Broadcast 1331 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

22 Mar 2010 Steve Landeene
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Guest: Steve Landeene. Topics: Spaceport America and spaceport activities in general. Steve Landeene, Executive Director of Spaceport America, was our guest to discuss Spaceport America and our civil and commercial space policy and spaceports in general. We started our first segment with a general overview of Spaceport America in New Mexico and its primary tenant, Virgin Galactic. Steve brought us current with the construction activities underway at the spaceport, including the 10,000 by 200 foot runway which should be completed around June 2010. He told us some of the history of the area and the spaceport and responded to some questions about the commercial infrastructure which will eventually support spaceport operations. I asked Steve if the spaceport would be able to allow general aviation planes to land and he said those discussions were underway but there were several general aviation airports nearby including one at Hatch, Truth or Consequences, and in Las Cruces. Listener Tom wanted to know the spaceport's plans for using green energy. Listen to how the spaceport is being constructed to include environmental and green technology from the ground up. In addition, he said there was a possibility for some geothermal energy, solar, and solar thermal. The use of bio fuels was also a possibility. I asked Steve about the NM financing for Spaceport America and how that financing was holding up given the recession. Listen to what he had to say about the financing and its status as its most interesting and positive. At the end of this segment, I asked him for his five year plan for Spaceport America. You don't want to miss what he had to say for five years out. We started the second segment with questions about New Mexico and the adoption of limited or no liability laws as has been the case in Virginia and Florida. Steve talked about the recent NM legislative passage of the Informed Consent Law and the use of the limited liability approach, he talked about the correctness of using the term spaceflight participant instead of passenger, and the Spaceport Council where the spaceports are working together to forge a common set of solutions to common problems. Listen to what he said when asked if there were too many spaceports given that as of yet there are no suborbital spaceflights. Steve then talked about their sister spaceport, Spaceport Sweden, and the ESRANGE test range plus the Ice Hotel. I also got him to describe his stay at the Ice Hotel. A Los Angeles listener asked Steve about a backup plan in case Virgin Galactic's business does not turn out as expected. Listen to the Plan B Steve discussed with us. We started the final segment with a discussion on the new space policy proposals for the NASA 2011 budget. Steve believes these proposals to represent the proper path and the switch to commercial launch systems represents the future of our space policy. He talked at length about both Orbital Sciences and Space X as well as going over some of the problems associated with the POR/Constellation. During this discussion, we talked about markets, risk, and the proper role of government in building infrastructure and buying down some of the commercial risk. Later in this segment, I asked Steve how many launch days are typical in this part of New Mexico and the answer was about 340 days a year. Toward the end of the segment, he fielded questions about the El Camino Real Trail and the steps they took to work with the environmental groups that wanted to be sure to preserve the trail. Their approach was an outstanding one leading to success. Listen to this discussion as I believe this approach could easily be used by others in similar situations. If you have a question or comment for Steve Landeene, please email him at Steve.Landeene@state.nm.us. For additional information about Spaceport America, please visit their website at http://www.spaceportamerica.com.

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