Broadcast 1339 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guests: CLASSROOM; Dr. Jeff Foust, Dr. Jim Logan, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. David Livingston. Topics: U.S. Commercial and NewSpace Launch Industry. Welcome to The Space Show Classroom Lesson 6 on the U.S. Commercial and New Space Launch Industry. Please remember that if you have questions or comments regarding this program or for any of the participants, post them on the Classroom blog at under Lesson 6 archives. Emails sent to me will be posted on the blog on your behalf. We started our discussion with Dr. Foust providing us with an overview of the U.S. Commercial Launch industry, starting with United Launch Alliance (ULA) which is a partnership with Boeing and Lockheed Martin making both the Atlas and Delta rockets. As you will hear, Dr. Foust did a superb job taking us through the launch companies and their rockets, explaining their missions, reliability, and costs. He included the Space Shuttle as our only human spaceflight launch system. We talked about markets and emerging markets and compared different rockets and options to the domestic trucking transportation system, exploring with our panel what it would take to have a truly commercial launch industry as we do a trucking and other commercial industries. Jeff outlined the needs of the three main segments in the industry, military, civilian, and commercial. This is a most important discussion. We then talked about how launchers are optimized. As you will hear, they are not optimized for cost but instead for schedule and reliability. Jeff clearly explained why this is so for each segment and why cost is not the primary issue. We then applied this analysis to the Falcon 9 and its potential commercial market, and as you will hear, Dr. Logan questioned if there was really a commercial market if the only customer was government. See what you think of this discussion and how Jeff responded to Jim Logan's questions in this area. This discussion led us to explore exactly what the new commercial markets for rockets might be and we focused in on Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) and what that might eventually lead to for emerging markets. The elasticity of the launch market was analyzed and our panel considered the impact of lowering launch costs without a corresponding increase in demand. Jeff cited examples in COMSAT launches per year. In the end, Dr. Logan suggested all of this might just be a zero sum game. Post your thoughts on this on the blog. Other potential markets were mentioned such as spacecraft servicing missions, propellant depots and more. Listen to what our panel members said about this. Clearly, there are unanswered questions. As our first segment came to a close, Dr. Foust went through a brief EELV history in response to questions from Trent in Australia. We started the segment with the oil tanker and liability question raised by Joe in Houston. The NewSpace launch industry and its potential was next up for discussion. Jeff took us through the various NewSpace launch companies and provided us with current updates on most of them. John in Atlanta brought up the idea of the space manufacturing business as a market driver. Listen to what our panel had to say about this. We also talked about ITAR reform and potential ITAR reform impact on the launch market and the NewSpace Industry. We digressed from the launch industry with a series of questions about artificial or partial gravity and the need for a centrifuge in space to determine what is actually needed for long duration spaceflights. Dr. Logan brought us up to date with some information about NASA work in this area. Somehow this took us to discussing zero gravity surgery and we learned about simulated experiments using the zero g planes. Later in the segment, we talked about different launch technology as well as heavy lift. VASIMIR came up as did the nuclear rocket, space elevator, and heavy lift, including Direct 3.0. Jeff had much to say about heavy lift regardless of the vehicle design or concept used. He said if space exploration is the goal, its essential. If space exploration beyond LEO is not the goal, heavy lift is not so important at this time. At the end of the program, we talked about the possibility of extending the Space Shuttle beyond the announced retirement. Dr. Foust suggested it might be extended by a few flights but nobody knew for sure. Dr. Logan expressed a firm opinion supporting its retirement. You do not want to miss this discussion. Dr. Foust concluded this Classroom program by saying we were in very interesting times with the potential to have a real paradigm shift in how space is viewed and how we access space. At this time, the verdict is out on the success of such a paradigm shift. Again, any comments or questions you might have for any and all panel members are to be posted on The Space Show Classroom Blog under Lesson 6 Archive Notes at Emails sent to me will be uploaded to the blog under your name.



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05 Apr 2010 Dr. Jeffrey Foust, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. David Livingston, Dr. Jim Logan
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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