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Auditions and Co-host Program, Tuesday, 2-10-15 February 11, 2015

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Auditions and Co-host Program, Tuesday, 2-10-15


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Guests:  Space Show Host Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  How to be a guest & co-host on the program plus other topics.  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.  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 Audition and Co-host program.  During the first segment of our nearly 2 hour program, we did not get any audition calls from people contacting me to put themselves on The Space Show as a guest.  Toward the end of the program I took a call from Andrew regarding his being a co-host and one from Tim with an excellent suggestion for how to be on the program.  More about those calls when we get to the second segment.  For the first segment, Marshall called and talked about three sci-fi books he is writing plus I asked about his daughter who won a Space Show contest years ago and she got a tour of Loral and their satellite mfg. business.  Pooley called and talked about SpaceX, then he talked about the next several books being planned in the Microlaunchers series.


In the second segment, John in Ft. Worth called to talk about seeing the video on rocket reusability with Tori Bruno at Stanford. Mr. Bruno is the ULA CEO.  The better link to use when seeing this hour long video is http://youtu.be/iVFz67WCPIw.  John and I strongly recommend it.  Doug began emailing questions to John about depots and his previous calculations regarding the Falcon Heavy.  John admitted to an error in his previous analysis which he discussed that with Doug who was communicating via email.  Our next caller was Tim in Huntsville who suggested blogtalker.com for people who contact me wanting to be on the show.  Clearly such people do not follow my suggestion which is to call an Open Lines show or call when I do the auditions show but with blogtalker.com, they can actually make a short demo talk on their subject or topic for TSS and send me the URL.  Based on how well they do, the interest in the topic plus other factors, that would help me decide if a self-invited guest should be on the show.  Andrew was our last caller and he talked about himself being a co-host for topics dealing with astronomy, telescopes, engineering, machine tools, and more.  Doug communicated with Andrew by email to discuss the role of machining in the setting of an initial base (Moon or Mars) when in situ metals are accessed.  What all could be made?  I am working on this show with Andrew.


Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach any of the callers through or those sending emails through me.


1. jimjxr - February 13, 2015

And on a unrelated news, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s president just got fired: http://spacenews.com/gencorp-ceo-replaces-boley-as-aerojet-rocketdyne-president-2/

I remember someone here said Aerojet is in trouble months ago, just goes to show those of us in the peanut gallery are not totally clueless.

2. jimjxr - February 12, 2015

Regarding Falcon Heavy performance calculation, a few notes:
1. The 53 tons to LEO is with cross feeding, their website indicates cross feeding would only be used for payload over 45 tons, so presumably without cross feeding the LEO performance of Falcon Heavy is 45 tons.
2. The side boosters of Falcon Heavy are longer than Falcon 9’s first stage, this can be seen from the diagram on their website, the booster is roughly the same height of first stage plus inter-stage.
3. The performance number of Falcon 9 on their website is sandbagged, per http://spacenews.com/39558updated-ses-books-falcon-9-for-2016-launch, Falcon 9 can send 5.3 tons to GTO. There’s also the news that Merlin 1D will get a performance upgrade later this year: http://spacenews.com/ses-rethinking-being-first-to-fly-on-a-full-throttle-falcon-9. This may explain the extra performance of Falcon 9.

Regarding the launch market, I think Elon Musk is already seeing this, this is why he’s starting the development of a super big internet constellation. With 1400 satellites, 5 years replacement cycle, you need to launch 280 satellites per year.

3. DougSpace - February 11, 2015

There was a very good discussion between David and John about midway through the show. I wanted to throw my two cents into the discussion.

I would like to point out a couple of possibilities when it comes to Falcon Heavy. With crossfeed, the lateral boosters will drop off earlier and so may more easily accomplish boost-back. Depending upon how much payload there is, the central stage might conceivably cut off at just below orbital speed in there for make it one orbit around the Earth and so also land back at the launch site. Granted, it would need to burn more propellants them the lateral stage because it is needing to reenter at higher velocity is. Alternately, the lateral boosters could return to launch site but the central booster could land on a barge further down range.

John’s idea of comparing the ratio of Delta forward to Delta IV Heavy and then applying that to Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy wouldn’t work because Delta IV Heavy doesn’t use crossfeed.

I appreciate John trying to personally confirm SpaceX’s numbers on the Falcon Heavy. It is true that SpaceX might have some understanding that is not common or perhaps even some tricks up his sleeve. One needs to bear in mind factors such as crossfeed also the point that the lateral stages don’t have their own upper stage and I’m not sure if those lateral stages are stretched an extra long length or not. Also conceivably SpaceX might tweak the relative size of the upper stage compared with the central core stage in order to optimize performance. I presume that John is using the performance of the enhanced Merlin 1D engine as opposed to the calculations based upon the initial performance of the Merlin engine. So it may be difficult to reproduce SpaceX’s numbers. I would also like to point out that SpaceX has already sold Falcon Heavy launches in the future and so we would have to presume that they believe that they will be able to deliver the capability which their customers have purchased. I don’t know if future customers have purchased the full 53 metric tonnes or not.

Also, I might just throw on the question of why couldn’t SpaceX add more lateral Cors to make what to be called a Falcon Heavy 7. Angara does this so I don’t know why the same thing couldn’t be done with the Falcon family.

Again, anything that increases the capability of a high end reusable rocket decreases the logic for when propellant depots will be needed. I think we need to take a real hard look at the financial utility of propellant depots in only a single LEO inclination, dealing with boil off issues in orbit, requiring numerous launches of low capability rockets compared to high capability also reusable rockets which require no or just one or just two dockings for very large missions. Within a family, rockets tend to get cheaper on a per kilogram to LEO basis the bigger they are. It may be that LEO depots are only useful for missions that are extremely high mass. And that might also have to take an account high mass missions that could otherwise use ion propulsion. So what, will propellant depots only makes sense for those missions that have to send hundreds of people through the Van Allen radiation belts? That sounds like it may be well down the line and even then, for relatively few missions per year.

Regarding the use of somewhat less reliable launchers, by way of analogy, what would be less expensive?
1) 100 cheap, expendable Yugos – 30 of which failed to deliver their cargo and 70 which did or
2) One large reusable Ford F150 which was able to make 20 trips delivering the equivalent amount of cargo.

Cis-lunar water not only makes depots potentially unnecessary, it may make multiple depots in multiple locations unnecessary because the propulsion service from the Moon could pass through EML 2 and so supposedly proceed to any LEO inclination with relatively little delta-v penalty for plane change.

Re: a joint project between SpaceX’s launcher and ULA’s upper stage, I agree with David that this seems unlikely. However, if the government were to purchase SpaceX launches and purchase ULA upper stages within its payload fairing then would SpaceX really care where the government got its payload? Would ULA not sell its Centaurs to the government because they were going to use a competitor’s launcher?

Re: the elasticity of the launch market. The satellite market seems pretty inflexible. SpaceX being able to offer a lower price for its launches may do almost nothing to increase the number of launches that the world demands each year. But for SpaceX, this may not matter so much. Its manifest and market share may grow so at the expense of others and SpaceX has enough of a head start compared to its competitors that their competitors may have a hard time catching up and regaining their market share because SpaceX will have more experienced reusables and they can keep innovating.

Growing the launch market may not come from lowering the cost for satellite. Indeed, doing so may simply shrink the overall market as customers simply pocket the savings and don’t increase their orders. But, at some point, there us a tipping point for space tourism. There may never be a demand for more than say 500 satellite launches per year. But more than 500 people would like to go to space…if the price were right. Of course, no one knows for sure what that price point is. But, like the cruise industry, there could well be a tipping point at which the experience becomes so affordable that customers put down more money than what is lost by selling those tickets at a slightly lower price. After that point, it only becomes a question if how many people could afford the experience at the lowest possible price that can be technically and safely achieved.

But I would like to point out that the slope towards that tipping point might be virtuous. We know that there is a small market for tourists to pay tens of millions of dollars per seat. Perhaps, a partially reusable Falcon 9 with Dragons will get the price down just far enough so that tourists willing to spend single-digit millions and especially governments willing to spend single digit millions will purchase enough seats to allow SpaceX and Bigelow the money to innovate and reduce the price yet a bit further. So the tipping point could all ready be met at that point because it is initiating a virtuous cycle which lowers the cost further thereby making the market expansion irreversible.

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