Broadcast 3246 Tom Olson

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Tom Olson; Topics:  Tom presented a comprehensive launch, commercial, science, government and private sector overview of 2018 space activities.

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We welcomed Tom Olson back to the show for his annual review of all things space for 2018.  During the first segment of our two segment 1 hour 45 minute program, Tom talked about history being made and started re space from Feb. 6, 2018 with the launch of the Falcon Heavy and the near simultaneous recovery of the two booster rockets.  Don't miss what Tom said about this event and why he thinks it will go down in history as the pivotal historical date for commercial space history.  Let us know what you think by posting on the blog

Next, Tom had much more to say about 2018 events, first by talking about SpaceX and the BFR which now has a new name, Starship.  He talked about the design changes for the big rocket, all of which you can read about here:  Tom mentioned the progress being made with both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin re suborbital flight, suggesting commercial flights might actually start in 2019.  Following this discussion, Tom talked about the high launch rate this year, specifically the launch rate of SpaceX and China. 

We switched focus to the Moon and human spaceflight, in particular our possible return to the Moon.  Tom had much to say about the Gateway.  As you will hear, he was not supportive of it but listen to his analysis.  What do you think?  Let us know by posting on our blog.  In addition, he talked about Gateway articles by Dr. Robert Zubrin.  Here are the two articles Tom referenced on the program:  Since Tom mentioned that NASA should buy the ride, listener Karen in Denver mentioned that was already happening with COTS and Commercial Crew contracts.  She asked Tom why there was a disconnect with buying the ride going on into the future with the lunar rockets and Mars. 

As part of the Gateway discussion, it was brought up that there were no lunar landers and that many thought the Gateway would defer and actually stop humans landing on the surface of the Moon.  I asked about a space race with China but he said there was no such space race other than a race between government space and private space.  We then took a call from John in Ft. Worth who generally as we all know, supports the Gateway and SLS.  John had much to say regarding Tom's comments and what Tom reported was said by Dr. Zubrin in his articles.  Tom brought up cost economics to use SLS and Orion going to the strange orbit of the Gateway versus a few FH launches.  What do you think?  Then Tom once again brought up the materials being used in the redesign of the BFR to the Starship.  

Marshall called and brought up the issue of uncertainty and how that impacts our space policy.  Jeff Krukin called to talk about the House failing to pass the Space Frontier Act which the Senate passed and sent over to them.  The ACT failed because Rep. Defazio killed it due to an issue about the increasing launch rate and how that is impact aviation air space which is a real issue.  Here is the Space Policy Online article explaining the situation:  Let us know what you think about this issue, again by posting on our blog.

In the second segment, Tom talked about and quickly summarized many of the science missions from the year.  He also talked about potentially harmful microbes on the ISS coming from the toilet and the gym.  Don't miss what he said about this.  The missions he referenced included InSight, Tess, Kepler Space Telescope, the Parker Solar Probe, the Asteroid Ryugu, Dawn and JWST.

As we moved toward the end of our program, Tom brought up commercial space and financial issues, Space Angels, the high altitude platform for internet and other comms, ESA, and the Center for Space Commerce with the regional Business Plan Competitions plus he planned Space Investment Summits.  In addition, the Heinlein block grants were discussed along with the progress being made by Vector and RocketLab.  Before we ended, we went over his future plans, some of the conferences that are being planned, the need for future space leaders, and the internationalization of the business plan competition.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Tom Olson through me or the Center for Space Commerce website,




Tom Olson Returns With His Annual Wrap Up Of The Space Year for us

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30 Dec 2018 Thomas A. Olson
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • The Space Foundation Conference