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Brian Weeden, Wednesday, 10-23-13 October 23, 2013

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Brian Weeden, Wednesday, 10-23-13


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Guest:  Brian Weeden.  USAF Space Fence for national security.  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.

We welcomed Brian Weeden back to the program to discuss the issue of the shutting down of the USAF Space Fence.  Our discussion was based on Brian’s August 26, 2013 Space Review article, “Gambling with a Space Fence: An analysis of the decision to shut down the Air Force Space Surveillance Fence” at www.thespacereview.com/article/2357/1.  During the first segment of our 1 hour 29 minute discussion, Brian provided us with a brief history of the Space Fence, what it has been used for, its technical characteristics, and it recent cancellation partially due to sequestration regarding its approximate $15 million annual budget expense.  Brian also explained its capabilities in detecting spy satellites, space debris and other objects and the size of objects which it can detect.  He discussed both continuous wave radar and pulsed radar, pointing out that the fence which dated from the late 1950’s, was uncued.  Richard Easton called in as his father Roger was one of the developers for the space fence in January 1958.  Richard contributed greatly to our discussion.  Brian then talked about the probable replacement for the fence, an S Band fence which would result in higher frequencies enabling the detection of smaller objects, probably with a very high rate pulsed radar. Right now the S Band fence is estimated to cost about $1.8 billion but as you will hear, it may never be built.  As to how our national security has been impacted without the fence operating, Brian said it was difficult to assess so listen carefully to his analysis.  Brian also talked about challenging DOD budget issues, the difference in budget years with DOD as compared to the government as a whole, and again, sequestration.

In our second segment, Brian addressed several of the political issues surrounding the space fence issue.  When asked how long it would take for the S Band system to become operational were it funded, he said around 2018.  Two companies are competing to do it if and when the project is authorized and funded.  We also talked about the U.S. sharing satellite tracking information with all satellite operators including private companies, thus using an international partnership to finance the space fence since it benefits everyone. As you will hear, there appears to be control and sensitivity issues which prevent the air force from going that route. Later I asked Brian about stealth satellites and then he took a listener question about the way space debris was portrayed in the movie Gravity.  We spent some time discussing the impact of a movie like Gravity on the public regarding the space debris issue. As the program was ending, Brian said he was not that optimistic about a replacement fence and brought to our attention the need to upgrade computer systems that process the data.  As you will hear, this is a substantial problem that is not being addressed.

Please post comments/questions on The Space Show blog.  You can reach Brian through me or SWF.

Space Show-SWF Webinar, On-Orbit Satellite Servicing, Sunday, 8-19-12 August 20, 2012

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Space Show-SWF Webinar, On-Orbit Satellite Servicing, Sunday, 8-19-12


https://vimeo.com/channels/thespaceshow  – Webinar Video

Guests:  Brian Weeden, Richard DalBello, Major General, USAF (Retired) James B. Armor, Jr..  This is a SWF sponsored webinar addressing issues related to the on-orbit servicing of satellites.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, & discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, & any discussion must be relevant & applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A TWO HOUR WEBINAR PRODUCTION SPONSORED BY THE SECURE WORLD FOUNDATION (SWF).  YOU CAN VIEW THIS WEBINAR AT https://vimeo.com/channels/thespaceshow.  We welcomed Brian Weeden, Richard DalBello, & Major General, USAF (Retired) James B. Armor, Jr. to the program for an in-depth discussion of on-orbit satellite servicing. This is a new business/industry that is emerging with great interest from governments, the satellite industry, & many other interested parties.  During our first webinar hour, our guests explained satellite on-orbit servicing, why the interest in it, the values on the table, & the economics behind this developing industry.  We heard from the perspective of the satellite operator with Mr. DalBello, from General Armor with the perspective of a company wanting to provide these services plus what they are commercially doing now in this emerging industry.  Gen. Armor talked about the new ATK venture for satellite repair, Vivisat (www.vivisat.com).  He was followed by Mr. Weeden who connected the dots with us regarding the big picture implications for security, stability, & policy.  We talked about liability issues, insurance, & LEO & GEO satellites in terms of their respective economic value & lifespan.  A listener asked about GPS satellites, launch costs, & competition here & abroad.  In fact, Brian mentioned several projects outside the US with the Canadians, Germans, & JAXA.  Toward the end of the first hour, caller Jack asked about testing & reliability, wondering if repairing satellites would reduce reliability engineering & testing on the ground, thus lowering the satellite’s cost given the possibility of on-orbit repair.  Ben followed asking if satellites having a longer life would be sold, comparing this potential to selling real estate once a property has been fully depreciated.

In our webinar second hour, Brian described the DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service project, http://www.darpa.mil/our_work/tto/programs/phoenix.aspx.  The issue of satellite abandonment came up & as you will hear, there is no way to abandon any object in space.  Another issue in this segment was space situational awareness (SSA).  We talked about SSA in LEO, with the new entrepreneurial small satellite companies doing LEO ventures, & the implication of this new industry for launching to & operating in GEO.  Later in this segment, we learned that there was no commercial incentive to address the space debris issue. Don’t miss the analysis behind this statement as its important in understanding the space debris issue.  A listener asked Richard about launch vehicle insurance & premiums, specifically for the Falcon 9.  Also in this segment we talked about the NASA satellite servicing mission, the Restore Mission (http://ssco.gsfc.nasa.gov/robotic_servicing_mission.html).  As our webinar drew to a close, we addressed the importance of a STEM education for our young students & the exciting space projects that today’s students will get to do in their careers. Everyone’s closing comments reflected the future orientation & focus for this evolving industry.

Please post your comments/questions on the blog.  If you want to email our guests, send your note to me & I will forward it for you.


Brian Weeden, Friday, 8-10-12 August 10, 2012

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Brian Weeden, Friday, 8-10-12


Guest:  Brian Weeden.  Topics:  Economics for LEO, GEO, space debris mitigation, & space sustainability.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Brian Weeden back to the program to discuss space economics per his June 4, 2012 Space Review article, “The economics of space sustainability.”  You can read this article by visiting www.thespacereview.com/article/2093/1. I strongly recommend you read the article prior to listening to our discussion.  In our first segment, Brian spent time with us defining important terms including space as a global commons, space as a common-pool resource, GEO and LEO satellite usage, space debris regions, the Kessler Syndrome, good rivalrous, economic exclusion, economic non-exclusion, private goods, public goods and more.  Brian makes the valid point that in understanding how both GEO and LEO have been viewed and treated, we have a partial explanation of why it has been and still is so challenging to do something about the growing debris problem.  In Brian’s Space Review paper and in our discussion, he takes us to a point where we can view LEO and Geo differently than the more normal way of looking at space, economics, and debris issues. We came to view space not as a global commons but more as a common-pool resource.  From this vantage point, we can look at policy and programs that influence behavior toward a desired objective. He cited as an example the Chinese anti-satellite test that caused so much debris several years ago but told us that the test was repeated in 2010 without causing debris.  Listen to his explanation of this in the second part of our discussion.
     In the second segment, we talked about the value of both LEO and GEO.  All space is valued at $290 billion.  $110 billion is assigned to space services and related things.  The total insured value of GEO is around $20 billion but the insured value of LEO is only $1.4 billion.  He explained why this is so and the impact it has have on understanding the economics of space development and debris mitigation.  At one point in the discussion in response to a question, he talked about the pain threshold of the company or country.  Don’t miss this discussion.  Later in the segment, Brian introduced us to game theory and information economics as we continued to explore space economics.  Near the end of our program, we talked about the European Code of Conduct for Outer Space, how it might or might not become law in the U.S., and the realization that there must be more benefits flowing to the space companies and nations for dealing with debris than the costs, liabilities, and challenges.
     Please post your comments on the blog. If you want to email Brian Weeden, you can find his address on the SWF website or you can send it to me and I will forward it.