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Charles Miller, Monday, 9-30-13 October 1, 2013

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Charles Miller, Monday, 9-30-13


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Guest:  Charles Miller.  Topics:  Commercial space, small satellites, commercial crew, human spaceflight & 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 Charles Miller back to The Space Show for this 1 hour 31 minute program.  During the first segment, Charles talked about the future of commercial space, extending the life of the ISS, managing risk and uncertainty to maximize returns and benefits for commercial space, plus he used the company he co-founded, NanoRacks, as a commercial model utilizing the national lab ISS.  We talked about commercial crew, the success of the Space Act Agreement for contracting and pockets of congressional resistance to the commercial and Space Act programs.  In discussing commercial opportunities on the ISS, we also talked about CASIS and the role it is playing in bridging the gap and facilitating commercial companies using the ISS.  Charles then talked about his company, NexGen Space LLC and he referenced the DARPA XS-1 Reusable Spaceplane.  A listener asked our guest about a possible influx of commercial opportunities from outside the U.S.  In response to this question, Charles talked about competing cultures and why the U.S. is so strong with its culture of innovation.  Commercial crew, human spaceflight, and the need to spend 6 months training in Russia were discussed with the latter being an impediment.  Suborbital demand was a topic as were the commercial efforts by Boeing, Sierra Nevada, ATK and other mainstream aerospace companies.

In our second segment, we talked about Kickstarter and the use of crowd funding in the emerging commercial space industry.  Innovation and low cost space access were key topics and themes for this segment.  Listener Jack asked about space entrepreneurial management teams & what to look for in a quality team.  I asked Charles to tell us where he thought the industry would be in ten years.  Charles talked about small satellite constellations, far more affordability across the board, and a large growth space tourism industry.  He also mentioned that the turning point will come when we have cheaper access to space than today. Toward the end of our discussion, Charles was asked for his suggestion for the best path to pursue for those seeking commercial space careers. In response, he talked about getting real hardware and flight experience & mentioned high schools that provide this experience.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog per above.  Charles Miller can be reached through me using drspace@thespaceshow.com.

Dr. Jason Cassibry, Tuesday, 10-9-12 October 10, 2012

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Dr. Jason Cassibry, Tuesday, 10-9-12


Guest:  Dr. Jason Cassibry.  Topics:  A technical description and the potential of fusion propulsion.  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 Dr. Jason Cassibry to the program to guide us in our discussion of the potential for fusion propulsion.  At times, this was a very technical discussion.  To assist in following it, I have uploaded to the blog his published paper delivered at the AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, “The Case and Development Path for Fusion Propulsion.”  In addition, below are the URLs for several articles on fusion propulsion that Dr. Cassibry shared with us: www.uah.edu/news/items/10-research/2501-slapshot-to-deep-space#.UDrKn-iPVuY;
www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/rockets/the-big-machine-that-could-lead-to-fusion-powered-spaceships-9450996; http://io9.com/5921673/nuclear-slapshots-could-propel-a-spacecraft-to-mars-in-just-weeks; www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=23442
and http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/10/zpinch-nuclear-fusion-pulse-space.html.   Dr. Cassibry started out by providing us with a working definition of fusion propulsion.  We talked about nuclear propulsion as well and the overall state of development for fusion energy.  I asked Dr. Cassibry if in their economic projections for fusion propulsion, they considered the political and policy impact on fossil fuel pricing and supply availability.  As you will hear, generally such factors are not included in their studies though he concurred with me that such policies can strongly skew the economics one way or the other.  Several calls came in on a wide ranging group of associated topics.  We talked about the main fusion fuel, lithium deuteride, magnetic nozzles, and the use of a nuclear fission reactor to start the fusion propulsion unit.  Z-Pinch technologies were defined and discussed.  As the segment drew to a close, I asked about funding sources for this research and we learned that most all of the funding is from public sources.

In our second segment, more listeners called in regarding insitu resource usage, nuclear propulsion to start the fusion unit, and the power consumed for all of this.  We talked about using fusion propulsion for a Mars mission and what it did for travel times.  Jason also put forth a suggested time line and path to follow to operation in perhaps 25 years, depending on funding.  More calls came in with fuel questions, vibration impact, G force acceleration, thrust, and more.  Another topic discussed was fusion propulsion for the launch vehicle.  We then compared some real mission travel times such as Cassini, Voyager, and New Horizons, asking what the transit times would have been like using fusion propulsion.  As we were ending the program, I asked about the students entering aerospace engineering at UAH, both the undergrad and graduate level, plus the gender mix of the students.  There appears to be strong demand by the students to study these fields at all levels.  In conclusion, Jason suggested that we could look for breakeven with fusion in about ten years, maybe less.

If you have comments/questions, please post them on The Space Show blog.  Dr. Cassibry’s faculty page at UAH is www.mae.uah.edu/faculty/cassibry.shtml.


Cassibry et al case for fusion 072812