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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13 September 3, 2013

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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2079-BWB-2013-09-02.mp3

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Guest:  Sir Martin Rees.  Topics: Interstellar travel, the future of space &science, quasars, life extension, Mars missions & more.  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 back Sir Martin Rees to discuss his chapter in the new book Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon, edited by James & Gregory Benford.  Sir Martin’s chapter, titled “To the Ends of the Universe,” looks forward through time and centuries to address human spaceflight, eventual interstellar travel, life extension & more.  In looking forward, he levies criticism on the past. We talked about several of his comments regarding our past & current space program. Dr. Rees mentioned the need for life extension though for Mars he said we could do that without life extension but we should not fool ourselves as it will prove far less comfortable than Mt. Everest or the South Pole.  We talked about finding planets & the possibilities for life, then we switched to the discovery of quasars soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Listeners asked our guest about his comments that the political impetus for current & future space work seems to have been lost, especially in contrast to the Apollo era.  In his response, our guest suggested we need low cost and reusable launch vehicles given how costly everything is today.  He commented that mining asteroids did not make sense other than for ISRU purposes. Before going to break, he was asked about the UK government investment in Skylon which he supported.

In the second segment, we spoke about changes in the UK space activity over the past decade.  Sir Martin made comparisons with the UK, ESA & NASA, especially regarding long term planning & our very short one year budgets.  He suggested our budget process makes us unreliable partners in many respects.  Quasars were again a discussion topic, plus Sir Martin fielded a question from a high school student wanting to know how we know the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe.  Another listener wanted to know about science fiction as a leading indicator for science.  Dr. Rees suggested some excellent books for those interested in reading specific science fiction works. James Benford, editor Starship Century called to point out the excellent reading list in the back of the book, plus he offered us important comments about the book & authors. Near the end, Sir Martin was asked to look forward 10-15 years & tell us his thoughts.  His response focused on finding even more planets around the stars, identifying more threatening NEOs, & even more attention given to life extension issues.  The last two questions asked our guest dealt with the ISS living beyond 2020 asking if that was valuable and also the recent podcast by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson that SpaceX would not be able to go to Mars.  Throughout the discussion, he mentioned the private sector doing things government could not, especially due to less risk averseness.

Please post your comments/questions for Sir Martin Rees on The Space Show blog.  You can reach him through me or his Cambridge website, www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~mjr.

 

Frank Stratford, Friday, 5-17-13 May 18, 2013

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Frank Stratford, Friday, 5-17-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2010-BWB-2013-05-17.mp3

Guest:  Frank Stratford.  Topics:  Commercial space and space travel business models and revenue generation.  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 Frank Stratford back to the program to discuss various commercial space business models, including nonspace revenue generating goals and objectives.  Frank is the founder of MarsDrive so for more information, visit their website at www.marsdrive.com.  During the first segment of our 1 hour 42 minute program, Frank introduced us to the topic in his April 22, 2013 Space Review article, “The Business of Space Travel” (www.thespacereview.com/article/2281/1).  Frank talked about the need to generate nonspace revenue while building up the space company & space revenue R&D, activities, & markets.  He cited SpaceX, Bigelow, & Blue Origins as examples.  This led to a discussion about markets & financing, plus estimated costs for a human spaceflight mission to Mars. Frank compared the Mars One $6 billion estimate to his own estimate from his research to be $15 billion.  Our first caller asked if big name investors associated with these early commercial space ventures created an expectation of success and may in fact turn out to not have been such a good idea.  The detailed discussion included ROI, Stratolaunch and the revenue cycle gap from up front/early capital needs to revenue generation later on in the project’s cycle.  We talked about the nonprofit or charity model and Inspiration Mars came to mind.  I entered the discussion with comments about the need for repeat customers, a commercial space success to model, unrealistic assumptions, the lack of due diligence, and the difficulty in cost estimates, especially when the cost of getting to the destination (the Moon for example) is unknown at this time.  Surrey Space & Technology was also brought up as an example of a good business to model.

In the second segment, our called pointed out a Moon & Back interview with Robert Bigelow in which our caller said Bob said he went into the r/e business to fund his space activities.  Later, he email in additional comments suggesting that just because a space venture or idea is not funded does not mean it’s a bad idea or concept. He then advocated NASA support such as with COTS and Commercial Crew.  Public/private partnerships were advocated as a good way to move forward with space development and exploration.  Frank was then asked if a failed commercial project would hurt the industry.  He said it was possible.  Another question came in regarding paying attention to human factors and if solutions would be available at the same time as engineering technology, financing, and maybe markets.  Frank said only if work moved forward on human factor solutions at the same time and at a similar rate.  He also advocated his own organization working the problems.  Listen to his reasoning behind this.  As the program was nearing close, Frank was asked if Curiosity found proof of life in the past or now, even the most basic life, if it would make HSF to Mars more of a priority.  Don’t miss Frank’s response.  In summary, Frank talked about the need for continuous incremental development.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  If you want to email Frank Stratford, you can do so through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12 August 4, 2012

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Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1828-BWB-2012-08-03.mp3

Guest:  Cristina Chaplain.  Topics:  Government Accountability Office (GAO) and its work for DOD military space, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and NASA.  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 Cristina Chaplain to the program to discuss with us how the GAO works and what it does for space and NASA along with the DOD and MDA at the request of Congress.  Ms. Chaplain started with an overview of the GAO, its Congressional mandate followed by the use of examples to illustrate how the GAO operates.  Our guest referenced the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA programming, & the fact that GAO investigations/audits are meant to answer the specific question being asked by Congress.  As you will hear during the show, this is important because the organization only addresses the question being asked regardless of it being the right question.  Make sure you note this discussion as it will likely impact how you process news reports about GAO reports in areas that interest you.  My suggestion is to go directly to the GAO website, www.gao.gov, find the report in question, then check to see what the GAO is answering in terms of the mandate given them by Congress.  During our initial segment, we discussed, the GAO Cost Estimating Guide and their Best Practices Guide. Cristina talked about the new EELV July 2012 study, EVOLVED EXPENDABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy.  You can find this study at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-822. Ms. Chaplain also talked about the Bid Protest process, then I asked about GAO audits/investigations & about the new private space companies, SpaceX and the emerging new industry.  I also inquired about GAO findings regarding the use of the FAR contract as opposed to the SAA.  This is a most interesting discussion & analysis.  Later in the segment, Cristina received a question about the GAO role in the DOD EELV block buy program and if they considered the impact on the competition.

In the second segment, we talked about Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) & the GAO analysis, conclusions & FY 13 budget cuts.  This led us to talking about mission and program goals & is the project in question meeting these goals.  Return to the Moon and Constellation came up as did the Shuttle cancellation, along with questions pertaining to the MDA.  Whistle blowing was an important part of these discussions. Our final topics included vertical integration, suppliers, quality control, and the SLS program.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to email our guest, you can do so at chaplainc@gao.gov. You can also subscribe to GAO reports, including their specific space, defense, science & technology reports, www.gao.gov/subscribe/index.php.