Broadcast 2312 (Special Edition)

Feedback: What did you think of this show?: 

Guest: Dan Adamo. Topic: Range safety issues at the proposed Brownsville, Texas spaceport plus much more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, 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 For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. We welcomed back to the show Dan Adamo to discuss his paper, "Range Safety Implications for Brownsville, Texas Launches To Earth Orbit." You can freely download the paper by registering for at During the first segment of our 2 hour program, Dan started out telling us why he did the calculations and wrote this paper. Next and for the balance of the discussion, we talked about range safety issues, the enforcing organization which is the FAA, the Brownsville EIR, SpaceX launches & how they might work given the range safety constraints that may be applied to this launch site. As you will hear, Brownsville is a completely new launch site with zero history or data behind it so as Dan said, it might have been very easy to overlook or even defer the analysis regarding range safety issues. Also note that Dan said range safety issues are not concerned with the normal or the nominal ground track. The range safety rules consider what may go wrong and who might be impacted by a failed launch, even if it might be rare that such an incident would happen. In response to email questions, Dan said that range safety issues apply to the launch regardless of destination though clearly they can limit the choice of destination as in the case of limitations from Brownsville to the ISS. Dan does a good job of explaining this in the first segment and throughout our discussion. He also addressed listener questions regarding a possible difference in the range safety rules for cargo/satellite launches & human launches. Another issue that came up questioned if FAA range safety rules would be applicable to a private spaceport in the same way for a government launch center like the Cape, KSC, or Vandenberg. Dan said yes and explained the reasoning behind range safety rules. Joe emailed in about range safety for Russian launches, then as the segment ended, our guest addressed launching from other parts of the Texas Gulf Coast which he said presented similar constraints as Brownsville. In the second segment, Alan asked Dan if he would write a simple primer for orbital dynamics to help the untrained person understand the issues better. Dan will be considering doing that. The question came up if SpaceX rockets would be required to use explosives on board for a destruct command or if the termination of thrust in a problem launch could be handled by other means. Dan got specific questions about the EIR and a possible Falcon Heavy launch as well as Falcon 9 launches. As we neared the end of the show, the subject of reusability came up and then the sparks flew as listeners did not like what Dan said and which I supported. For the most part, the controversy arose because Dan suggested that some customers may not want to pay for the launches of others through reusability and in fact may need more lift from the rocket or more fuel on board their satellite. Reusability requires putting extra mass for hardware and fuel on the rocket, not the customer's payload. He noted that several Falcon 9 launches had already been made without the reusable hardware. I supported this economically & suggested that as we move toward a fully commercial launch market, customers will buy the launch that meets their needs. Some may be OK with the lower launch costs and less payload capacity while others may need all the fuel they can get on their satellite or all the launch power they can get to put their heavy payload into the right orbit. I made an analogy to the trucking industry where people rent or buy the type and size of truck they need to get the job done & suggested this would emerge for our launch industry in the future. Listeners objected, remained focused only on lower launch costs & not customer requirements. Several listeners sent in strongly worded emails of disagreement with Dan and me for our comments. Both Dan and I said over and over again we supported SpaceX in its reusability work and were glad they were doing this work. We only suggested that the economic of it were still unknown but that would likely change fair soon given the success SpaceX is having with its R&D for reusability. Still, this did not set well with some listeners. If you have questions/comments please post them on TSS blog above. Even your critical emails but remember our rules for civility. Ideas are fair game, w e do not permit character assassination or name calling. If you want to disagree with Dan, do so with civility. Also, if you do want to disagree, brings facts to the discussion as that is always better than just ideas without supporting information to backup the ideas. You can email Dan Adamo through me. Be sure to download his paper and read it.



WARNING: Using Disqus Comments on the Space Show:

To ensure your comments do NOT get caught in the Disqus automatic spam filter systemplease login to your Disqus account or create a verified/approved Disqus account.

Posting multiple URL links WILL TRIGGER the Disqus automatic spam filter system.

09 Sep 2014 Dan Adamo
Your Amazon Purchases Helps Support TSS/OGLF (see

The Space Show Toll Free Number is only available on live broadcast programs. Please call 1-866-687-7223

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • moonwards-logo