Broadcast 343 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

31 May 2005 Elon Musk
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Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of SpaceX, returned as a guest for this Space Show program. We began the interview by getting an update from Elon on the Falcon 1 and its planned first launch which may be as early as August 2005. I then asked Elon why he did not consider an air launch vehicle. I am sure you will find his response informative and comprehensive. We discussed federal ranges, range fees, launching from the Cape, Wallops Island, the Pacific islands, Kodiak, and eventually from private spaceports. Mr. Musk was asked if the range fees were a true barrier to his business plan or if he was able to lower them to at least marginally acceptable levels. Listen to the program for his response. We also spoke about the regulatory process for Falcon I and the Falcon V. We talked about R&D costs, fuel costs, what it would take to be able to offer $500-$600 per pound to LEO launch costs, and more. Mr. Musk was asked about his learning curve in building and operating the Falcon, insurance requirements, orbital declinations, his engine reliability and advanced development characteristics, light weight materials, and many technical questions including first stage refreshment costs and the Falcon ablative engine nozzle. We talked about the launch industry market and how to fund the development costs to a mature industry from where we are today in the launch industry. Mr. Musk responded to my question about limitations in using chemical rockets with a resounding no limitation answer. In further discussion, it became clear that he sees additional and significant cost reductions coming from the comprehensive launch and business systems, not specifically from the chemical rocket components. You will find this part of the conversation particularly interesting in light of other recent Space Show programs. Elon Musk stressed the need for success for SpaceX or one of the other companies building modern launch vehicles if we are to become a space-faring culture with a space-faring economy. He made it clear that the high cost of space access is the main barrier to our being a space-faring people and that we could not look to the usual players to bring us into a space-faring world. This interview is a must for you to hear as Elon Musk is one of the premier entrepreneurial space businessmen if not the premier person. He is in the trenches doing all that he can with his own money to facilitate developing a space industry that enable low cost space access over a plausible period of time. He even talked about what would be necessary for SpaceX to do an IPO and bring in the necessary capital for the next step in developing a heavier lift launch vehicle. If you would like to ask a further question of Elon or if you want to get in touch with him, please do so through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will forward all messages to him.

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