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Small Sat Conference 2013, Friday, 8-16-13 August 16, 2013

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Small Sat Conference 2013, Friday, 8-16-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2070-BWB-2013-08-16.mp3

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Guests:  Robert (Bob Meurer; George Torres.  Topics:  Two separate interviews from Small Sat 2013 on ATK commercial space & ATK Aerospace Group.  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.

Our first interview is with Robert (Bob) Meurer, Director of the ATK Business Development Division in Beltsville, MD.  During this 33 minute segment, we talked about how the small satellite market has changed and evolved since we talked with Bob at last year’s conference, plus we got updates on the DARPA Phoenix project, ViviSat, commercial opportunities and issues, the hot new market for on-orbit satellite servicing and the leadership role of ATK in this rapidly developing industry.  For this interview, Dr. John Jurist was co-host.  We focused on commercial development and related issues such as space tugs, even Moore’s Law as a metric, distributive satellite networks, the need for competitive ROIs, and more.  Bob spent more time with us regarding ViviSat and geo telecommunication two ton satellites.  We also addressed the emerging competition, the impact of sequestration and lots more.   ITAR came up as did the relevance on the ATK business of the Small Sat Conference.

Our next segment featured George Torres, Vice President of Communications for the ATK Aerospace Group in Salt Lake City, UT.  George talked about the announcement for ATK being awarded the ALV first and second stage contracts for the boosters for the Stratolaunch project.  George described the boosters, their proposed capability, and more.  We also talked about the high energy solid rocket propellant used by ATK for this project, then I asked George about the five segment booster from the Aries 1 which was cancelled a few years ago.  The five segment booster is interchangeable with the sections of the four segment booster used by the shuttle and now these boosters are being used for the SLS.  We talked about the upcoming static firing tests for the new SRBs for Stratolaunch and SLS.  George then talked about the ATK work in the field of composites and how they are a leader in the industry, doing the composite work for many other companies.  He described the ATK Aerospace Group which includes two launch groups, two satellite groups, and the composite group.  Before our segment with George ended, we returned to the subject of the five segment booster and SLS, focusing on the previous development motor static tests and the upcoming static firing tests actually being qualification motor tests.  Near the end of the segment, George updated us on the Liberty Launch Vehicle. ATK is now positioning Liberty for the cargo market but this will depend on the market for the capacity Liberty offers.

Please post your comments on The Space Show blog per above. You can email either of our two guests through me.

Dr. Allan J. McDonald, Wednesday, 6-20-12 June 21, 2012

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Dr. Allan J. McDonald, Wednesday, 6-20-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1800-BWB-2012-06-20.mp3

Guest:  Dr. Allan J. McDonald.  Topics:  “Truth, Lies and O-rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.”  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.  We welcomed Dr. Allan McDonald to the program to discuss the Challenger accident from the inside.  Visit his website for more important information, http://ethicskeynotespeaker.com.  If you order his book from Amazon with the following URL, Amazon will make a donation to The Space Show/OGLF:  www.amazon.com/Truth-Lies-O-Rings-Challenger-Disaster/dp/0813041937/ref=onegiantlea20. During our fist segment, Dr. McDonald provided the background on why he wrote the book & his information sources.  He mentioned some of the difficulties he faced getting it published & his decision to work with the famous historian & author, Dr. James Hanson.  During the remaining part of this segment, he went over the real story of what happened before, during, & after the Challenger accident.  He told us about the three part conference call the night before to determine if Challenger should be launched, the requirement by NASA management for the engineers to prove that what they were saying about the o-rings & cold temperatures would cause failure rather than asserting it was unsafe to do the launch given the prevailing temperatures & winds.  We learned about NASA management intimidation & compromises eventually made by Thiokol to support NASA management contrary to the engineering data that existed.  Dr. McDonald explained what was behind launch “go fever” & the most probable source for it.  Our guest talked at great length about the temperature parameters, the evidence they had from recovered SRBs leading to severe cold weather safety concerns, all of which NASA management ignored.  We also learned about extremely cold temperatures, 6-7 degrees at the launch site, & that it was not reported by NASA personnel the morning of the launch.  We fielded several listener emails & phone calls.  Some questioned NASA management about their engineering knowledge & competence.  We also talked about the lack of accountability for decision making within NASA at the time.

In the second segment, questions about liquid rocket engines as compared to solids were answered, supported by facts.  For those of you who disagree with Dr. McDonald on this issue, why not post questions for him on the blog?  Later I asked about making the SRBs without segments & if they were segmented only to please theUtah delegation back in the day.  Our guest had much to say on this, talked about the very large un-segmented SRBs that were made & ground tested near theCape, & he explained several of the trade decisions that must be evaluated were we to go to one large booster without segments.  Dr. McDonald explained his redesign & the fix implemented after the accident. He also talked about the oversight involved in the redesign process & why it was nearly impossible to come up with an approved & effective fix for the o-ring problem.  We talked some about the Challenger litigation, then our guest was asked for the new SRB cold weather operating parameters.  In his closing comments, he pointed out the lessons to be learned with one of the main points being that many people against the launch for solid engineering reasons never spoke out given they were intimidated by NASA management wanting to do the launch no matter what.  He said that it was an ethical obligation to speak out in these matters.  People must not remain silent & that was & is today an essential lesson to be learned from Challenger.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.

Mark Whittington, Sunday, 2-26-12 February 26, 2012

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Mark Whittington, Sunday, 2-26-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1721-BWB-2012-02-26.mp3

Guest: Mark Whittington.  Topics: Space Budgets, policy, & politics.  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 Mark Whittington back to the show for this 2.5 hour wide ranging discussion on space budgets, the economy, space policy and space politics, plus economic issues facing the nation and others around the world.  We also talked about space perspectives of all those running for president including President Obama and the Republican party challengers.  Mark talked about two article he wrote that were pertinent to our discussion.  These articles are (1) “Moon Base Supporters Struggle to Justify the Project:”

www.examiner.com/space-news-in-houston/moon-base-supporters-struggle-to-justify-the-project; and (2) “A Lunar Exploration Reading List for Mitt Romney:”

www.examiner.com/space-news-in-houston/a-lunar-exploration-reading-list-for-mitt-romney.  In our first segment of 45 minutes, we talked about Texas space politics & redistricting, the Johnson Space Center, & the proposed FY 13 budget.  Mark suggested Congress would rewrite most of the budget but that the Senate would likely not pass a budget so we would end up on CR.  I asked Mark how that would lead to programs being cancelled such as ExoMars if we are still on CR as those programs are embedded in the CR from year to year.  Mark described the process through administrative acts by NASA, Congress, or the President re cancellation, and what the Appropriations Committee would have to do to avoid them. For the most part, more money would need to be found for NASA but that was not likely. Mark talked about what constitutes commercial saying that for something to be really commercial, it has to be able to fail. We compared today’s commercial space programs to gov. programs in terms of Mark’s criteria.  Listeners asked about SLS & Orion, wondering if it & when SLS would be cancelled. The idea of a lunar base was discussed in light of the comments made a few weeks ago in the Florida debate by Newt.  Mark also talked about what he thought might be the space policy of the other candidates though not that much is known other than for Newt, Mitt, and President Obama.  Mark talked about cutting out other budgetary items to make room for a quality space program & he highlighted the high speed rail program.

In our long second segment, Marshall called with a question about the original Mercury astronauts still alive.  We  talked some about human factors, microgravity, and life support issues.  Listeners asked about the Chinese space program & their military buildup.  Here, I referenced the recent congressional testimony of Ronald Burgess, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  The article I referenced is at http://bigthink.com/ideas/42630.  Mark spoke at length about exploration, citing his favorite history story involving Prince Henry The Navigator of Portugal. Jim asked Mark that if he believed commercial space was the best path forward & that SLS was a bad idea, how would he go about getting more support for commercial space even at the expense of SLS.  Mark offered some concrete ideas in response to Jim’s question. John from Billings sent in a few notes & then later called to talk about why there is such an argument about SRBs as compared to liquid rocket motors.  Challenger was mentioned along with Constellation but mainly Mark said that people’s behavior tends to find ways to support their beliefs. Terry, another Texan like Mark, called to ask why Sen. Hutchinson so strongly opposes commercial space.  Mark offered a pretty good answer.  Risk taking, more on SLS, Dream Chaser & the CST 100 were discussed along with the new project, Stratolaunch. As our program drew to a close, I asked Mark to summarize space policy for 2012 which he did do but then more questions came in.  Becky wanted Mark to connect the dots vis a vis our economy & how this might impact NASA & all space development.  This led to quite a little economic discussion with Mark, myself, and Dr. Jurist who called in about that time.  As usual, I went off on my rant about space as an investment, not an expense.  Jack got in the last word asking for three key events impacting space for 2012 other than the election.  Mark said the upcoming Space X flight, what Congress does with the budget, and the planned Chinese mission later this year.  In his concluding remarks, Mark talked about the economic options facing the country & he left us with a few points to consider.  He urged us to participate in Town Hall meetings and ask the candidates space questions.

If you have comments/questions please post them The Space Show blog.  Marks blog, Curmudgeons Corner, is at http://curmudgeons.blogspot.com.