Broadcast 1176 (Special Edition)

18 Jun 2009 Tim Pickens
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Guest: Tim Pickens. Topics: Orion Propulsion, Inc, rockets, commercial space, NewSpace, business models and risks. Tim Pickens, President of Orion Propulsion, Inc. in Huntsville, AL was the guest for today's Space Show program. Tim started the discussion by updating us on some of the Orion project which can be found on their website at www.orionpropulsion.com. Of the projects discussed, we spent most of our time on the Bigelow Aerospace Sundancer program and the Boeing Ares 1 first and second stage RCS. Tim was asked to discuss his business model and to what he attributes his success given so many other NewSpace companies have more difficulty with their challenges than does Orion. Listen to what Tim has to say about Orion's business goals and action plan. This led to a discussion about a possible small rocket manufacturing consortium plan but getting the various companies to talk with each other and participate has been and remains a challenge. In response to listener questions about our going to the Moon and the technology being designed by NASA as a repeat from the Apollo era, he pointed out many technology advances that make the design and hardware needed nothing like what was used when we went to the Moon the first time. Listen to his descriptions of the hardware, fuel, and technology needed for our current lunar visitation plans. Tim was asked several questions about NASA but eventually it came down to the ultimate issue which revolves around congressional support and funding. Make sure you hear what Tim said about this. Do you concur? Since NASA is funded by congress and the programs need congressional support, I agree with this being the ultimate issue. The only thing I might add and maybe it should share the title with the ultimate issue is we need to be as certain as possible that what NASA designs and builds is cost-effective, works, viable, quality, etc. Later in the show a listener asked Tim about his ISDC 2009 green comments for the aerospace industry. Tim elaborated on this issue and I chimed in as well. For the most part, because of what is happening in the country politically, environmentally, trend-wise, etc, for any business to ignore environmental and green concerns, even the space and launch industries, they do so at their own peril. As I said during the show, for a start up to not plan for environmental costs, regulations, etc, then perhaps they don't deserve to be in business. It is not an issue of what the businessman or woman believes, its an issue of the reality of doing business in modern times. Environmental concerns are legitimate and here to stay, the impute costs to businesses of all kinds, and we need to guard as much as possible against that which is unfounded and rediculous. But it would be stupid of businessmen and women to not be concerned about the complete environment that they choose to operate and work in as they develop their business. At the end of the program, Tim was asked for his "Pearls of Wisdom" comment or concluding remark. He said "not having funding is no excuse for not doing something!" How true that is and that is why I am repeating it here in this program description. How often do we allow a problem, even a significant one like not having funding, to just stop us cold in our tracks. As Tim said, do something, build something, but there is no excuse for doing nothing. Many other topics were discussed including high powered amateur rocketry, the Huntsville business climate and more. If you have a question or comment for Tim Pickens, you can email him at tpickens@orionpropulsion.com.

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