Broadcast 3581 Grant Bonin

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Guest:  Grant Bonin; Topics; Spaceflight, Inc launch service to the industry, market analysis, launchers, customers and more.

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We welcomed Grant Bonin, the Senior VP of Business Development for Spaceflight, Inc, to the program to discuss their launch services for both the customer and the launch company.  Included in this 90 minute discussion were market assessments for the launcher industry, cislunar commercial opportunities, plus demand for various services on the customer side of the industry.  To start our discussion, our guest provided us with a basic introduction to the company, including information about the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. acquisition  and the new opportunities brought about by being able to access larger financial transactions and opportunities. 

Parts of the discussion that stood out for me included how the company helped customers deal with launch delays.  Grant talked about this at different times during our discussion but this seemed to be a huge benefit in working with Spaceflight.  As we all know, launch delays are typical, even beyond the few days for bad weather.  If you need revenues from getting your satellite on orbit and get stuck with long delay, you can be dealt a hard blow. Listen to how Grant solves that problem for customers.  As he pointed out a few times during our conversation, if the customer booked a launch directly with the launching company and the delay hit them, they would likely be hurt were the delay to drag on.  Comment on our blog, ok?

Talking about cislunar markets also got my attention when a listener asked him what markets were there since we were far from being on the Moon, had no real rocketry for cislunar, no commercial opportunities banging at the door and such.  Don't miss what he said about opportunities available even now for cislunar opportunities that we could service with existing technologies.  Grant's comments opened my eyes to a larger field of commercial service and launch opportunities around cislunar than I had previously thought about. 

Our guest was asked for his opinion of the market strength and size for both launch vehicles, customers, and cislunar.  We talked about the possibility of oversupply and other commonly discussed issues with these markets.  This part of our conservation was valuable so don't miss any of it.  Another area that got my attention came about because of my question regarding spaceports.  Given that The Space Show recently did a spaceport program, I wanted to know from our guest to what degree a spaceport might be an issue in selecting a launcher.  Well, no surprise that the answer was that spaceports did not seem to be an issue. Other issues and concerns showed for both the industry and the customer but our guest said that the spaceport was incidental to the other factors pertaining to any given launch. 

Later in the program, I asked our guest if he thought nuclear thermal propulsion would make a difference in cislunar and with the industry from a commercial perspective.  This question came up because of the recent press about DARPA working with a private company on nuclear thermal propulsion for a $14 million study grant of sorts.  Our guest was very positive about nuclear thermal so don't miss this part of our discussion.  Let's hope it happens this time around.

Lunar opportunities applicable to the company were talked about by our guest.  He was also asked if the company provided post launch services or assisted with the satellite company operations once in orbit and operational but the answer was no.  Launch insurance was an important topic.  Grant was asked what happens with the customer if the launch is a failure or the rocket blows up.  Insurance was the answer but listen all of what was talked about in this part of the discussion.  As we moved toward the end of the program, I asked Grant about his fees, their markup and their pricing.  A late question came in from Jennifer in Boston wanting to know if they would at some point consider launch services or supporting the human spaceflight market.  He gave a qualified answer to the question so be sure to listen to all of what was said.  For the most part, they would be supporting human spaceflight but not engaging in sending humans to space. 

Grant summarized our discussion and provide closing comments you will want to hear.  Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show.  You can reach our guest through me or the Spaceflight, Inc. website address provided earlier in the program review.

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02 Oct 2020 Grant Bonin
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