Broadcast 2545 (Special Edition)

Feedback: What did you think of this show?: 

Guests: Kathy Lueders; Dr. Heidi Fearn; Topics: First segment: NASA Commercial Crew. Second segment, Dr. Heidi Fearn re Mach Thrusters. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, 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 For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. Welcome to these two recorded interviews during the week of the AIAA Space 2015 conference. The first interview for about 40 minutes is with Kathy Lueders, the NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager. I was joined in the interview by my two co-hosts, Rand Simberg and Leonard David. The second interview took place on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Dr. Jim Woodward's physics lab at Cal St. Fullerton University with the tour being conducted by Dr. Heidi Fearn. Robert Jacobson was my co-host. During the first segment, Ms. Lueders explained the commercial crew program, milestones, budget issues, program objectives, and the certification process. She explained these subtopics in detail. Rand, Leonard and I asked her many questions about the NASA definition of safety, we proposed "crazy thinking" scenarios to her to see how NASA might react in such a situation and if they would be flexible enough to use hardware that may be ready but not yet certified. Kathy pointed out that non-cash assistance was still flowing to Dream Chaser and Blue Origin. When asked if she thought NASA would get its full commercial crew budget that they are asking for, she was positive but you decide after listening to her. This was a good, comprehensive discussion on many important topics including NASA risk taking and the commercial crew astronaut selection process. In the second segment, Robert Jacobson and I drove down to Cal St. Fullerton to see Dr. Woodward's lab and to talk with Dr. Heidi Fearn about their mach thruster work. The lab was very small & most the equipment was made by Dr. Woodward years ago. Heidi showed us a mach thruster and explained how to see the effect on the computer that measures the small amount of movement from the thruster. She explained it very well so while you won't be able to see what she is talking about, I believe you can easily follow along. We walked over to the vacuum cylinder which she explained, she then talked about the floating tables and why the need for them, plus we talked about scaling up mach thrusters. I asked her several questions about their out of the box work at Cal St. Fullerton, students, delivering papers, and her reception by her peers. You will find her responses to these questions to be very interesting. Later during the tour, she turned on the experiment and Robert and I could clearly see the computer recording the movement over the background noise. We have a cell phone picture of it which I will put on the blog for this show. Near the end of our 45 minute tour and discussion with Heidi, we asked her about funding and timelines. She suggested a timeline for going to Alpha Centauri which sounded way too soon to me but she explained why she thought it was plausible. Tell us what do you think? Please post your comments/questions for either of our guests of the co-hosts on TSS blog above. You can email any of the guests or co-hosts through me at



WARNING: Using Disqus Comments on the Space Show:

To ensure your comments do NOT get caught in the Disqus automatic spam filter systemplease login to your Disqus account or create a verified/approved Disqus account.

Posting multiple URL links WILL TRIGGER the Disqus automatic spam filter system.

03 Sep 2015 Dr. Heidi Fearn, Kathy Lueders
Your Amazon Purchases Helps Support TSS/OGLF (see

The Space Show Toll Free Number is only available on live broadcast programs. Please call 1-866-687-7223

  • moonwards-logo

  • The Space Foundation Conference