Broadcast 3042 Tom Olson

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • helix-space the space show sponsor

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Tom Olson;  Topics:  A variety of important topics for this year in review program covering commercial and all of 2017 space activities.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   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

We welcomed back Tom Olson for his annual Space Show year in review for 2017 space activities.  We started our two segment 1 hour 55 minute discussion with Tom focusing on the 2017 launch industry. Elon Musk and SpaceX were the stars of the year so listen to all of what Tom had to say on this subject.  He also addressed other individuals and launch companies, including Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin and his series of rockets and their successful flights. Orbital ATK was mentioned, then had much to say about SLS and some of the remaining challenges for it.  I made a type of comparison with SLS financing and "progress" as compared to what SpaceX was doing with the hyperloop Musk related project and Gov. Brown's Bullet Train (to nowhere as most Californian's describe it).  Looking at the economics and costs for Hyperloop and their progress which is now or will be soon begin seeing testing as compared to zero progress with the train, one does not have to tax their brain see the advantages of a Musk operation compared to a government project.  The same for inspiration and motivation for people.  Dream Chaser by Sierra Nevada made Tom's list in the launch segment as did Virgin Galactic.  Later I mentioned the dedicated small launchers coming on line with Vector and Rocket Labs just to mention a few.  Tom included both China and India progress in the launch segment of our discussion.

Related topics were small sats, 3D printing in space, and then the rhetoric of space tourism.  Tom had much to say about exaggerated claims and timetables and listener Michael Listner sent in a note to make sure we included space tourism in those claims.  Toward the end of the launch segment discussion Tom talked about the 2017 failure of XCOR.

Next up was a review of the financial and investment side of space 2017.  For this part of our review program, Tom cited a series of important statistics about the industry so I urge you to listen carefully to what Tom said and referenced.  I suggested to Tom that despite the great things happening in the financial and investment part of commercial space, there were still few if any opportunities for Joe and Mary Sixpack to invest in space.  I reminded Tom of his before its time effort to promote the Colony Fund several years ago.  This opened up an entire line of discussion with Tom mentioning multiple space industry funds that were planning to come on line in the new year totaling close to a billion dollars! You do not want to miss this industry update and the exciting things happening with commercial space investment opportunities.  As part of this segment, Tom listed the very credible investment analysis reports by BofA, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and others.  He also talked about the big players in the commercial space investment world's don't miss that list either.  This discussion took us through to the end of the first segment.

We started off Part 2 of our program with Tom's continuation of the finance and investment side of commercial space for 2017.  He talked about the role of the internet and companies such as One Webb, SpaceX, Google, plus the untapped markets in hard or underserved areas and regions. 

Tom mentioned the UK company that he works for Avealto, Ltd. They are working on an orbital platforms about 20-25 KM up in calm sky for internet and communications in the underserved markets.  He said they were partnering with JP Aerospace on this project

Tom then addressed space policy during 2017.  He mentioned the Space Policy Directive 1 recently issued by the Trump Administration, the bringing back to life of the National Space Council and the program to return to the Moon.  Tom thought this was all good but having heard great space plans announced by other administrations with very little happening, he said he was hoping this time it would be for real but it was a wait and see.

Among the several listener questions sent in for Tom, Charlene wanted to know about human spaceflight for 2017 and the prospect for it for the new year.  Tom thought much would depend on NASA and the participants actually getting flight hardware certified as human OK.  The human certified hardware needs to start flying, including the suborbital flights.  Listener Robert in Boston asked Tom if commercial space was vulnerable to political events happening around the world as well in the US.  Tom offered a very interesting response to Robert so don't miss it.

Tom turned his attention to the think tank, The Center for Space Commerce and Finance (CSCF).  As part of the CSCF, he talked about the business plan competition around the country, specifically in Austin where judges came out of their own pocket to make an award to the second place winner.  Tom then mentioned that at the upcoming ISDC meeting in Los Angeles in May 2018, the CSCF would have a two day program, May 26 & May 27, "Farmer in the Sky" which will focus on space agriculture.  As we were nearing the end of the program, Chester wanted to know how Tom viewed the space settlement effort in 2017 and what he thought might happen with it in 2018.

Some of the highlights of the year that we just touched on before the end of the program include space sciences, the Cassini mission, Saturn, Enceladus, Dawn, Ceres, making rocket fuel off Earth, Voyager still alive after 40 years, exoplanets galore, developments with interstellar flight, gene editing for human spaceflight, the biotech industry and space, plus a few more pearls Tom provided us with before the close of the program.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Tom Olson through me or CSCF at or his company,  




Tom's Annual Space Year in Review Program

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29 Dec 2017 Thomas A. Olson
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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