Broadcast 1206 (Special Edition)

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Guests: Charles Precourt and Trina Patterson. Topics: Ares 1, space policy, crew safety, mission success. While attending the SmallSat Conference, I requested a meeting at ATK Space Systems in Promontory, Utah, in order to understand and accurately report on the Ares 1 rocket. Space Show friend, frequent guest, and One Giant Leap board member Dr. John Jurist accompanied me to ATK Monday morning, August 10, to meet with Trina Patterson, ATK spokesperson and Charles Precourt, vice president and general manager of Space Launch Systems for ATK’s Space Systems Group. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ARES 1 TEST WE TALK ABOUT DURING THE INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CHANGED TO THURSDAY, AUGUST 27 AT 1PM MDT. THE CORRECT HIGHWAY TO GET TO THE TEST SITE IS HWY. 83. Our meeting with Mr. Precourt had absolutely no ground rules. All questions were welcome, and the interview you will hear in Segment 1 has not been edited other than to raise the volume and add the traditional Space Show introduction and disclaimer. Note that each of the program segments flows to the next without any specific or separate introduction. The segments are separated by 2-3 seconds of silence. During the 75-minute Segment 1, both Dr. Jurist and I asked Mr. Precourt as many questions as possible, including technical, media, and policy questions. Dr. Jurist went into some detail with engineering and physics specs for Ares 1. Mr. Precourt answered all questions without hesitation and in as much detail as time permitted. This was a frank, factual, technical and straight shooting interview regarding Ares 1. We even talked about the type of press and media coverage Ares 1 had received, as well as the Air Force report indicating that for 30 seconds of the two-minute burn of the Ares 1 first stage, the debris from an SRB destruction event would create an environment where the Orion crew would have no chance of surviving. Pay close attention to what Mr. Precourt had to say about the Air Force report and this important issue. We also talked in depth about the Ares 1 oscillation problem and about overall crew safety. Mr. Precourt was asked about risk taking and he addressed spaceflight safety in comparison to Air Force fighter aircraft crew safety statistics. We talked about the type of testing being used on Ares 1, SRB issues, and why use an SRB at all for the first stage, the national space policy, and space missions. This is an important interview and discussion, and I urge all of you to listen and tell others about the program. In Segment 2, we caught up with Trina the next day under the SmallSat lunch tent as we asked Trina to tell everyone about the upcoming five segment Ares 1 test now set for Thursday, August 27 at 1 PM MDT. This event is open to the public, so if you can come to see this unique static test firing, Trina tells you how to do it, where to come, the timing, driving distances, etc. After discussing the upcoming static test, I asked Trina some questions about the media coverage Ares 1 had received. I know you will find her comments and recommendations for how to spot a potentially inaccurate or troubling news story to be of great interest. The insights Trina provided can be deployed across the board on all news stories we hear, read and see. Segment 3 of this program features a discussion with Dr. Jurist and me about the interview with Charles Precourt and the subsequent tour ATK gave us to see the Ares 1 on the test stand ready to go for the August 27 static test. John started this discussion with his three take-away messages from the meeting and the tour, and then I added my thoughts to this discussion. Both of us went into the meeting with a degree of skepticism about Ares 1. We came out of the meeting, our discussions, and the tour knowing much more and believing that Ares 1 had been given a bum rap in the media and blogosphere. Note that neither John nor I believe this to be the most ideal program available but, given where we are today, the rocket options on the table, the work and testing done so far, we came away believing Ares 1 represented the best approach. We did not discuss other rocket options nor did we delve into the rest of the Constellation project or its economics, the Ares 1 economics, including maintenance and ongoing operating costs. These are very important issues but they were not part of our ATK interviews or this particular Space Show program. If you have a question or comment about this program, the discussion with Charles Precourt, the August 27 Ares 1 static test or anything related to ATK or Ares 1, please contact Trina Patterson at Trina.Patterson@ATK.COM. You will hear Trina offer more than once to respond to your questions and comments, so take advantage of this opportunity. All other show questions or comments for Dr. Jurist, me, or both of us should be directed to One final note. Mr. Precourt referred to an Ares 1 PowerPoint presentation for a few minutes during the first part of our interview. I have this ATK PowerPoint presentation and will e-mail it to anyone requesting it. Send your request to me at the e-mail address above.



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14 Aug 2009 Dr. John Jurist, Trina Patterson, Charles Precourt
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