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Lesson 5: Archive Notes March 31, 2010

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.

Space Show Classroom Lesson 5:  New Space: What It is, Capabilities and Potential

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Archive Notes and Program Information

The Space Show Classroom Lesson 5 can be downloaded or heard at:


Guests:  CLASSROOM; Paul Breed, Dr. Jim Logan, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  New Space Industry.  Welcome to The Space Show Classroom Lesson 5 on the New Space Industry.  Please remember that if you have questions or comments regarding this program or for any of the participants, post them on the Classroom blog at https://spaceshowclassroom.wordpress.com.  Emails sent to me will be posted on the blog on your behalf. As we started Lesson 5, we asked guest panelist Paul Breed of Unreasonable Rockets to define the New Space Industry.  This is a detailed and comprehensive discussion on what makes up the industry, why its hard to describe and define, and some of the defining characteristics. For example, is the industry defined by the nature of the customer, who pays the bill, is New Space a publicly traded or private company or something else.  We talked about the difference in the government funding Ares and Constellation and the government funding EELV and Falcon 9 and why the latter are considered commercial rather than a government project.  We also discussed the difference between the commercial industry and what makes up the New Space industry.  I asked the panel about safety issues and NASA objections to handing off human spaceflight to commercial companies on the basis of safety concerns.  Listen carefully to what Paul and the co-hosts had to say about this as there were some differing perspectives.  Its fair to say that whatever happens, effective oversight is needed, not just for the engineering, but for the management.  The need for New Space to make money was discussed throughout the program and as you will hear.  Paul suggested space tourism was probably the most likely business to be profitable, especially in the near term.  Later in this segment, we talked about the need for most New Space companies to attract capital and this led us to discuss market issues for the New Space Industry.  The suborbital research market was discussed as well as the NASA efforts to fund its development.  This was questioned by our panel, especially since sounding rockets already cover suborbital research and are far more powerful and cost effective but they are not human tended.  Don’t miss what our panel had to say about this potential business model.  Dr. Logan talked about how NASA had utilized effective human factors research on zero g flights for 30 seconds at a time as part of this suborbital examination, evidencing that an actual suborbital flight was not always necessary.  You will find his comments on CPR and the use of defibrillators on the ISS and the research done on the zero g flights to be most interesting.  As we concluded our fist segment, Paul said that he would discuss a list of New Space companies and their status in the next segment.  As we started the second segment, Paul did go through a lengthy list of most New Space companies, their status and capabilities.  Rather than listing all the companies in this summary, let me say that this is a must listen to discussion.  Toward the end of the discussion, I asked our panel if VASIMIR was considered New Space.  Everyone said no so listen why.  We talked about the many businesses attending the Small Sat conference and their being part of or considered to be New Space.  Listen to what our panel members had to say about this.  The Space Access Society was discussed as was their upcoming conference and many of their participants as this is the New Space conference.  The Orbitec Vortex Motor was talked about as were various pumps, both from XCOR and Flometrics.  As our program came to a close, I asked the panel for an estimate of where the New Space Industry would be in five years.  The consensus seemed to suggest a 50-50 chance for commercial success in the five year time window.  Regardless, Paul did say lots of interesting things would be flying around in this time period.  Again, any comments or questions you might have for any and all panel members are to be posted on The Space Show Classroom Blog under Lesson 5 Archive Notes at https://spaceshowclassroom.wordpress.com.  Emails sent to me will be uploaded to the blog under your name.


1. Jim Davis - March 31, 2010

The subject came up about why certain companies do not like to be referred to as ‘newspace’ companies. I think there are two reasons why this is the case.

1. There is widespread perception that the leaders of the newspace companies are dreamers that think with their hearts instead of their heads. Elon Musk’s stated Mars plans come to mind. To many the talk of colonies on Mars, space solar power, asteroid mining, O’Neill habitats, etc give the impression that newspace companies do not have the appropriate focus in the here and now.

2. Many newspace companies cultivate a very vocal online community. This online community is frequently noted for uncivil behavior. Condescension, gloating, boasting, and bashing of anyone who steps outside of certain ideological bounds are common. An example of this sort of thing is the disparaging term ‘dinospace’ to refer to traditional aerospace companies and government agencies. Another example is the castigation of the FAA for claiming that tethered tests are indeed flights under their jurisdiction and a few months later congratulating a newspace company on making its first flight – a tethered flight. It is little wonder that many companies do not care to be tarred with the ‘newspace’ brush.

2. John Thompson - March 31, 2010

I agree with your comments Jim. Few new companies are successful, but I do believe that the private industries in this field will make suprising success, but the key is good management and revenue. That is a never ending battle.

3. drspaceshow - March 31, 2010

The few people I have asked about this at Small Sat and elsewhere tell me they are not normally part of a space advocate or space enthusiast community, they are busy with their businesses and running them, and most claim they have serious internship or educational outreach programs that take up most of their free time or non-management time. The other thing they say is that their clients/customers do not associate with New Space terminology or activities so it would not be wise for them to position themselves as New Space. A few say its a negative but most that I have talked with just say no time for anything like that, busy running the business and serving customers. My sample size on this is very small so it can hardly be used as a significant statistic, but I believe its interesting to know how many of the companies mentioned outside the framework of last night’s discussion see and position their own company and work. David L.

4. Andy Hill - April 4, 2010

During the show “project 248” and George Herbert was mentioned does anyone know where I can find out more about this, the SpaceAccess website hasn’t got much info on this other than the title “Project 248” – 2 people, 4 days, 800 kg: Minimal Crew Capsule For A Ton-Class Launcher.

Perhaps this might make a good future spaceshow, particularly in light of the tendancy for spacecraft to get heavier not lighter.

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