardless of whether the industry has experience. Therefore, the wish that the current moratorium be extended into perpetuity is just that: it’s a wish. International legal obligations through treaties, which have the power of federal statute, will require eventual further oversight of the industry, which I believe will come sooner than later. The industry would be wise to accept this fact and adapt to and work with the FAA rather than pull against it.


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