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Guest: Christian Davenport; Topics: A detailed and inside look at the space barons both creating and leading our new space development and exploration efforts. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.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 Christian Davenport to the show for a one segment 71 minute discussion regarding his new book, "The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos." I began our discussion with Chris by asking how long it took it to research and write this very good comprehensive book regarding today's space barons. As you will hear, it was no easy or short task, including the time and effort it took to arrange interviews with the main players in the story and in our new space industry. Chris took us back to some of the early starts of the space barons such as Elon Musk during the Bush term with the COTS program for cargo to the ISS. He then moved us forward with the two main barons, Musk and Bezos. Mars was talked about re settlement, the Antarctic was mentioned as an example offered up by Bezos regarding difficult and extreme places to live. Chris then got an email from Ben in Denver asking him to tell the opening story from his book about a Texas helicopter crash with Jeff and others onboard as they were looking for a West Texas location for the Blue test site. Chris told the story so listen up, you will find it most interesting.
Another example of stories from the book involved the 2013 Dragon thruster problem. Chris talked about the problem and the way the main NASA people stood back and let SpaceX work the problem and resolve it in time which is what happened. He mentioned that Lori Garver was the Deputy Administrator at the time and wanted the NASA guys to be much more proactive in the Dragon thruster repair problem. Don't miss this story and how when left to its own, SpaceX got the job done on a very short time line. Another listener in San Diego, Todd, wanted to know if Chris has colored his reporting on Bezos because of Jeff's ownership of the WAPO which was the employer for Chris since Chris was a journalist for WAPO. The short answer was no but listen to all of what Chris said in response to this question.
The issue of both Bezos and Musk having a science fiction interest and having said the sci fi played a major role in influencing them was discussed. This led to discussing science fiction in general but it was worth noting how both were heavily influenced and shaped by their love for science fiction. During our discussion, Chris talked about the Bezos idea of making Earth a sort of National Park zoned residential and for light industry. Space and beyond would be where all the heavy industry and manufacturing took place. This came up a few times during the program.
Mark called from Petaluma to ask about Bigelow and private space stations given Chris having talked about needing a destination in space. Mark thought that private space stations such as what Bigelow was working on would be key to our future in space. Chris had much to say on this subject and said that Bigelow as covered in his book. Don't miss all of what he said about Bigelow and private space stations. Next, Doug sent in a note asking about the Blue Origin motto. Chris talked about this in detail so don't miss it. In addition, Alan Boyle talked about the Blue motto on his program from earlier in the week. We fielded other listener questions on various topics, then I asked Chris what was most impactful to him given his research on the book.
Chris listed several big impact items resulting from my question. He talked about SS1 and the winning of the X Prize. He talked about the issue of regulating and dealing with risk and the start of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. We then talked about risk, compared it in some ways to climbing Mt. Everest and to people being killed as they tried to reach the top. Don't miss this risk discussion which also referenced work by Rand Simberg and Sir Richard Branson after the Virgin Galactic accident. Chris further mentioned the progress with the Falcon 9 and the Dragon.
Another topic discussed was how costs were being reduced by the barons. We talked about the unusual parts procurement efforts of Space X. Chris told us stories of SpaceX getting parts from eBay, adopting regular commercial parts for their rockets and more. He then told a Bezos story about their test stand compared to one by NASA.
As we moved toward the end of the program, Chris was asked about Paul Allen and the need for great space visions. He said major takeaways from his book included the story of how both Musk and Bezos became stars in the space industry and country as a whole. Just before we ended, Josh asked Chris what Musk and Bezos thought of one another. Competition was part of the response but don't miss what Chris said about the two moguls. Karen had the final question wondering if Bezos supported the Trump Moon policy, the NSC, and LOP-G given his opposition to the administration through WAPO. Chris said that Blue and Bezos wanted to work with the administration to return to the Moon as they saw the Moon as being essential to moving forward in space. Don't miss all of what Chris had to say on this subject.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. Chris Davenport can be reached through me or his Washington Post journalist page.