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Dr. George Sowers, Monday, 11-12-12 November 13, 2012

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Dr. George Sowers, Monday, 11-12-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1892-BWB-2012-11-12.mp3

Guest:  Dr. George Sowers.  Topics:  United Launch Alliance, Atlas 5, Delta IV, human rating Atlas and Delta.  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. We welcomed Dr. George Sowers, VP of Human Launch Services at ULA back to the show for a special one hour report on Atlas, Delta, human rating rockets, and much more.  Dr. Sowers started off by letting us know that ULA recently created the Human Launch Services Division with Dr. Sowers as the Vice-President.  Dr. Sowers then updated us on some of their more visible ULA activities since his last visit to The Space Show in January 2011, including probable SLS and Dream Chaser time lines, commercial crew participation and Orion tests in 2014.  We talked about the ULA role in commercial crew and what was needed to human rate the Atlas as well as the Delta IV.  I also asked about needed pad modifications for HSF with an Atlas and Dr. Sowers told us about modifications to Launch Complex 41 at the Cape for the upcoming crewed flights.  Listeners asked our guest lots of questions about safety, pad modifications, range safety issues, and the difference in human rating the Atlas as compared to a Delta.  Another question asked of our guest was to understand the contributing factors to the impressive launch success and safety rate for the Atlas rocket.  Dr. Sowers answered this in some detail with attention being paid to what is known at the 3 P’s.  Charles wanted to know about the Russian RD-180 engines & another listener wanted to know if ULA was feeling competitive “heat” from SpaceX. Yves in Montreal asked about the dual centaur having uses other than for commercial crew and Barbara wanted to know about the role of an Atlas for possible orbital tourism with a Bigelow space station module.  We talked about ULA’s potential interest in new spaceports which seem to be developing around the country, then I asked Dr. Sowers about what constituted a commercial space project. Here, we learned that commercial implies largely financed by private funds, not government money.  He said that EELV was developed by 80% private sector funding.  We also talked about the Arianne family of rockets and their pricing which is subsidized by European governments.  Dr. Sowers explained why it was so hard to compete against government subsidized pricing.  Another topic of interest in our discussion was launch vehicle market and pricing elasticity and how to drive up launch rates and lower launch costs.  We also talked about human spaceflight having the government as the primary leader for the market and cargo as having only an ISS market at this time.  On orbit propellant depots were discussed as was SLS and heavy lift.  As we neared the end of the hour, we talked about SRBs for the human rated Atlas.
     In our brief second segment, I went over the near term Space Show schedule and our last caller John from Florida called in to wonder if a real emergency came up if we would launch a crewed rocket/vehicle to try to save the ISS for example or would we be unwilling to take the risk and let the ISS deorbit in the example given.  Hopefully such a predicament does not arise.
     If you have comments/questions about our discussion with Dr. Sowers, please post them on The Space Show blog.

Rand Simberg, Monday, 10-1-12 October 1, 2012

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Rand Simberg, Monday, 10-1-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1863-BWB-2012-10-01.mp3

Guest: Rand Simberg. Topics: “Our irrational Quest For Absolute Safety in Spaceflight.” 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 back Rand Simberg to discuss his views on space safety with human spaceflight. On the heels of his successful Kickstarter campaign to finance his upcoming book on the subject, he discussed his early draft book ideas on this subject. While the program was two hours in length in two equal segments, this summary will reflect our discussion without regards to the segments because our overriding themes and our discussion carried over from segment to segment. Rand provided us with the background for his interest in this topic, he shared some logistical information with us as to how Kickstarter works and then we talked about the topic. Rand is purposely provocative both in the draft of the book that I read plus in our discussion today. Rand wanted to be provocative to help drive the point that in his opinion, we need a national discussion as to the importance of our space program & missions. He points out through a good historical summary in the book and on the show that in past exploration and big projects, we were willing to risk human life to accomplish the mission. To be clear, he does not advocate carelessness, stupidity, or anything like that but he says if space is really important, the mission or the objective should be more valuable than the life of the crew. Since we pursue ultimate astronaut safety, it confirms that what we are doing in space is not important. He cited example after example of this & I brought in additional examples including DOD & our Rules of Engagement in our Middle Eastern wars as our military safety takes second place or worse to the policy goals. The Hubble repair mission was an example of NASA reversing the initial policy where clearly the administrator at the time would not risk a crew and instead would let the HST be destroyed. Dr. Griffin reversed that decision showing that keeping Hubble going was valuable and worth the human risk. We had lots of callers and emailers, some agreeing with Rand and others more or less in agreement with him but challenging him in some areas of his discussion. Rand has some terrific one liners in the book and he said some on air. One such impactful line can be found near the end of the draft version of his book that I have as he is writing about opening up the harsh frontier & needing a rational approach to the space safety issue by saying “If we really mean it, we will dedicate a (large) national cemetery to those who will die in doing so.” Again, his purpose is to be provocative to make his point. Rand was asked if he has talked up his ideas to members of congress, staffers, policy makers, and such. Listen to how he responded to these questions. He was completely frank about it, including responding to questions about the impact his blog writings and those of others have on our current policy. Calling for a national discussion as to what our space policy should be, including how we value the purpose & the mission as compared to the astronauts is an important idea.
     If you have comments/questions for Rand Simberg regarding this two hour discussion, please post them on The Space Show blog above. If you want to email Rand, you can do so through me or his blog, http://www.transterrestrial.com.

Brian Mosdell, Friday, 9-21-12 September 22, 2012

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Brian Mosdell, Friday, 9-21-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1858-BWB-2012-09-21.mp3

Guest:  Brian Mosdell.   Topics: SpaceX Florida operations with Falcon 9, Dragon, Heavy, and more.  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 back Brian Mosdell, Director of the SpaceX launch operations in Florida.  During our one hour discussion, we talked extensively about the Falcon 9, Dragon, Heavy, the upcoming Oct 7, 2012 launch to the ISS for a cargo resupply mission, and much more.  Other topics included getting ready for the Heavy, pad modifications, the Merlin engine 1.1 upgrade, launch range issues, human spaceflight safety, Congressional hearings on human spaceflight safety, and more.  Listeners asked many questions by both email and the toll free phone line.  Dragon life support issues were discussed along with possibly speeding up the human rating and Dragon HSF flights to the ISS. Brian said these matters were in the hands of NASA and others and then he told us the timeline they were currently working on.  We talked about the Soyuz problems and delays and asked if any of this would alter the timeline for commercial crew development.  We also talked about differences and preferences in contracting formats between the FAR & the SAA.  Another listener asked Brian to compare and contrast his work experience on the Delta launch vehicles and now the Falcon.  Don’t miss this discussion.  Additional potential commercial spaceports were discussed, including possibilities in Texas and Georgia.  A listener wanted to know about Falcon manufacturing facilities and how the Falcon 9 was transported to Florida.  Brian broke the process down into components and said it all goes by private carrier over land to Florida or Vandenberg, mainly from California to Texas & then on to the final destination.  Brian talked about the upcoming Falcon Heavy and he got several listener questions about it.  Toward the end, Brian provided us with a rough schedule of planned events that we should keep our eyes on for the next year to two.
     If you have comments/questions for Brian Mosdell, please post them The Space Show blog.  Emails to Brian can be sent to me for forwarding.