Broadcast 3638 Dr. Greg Autry

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Guest:  Dr. Greg Autry;  Topics: A brief space policy history of accomplishment, Biden administration space policy, returning to the Moon, cost and budget issues, commercial space, and more.

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We welcomed back to the show Dr. Greg Autry who briefly summarized space policy and commercial space history from the early Bush administration up to and including what we may know about the Biden Administration.  Greg officially participated in some Trump Administration space policy matters and at one time was the White House Liaison at NASA.  Greg was nominated by President Trump to serve as CFO of NASA but the Senate failed to schedule a confirmation vote for him.  In his history summary of space, especially commercial space progress, he referenced the XPrize, SpaceX starting in 2010 and now today, traditional space industry progress, getting increases in the NASA budget, bringing back a strong National Space Council, the Artemis return to the Moon program and The Artemis Accords which is bringing in important international partners.  Greg briefly touched on the economic impact of space on the economy but later in our discussion this particular topic got more attention.  In addition, we talked about Greg's op-ed at Forbes.com for Jan. 26, 2021 titled "Oh No, Not Again: The Moon vs. Mars."  You can download and read the article here:  .  www.forbes.com/sites/gregautry/2021/01/26/oh-no-not-again-the-moon-vs-mars/?sh=96eef1a57e56

In talking about the Biden Administration and space, our guest said it was too soon to be definite but since he knew many of the people selected as early space advisors, he thought the program of record would continue and there would be stability in the transition.  This was especially true when he was asked about Artemis and returning to the Moon.  He did say, as have others, that the timeline might change but he thought we would continue with our commitment to return to the Moon.  This seemed to be confirmed in a general stated at a White House press conference held a few days after our interview with Greg.  As for The Artemis Accords, he thought they would continue as a strong plus for international partners with many already signed up.  As part of this discussion, our guest was asked about China, their lunar plans, and US concerns about the Chinese space policy.  He suggested that China probably was influencing to some degree US policy with regards to the Moon and space. 

Greg had lots to say about Jim Bridenstine as the now former NASA Administrator.  He then mentioned that China was providing space competition and Greg said competition was good and helped to keep us sharp and productive.  He repeated that competition was a good thing.  We went back to the regulatory environment discussion.  Greg cited examples of businesses that have done very well in space because the regulations were not so constraining as to stifle company growth.  He even talked about foreign companies coming to the US because here they could grow and operate without destructive regulations.  He mentioned RocketLab as an example.  Our guest remained optimistic that the regulatory environment would continue being commercial space friendly and supportive. 

A listener asked Greg about the availability of capital for NewSpace down the road.  This was an important question so don't miss how our guest answered it.   Listen to what he said about possible industry shakeouts in some space segments with a timeline of roughly five years. 

A new listener emailed Grey asking him why going to the moon was important.  Greg spent several minutes responding to this question , pointing out some strong economic factors that will likely drive lunar return.  Definitely listen to all of what our guest said, paying particular attention to the returns, dollar amounts and statistics referenced by our guest.  This discussion included future development, potential benefits like fusion, and more.  In speaking about the contribution of GPS to the economy, we got a call from Richard Eastman.  Richard and Greg had a most interesting exchange a bout GPS and its economic and intrinsic value to our way of life.  Before moving on, the risk of an EMP was brought up.  The need for backup satellites that can quickly get to their station in case of loss was highlighted. 

Space Solar Power (SSP) was a late program topic.  Listen to what our guest had to say about it, the wealth prediction vis a vis our global satellite industry, and related topics.  Nearing the end of the program, Bob in NY asked about computing the value of human spaceflight.  Listen to what Greg said about it as it was a complicated topic but an important one.  It was also a topic of great interest to our guest.  This particular question and the human spaceflight topic introduced cost comparisons to the discussion.  Greg mentioned ISS, Orion and F-35 cost overruns of $185 billion.  Listen to how he put all of these on context to the original human spaceflight question.   Before signing off, Greg told us the story of why the Senate never got around to holding his confirmation vote. 

Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Autry on our blog for this show.  You can reach our guest through me.

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02 Feb 2021 Dr. Greg Autry
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