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Dr. Jeff Foust, Monday, 12-15-14 December 16, 2014

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Dr. Jeff Foust, Monday, 12-15-14


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Guest:  Dr. Jeff Foust.  Topics:  Space news and events and a look into 2015.  Lots of quality space analysis.  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 Dr. Jeff Foust back to the program.  In the first segment of our 1 hour 53 minute discussion, Jeff covered many space events and projects including Jeff’s “Commercial Spaceflight After the Antares and SpaceShipTwo Failures” talk at the National Air and Space Museum on Dec. 8th.  We also talked about commercial space and here, Jeff gave us a good definition to use in general for commercial space.  He then provided us with economic stats for the entire commercial space industry and its segments including commercial satellites, ground service, NewSpace, and more.  Our guest said that Orion and SLS were at one end of the commercial space spectrum while at the other end one finds XCOR & Virgin Galactic.  Michael Listner called to talk about the Orion EFT 1 flight needing a commercial launch license as well as a return license given that it was a commercial flight contracted for by NASA in contrast to a NASA flight using a commercial company.  The discussion changed to the Virgin Galactic and Orbital Antares accidents and the potential impact of those accidents on both the companies and the commercial space industry in general.  Orbital’s proposed merger with ATK was mentioned as were possible replacement engines for Antares including the use of an ATK SRB.  A listener then brought up the Russian sanctions and the continued seemingly good relationship we have with Russia regarding space.  As the segment was ending, Alan in Tucson asked about reports that the Russians would leave the ISS in 2020.

In the second segment, our first caller was Dwayne who wanted to talk about delays and slipped launch schedules regarding the SpaceX launch manifesto. Jeff and Dwayne had an excellent discussion on this topic so don’t miss it.  Related topics came up in the discussion including reusability, customer needs such as an on time launch versus wanting a lower price and more.  Jerry sent in an email asking about the Raptor tests by SpaceX but Jeff said not much was being made public about them.  The NASA FY 15 budget came up again and Jeff went into some detail as to what part of NASA got what.  Public/private partnerships were mentioned & fully discussed in the segment.  Jeff did point out that the project must entice a private company to participate meaning that it  probably needs to have a strong business case for the project otherwise why would a private commercial company join with NASA.  Jeff indicated these opportunities might be few and far between at this time but when they work, they are a good way to structure the project.  There was a listener inquiry about SLS and cancellation. Jeff had much to say about this too.  Near the end of the segment, we talked more about public/private partnerships, the Delta 2 rocket and Antares, plus rocket certification for a NASA HSF launch, a science mission, and a DOD launch as all three have different certification requirements.  Our final topics included a brief mention of the suborbital industry, Dragon Lab, Skybox, Google Space, and Planet Labs.  Jeff offered us a good set of closing comments so be sure to listen to them.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Dr. Jeff Foust through me or his blogs, etc.


1. The Space Show - December 22, 2014

Guys, this is my last warning about posting negative comments and slamming someone. If anyone does it again, I am going to block you from posting, end of story. This is not the purpose of The Space Show blog. If Jim R. or anyone seeks to hide his/her identity for any reasons, while I do not support that type of behavior and think its inappropriate for serious discussions and being accountable for what one says, that is his business and the blog does not require a person provide their full name or any information about themselves to post. It is up to the person as to the degree of credibility they want and seeking anonymity is in my book discrediting to one’s posts. But again, Jim is entitled to go down that road if he wants and to disagree with me. He is not entitled to call me names, insult me or any of you, nor are any of you entitled to do that with Jim or anyone else. This blog requires tolerance and respect to post on it. Disagreement is welcome and can be accomplished without slamming people so stop it. Also, nobody reading this blog cares about your little petty childish posts so all of you stop it. This blog is for good discussions on the issues raised on Space Show programs. We can do without the digs, the childish need to be the last one to make a comment, all of it. Please, don’t make me block you from posting on the blog. I have only blocked one person in the nearly 14 years of the program and that was for name calling, etc. I don’t want to do it again. No more warnings. Next time, action. You guys are really pissing me off so stop it.

Dr. Space

2. The Space Show - December 20, 2014

Guys, please stop insulting one another, calling people names, all but calling the other a liar, and in the end, acting like a spoiled brat know it all. It is one thing to be critical of ideas, information, theories, data, etc. Its quite another to insult someone and in all honesty, act like a jerk and that is what is happening with some of the blog discussions. The rules for The Space Show on air and on the blog are civility and respect. That does not mean throwing childish insults back and forth. Ideas, theories, conclusions, analysis, it all needs to stand up to the light being shone on it or it falls into the darkness where it belongs. This can be done professionally and without the jerk and insulting behavior.

Please abide by Space Show civility and respect rules. While I am not interested in naming names, those of you who do this know who you are so come on, cut it out and be professional and respectful. People have different ideas and evaluate facts, etc. and come up with different conclusions. Even scientist disagree on theories and such and allows for competing theories and testing. To think differently about a project or information does not make the other person wrong or a liar or someone who misleads. Your way may not be the only way or the best way so let’s have respect, civility and tolerance in our blog posts.

Thanks. Also, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year to all of you. Let’s hope 2015 is a good year for space!


3. Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

The launch scheduled for Friday, December 18th has been postponed until January 6, 2015 giving Space X 6 launches this year, which gives them half of what they planned for 2014, but twice as many launches as 2013. One wonders whether Space X is spinning too many plates and would be better served focusing their resources on getting their launch rate up and cutting the number of delays. They are supposed to receive certification for national security payloads by the end of the year, but if they can’t get their launch rate up they many very well lose launches for that very reason.

jimjxr - December 18, 2014

I find it puzzling that you feel the need to repost your comment from parabolicarc here…

Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

Nothing puzzling about it. My comment, which I made here first, is equally applicable to the conversation going over in Parabolic.

jimjxr - December 19, 2014

It’s also interesting that you’re using my link below in parabolicarc comment section, yet misrepresent them in a serious attempt to do misinformation, before I just thought you’re just being a pessimist, now I’m not so sure that is the reason for your comments.

You posted the following in parabolicarc:
“Whether or not FH flies in 2015 is relevant to the discussion because payloads have already been manifested, some of which were supposed to fly this year. ”


“Here is an archived launch manifest.


I read at least two missions that were scheduled for 2014 on FH. Obviously, this manifest is no longer valid, but it is illustrative.”

Yet I clearly stated below the manifest was entered by mistake, the two Falcon Heavy contracts were never intended for 2014.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

Get a life.

4. DDAY - December 17, 2014

You say they plan 18 for 2015. Let’s come back in December 2015 and see how many launches they’ve achieved.

jimjxr - December 18, 2014

Well one thing is for sure, they won’t satisfy the doubters no matter what they do.

Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

The “doubters” as you call them are merely stating the obvious.

jimjxr - December 19, 2014

Looks to me at least in your case, the “doubter” is spreading misinformation to undermine SpaceX’s credibility.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

See my comment above.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

Hold on! You’re JimR who has been accusing me of spreading FUD and misleading information over at Parabolic. That explains everything!

jimjxr - December 20, 2014

That’s exactly what you’re doing, and I have proof above.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

ROFLMAO. Seriously, I’m sitting here shaking my head that 1) I’m even having this “conversation” and 2) I’m letting myself get sucked in to deeper. Apologies to the moderator for my lack of restraint this morning. I need more coffee.

DDAY - December 18, 2014

I don’t doubt. I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I am an analyst. I don’t see a glass that is half full nor half empty. I see a 16 ounce glass with 8 ounces of liquid in it.

Oh, and it looks like they’ll have to pull off 19 launches in 2015 now. We’ll come back in December 2015 and count them.

jimjxr - December 19, 2014

You always throw out the analyst line, but I think anyone who get an ear would know you’re not unbiased when come to SpaceX. One example is you stated on NSF that SpaceX is not much cheaper than ULA for NASA launch, yet we just learned it’s nearly 50% cheaper.

And I wouldn’t trust an analyst who couldn’t get the correct information that an amateur can get in 15 minutes of web search.

DDAY - December 21, 2014

Jimjxr, can you please tell me your real name? I’d like to know who I’m dealing with.

jimjxr - December 21, 2014

I’m confused, why do you need my real name? Rest assured you don’t know me, and I don’t know you (in real life that is), and I have no association whatsoever with the aerospace industry.

DDAY - December 22, 2014

You decided to personalize this by engaging in ad hominem. So don’t you think that you should at least extend the courtesy of revealing your actual name? It’s only polite.

jimjxr - December 22, 2014

This has got to be the weirdest conversation I’ve had for some time, but just to make it clear:
1. I have no intention of disclosing my personal information on the internet.
2. It’s very impolite to ask for personal information on the internet, checkout RFC 1855 for basic netiquettes.
3. If you believe my posts are personal attacks, the correct action is to report to moderator.

Michael J. Listner - December 22, 2014

He’s also active over at Parabolic under the pseudonym JimR spreading his dis-logic and basically attacking anyone who questions Space X or Elon Musk.

Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

According to Jeff’s article in Space News, Space X has not announced a launch schedule for 2015, although they have 2 planned for January plus the carry-over resupply mission from 2014.


jimjxr - December 19, 2014

No, you’re not reading it correctly, Dr. Foust said “SpaceX has not announced a launch schedule for 2015, but now has two launches planned for January: in addition to the rescheduled CRS mission, a Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Jan. 23 from Cape Canaveral”, so two missions for January including CRS-5.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

See my comment above.

jimjxr - December 20, 2014

I assume you meant the “Get a life.” comment above, it would be nice if you make it clear, it’s not that hard to type “Get a life.” a dozen times.

Michael J. Listner - December 22, 2014

My prior post:

“According to Jeff’s article in Space News, Space X has not announced a launch schedule for 2015, although they have 2 planned for January plus the carry-over resupply mission from 2014.”

That is what the article says in a precis instead of cut and paste.

5. DDAY - December 17, 2014

Even if that is the case, my fundamental point was this: if they keep slipping a significant number of customers from one year to the next, then they are stuck in a hole that they cannot dig themselves out of unless something changes.

So, for example, assume that they pull off 7 launches this year. And assume that they improve their performance by 50% in 2015 and launch 11 times in 2015. By your count, they have 18 planned launches for 2015 and that means that 7 will slip into 2016 (to be added to whatever ones are already scheduled for 2016). Even if they increase their launch rate by 100% and launch 14 times in 2015, that still slips 4 into the following year.

So the solutions to this are:

1-They dramatically increase their launch rate by about 150% to catch up.
2-They slip some customers and then give them discounts for being late.
3-Some of their customers cancel orders and go elsewhere.

I think that #1 is unlikely (it is certainly unlikely until the new launch pads become available), and so we are likely to see some combination of #2 and #3. And they really only solve the problem with increases in launch rate _and_ some other change, like losing some customers or delaying new orders until they can clear their backlog.

Airline manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have big order books, but generally their customers know that if they sign up late, they will have to wait more years for their airplanes. And sometimes manufacturers have to provide discounts for late deliveries. Plus, there’s usually more slack in the market because of things like aircraft leasing companies (so if you really need to add capacity, you rent a plane instead of buying it). Space launch is a more rigid market.

jimjxr - December 17, 2014

“they are stuck in a hole that they cannot dig themselves out of unless something changes.”: Something will change, they’ll have more launch pads (and I assume the corresponding launch teams for them) so that launches can go in parallel. Also with more experience with Falcon 9 v1.1 and less frequent upgrades they’ll be able to avoid issues that causing delays.

“And they really only solve the problem with increases in launch rate _and_ some other change”: I don’t know why increases in launch rate is not enough, it should be sufficient. And I agree #1 is highly unlikely, they’ll certainly slip some customers to 2016, whether customer will quit is up to the customers, but delays are not unusual in this business, Proton and Ariane has delays too.

6. jimjxr - December 17, 2014

On the SpaceX website manifest: don’t trust it, it’s not updated regularly and when they do update it there were mistakes (they probably have an intern do it). What Dwayne saw was the last dates of their original format, it was updated with new contracts signed this year but had the launch year wrong. A version of this manifest can be seen here: http://web.archive.org/web/20141120220200/http://www.spacex.com/missions, notice:

1. KOREASAT: This refers to the Koreasat-5a contract, the satellite itself is not even built yet, the build contract is signed in May 2014: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/worldwide/space/press-release/thales-alenia-space-build-koreasat-7-and-koreasat-5a-satellites, so no way this launches in 2014 or 2015.

2. THAICOM: This is the Thaicom 8, again satellite build contact was signed early this year, the launch is in 2016: http://www.spacenews.com/article/satellite-telecom/40420orbital-to-build-spacex-to-launch-thaicom-8

3. AIRBUS: No idea what this is, could be the EDRS-C deal which ESA has forced Airbus to change to Ariane: http://spacenews.com/airbus-upbraided-at-home-for-shopping-spacex/

4. OHB SYSTEM AG: This is probably the SARah (German military satellites) which plan to be launched in 2019: http://spacenews.com/37285ohb-taps-astrium-to-build-a-german-radar-satellite-and-launch-it-on-a/

5. VIASAT: This is the Viasat-2 Falcon Heavy launch in 2016: http://spacenews.com/42557viasat-2-launch-contract-goes-to-spacex-as-arianespace-sits-out/

6. INMARSAT: Inmarsat booked one firm launch and two options in 2016: http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/41121inmarsat-books-falcon-heavy-for-up-to-three-launches

7. BULGARIA SAT: Another 2014 deal, will launch in 2016: http://spacenews.com/41804ssl-to-build-telecom-satellite-for-bulgaria/

8. CONAE: This is involved in a lawsuit, no idea when it will launch: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/155391/argentina-faces-lawsuit-over-us-satellite-contract

There’re some other bogus entries like the Bigelow one, so long story short if you really want to know SpaceX’s manifest situation, you need to track it yourself, and Dr. Foust’s spacenews.com is a good source. On my count they got 18 launches booked in 2015, certainly a lot, but no where near the 30 launches as claimed by Dwayne.

Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

Yeah, it’s always the intern’s fault.

Michael J. Listner - December 20, 2014

My question is why do post this manifest if you know it’s incorrect, but vilify someone as being misleading and attacking Space X’s credibility when they use it as an illustrative example? Can you say double-standard?

jimjxr - December 20, 2014

I posted it since this is most likely the one Dwayne saw, and talked about on the show. I made it very clear that this manifest is wrong, and I illustrated why it is wrong with examples, so I don’t know what double-standard you’re talking about here.

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