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Clay Mowry, Tuesday, 6-3-14 June 4, 2014

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Clay Mowry, Tuesday, 6-3-14


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Guest:  Clayton (Clay) Mowry.  Topics:  Arianespace, launch industry, reusability, launch price and satellite capacity.  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 back Clay Mowry to the program to discuss Arianespace and the launcher industry.  During the first segment of our 90 minute discussion, we took on the subject of the upcoming last EASA ATV 5 flight to the ISS.  Mr. Mowry explained why this program to the ISS was ending and that after this last flight, there would be only one vehicle capable of boosting the ISS.  He talked about U.S. priorities in building up cargo capability to the ISS without boost capability over commercial crew.  We also talked about the life expectancy of the ISS amid the current controversies with Russia and the US.  I asked Clay for a brief history of the launcher Ariane 5 and we learned that they now have 59 successful launches for this rocket.  Our guest talked about Ariane 5 performance capabilities plus upgrades that are in progress for an Ariane 5 ME.  We talked about launch price/cost and its relationship to how customers determine what launcher to use.  As he said the last time he was on the show, customers need launcher reliability and the ability to launch on schedule.  Launch costs are an overall factor of the total risk of the launcher, the value of the satellite, opportunity costs, infrastructure costs, and more.  This is a very informative discussion and it continued into the second segment.  Our guest also said that human spaceflight poses different issues than launching telecommunications satellites and is more sensitive to launch costs.  Listeners asked about government subsidies to Arianespace and their not turning a profit despite their commercial success. This opened up a discussion about all forms of government subsidies, including the methods used in the U.S. to subsidize and support our launcher industry.  We talked about the planned new Ariane 6 rocket and its differences with Ariane 5.  We also talked about rocket development time lines.  Rocket reusability came up and this proved to be a great discussion topic that continued into the second segment.  Clay provided us with very important perspectives regarding reusability.  Dr. Jurist called to go deeper into the issue of launch pricing, insurance, and related items. Don’t miss it.  Clay referenced several studies on this subject including the Futron NASA Ascent Study which examined launch costs among other things.  Our guest talked about ways the satellite industry is working to reduce launch costs by making satellites more powerful and lighter.  They are also starting to use ion propulsion which can cut up to 40% of the mass of the satellite which makes launches lower in cost. With more efficient satellites, longer life spans, and other advancements, its possible to see launch cost improvements up to around 20%.

In the second segment, I asked Clay what it would take to human rate the Ariane 5.  After he explained the requirements, he said their company focus was on satellites.  He mentioned Liberty Rocket, then John from Ft. Worth called in to talk about costs, depots, reusability, & just how many flights can a reusable rocket make, plus insurance risk evaluation for reusability.  Clay talked about reusability economics and risks in depth in this segment, explaining the variables and unknowns. This is an important discussion so don’t miss it.  Later by email, Jim asked about increased satellite efficiency & advanced capabilities lowering the launch rate.  Clay did not think so due to content advances and increases that offset the satellite advancements.  Again, another important discussion topic. In fact, we spent most of the balance of the program on this subject.  In concluding, Clay said the business was even more exciting today than when he joined the industry and later Arianespace.  The final listener comment asked about the launchers being the unsung heroes of our modern society.  Clay summarized that reusability had many market, technical, & economic unknowns, that HSF probably was better suited for it than satellites, & that commercial communication satellite customers need reliability & on time launches as part of their business models.

Post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Clay Mowry through me.