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Guest: John Quinn; Topics: EXOS Aerospace, submarines & human spaceflight, suborbital, biomedical, reusability and more.
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We welcomed John Quinn to the program to discuss EXOS Aerospace Systems (http://exosaero.com). We started the first segment of our 1 hour 43 minute 2 segment program with my asking Mr. Quinn about his time in the Navy's submarine service. John talked about life on the two classes of subs he served, even a dependent day where they could take family members on board and he said his wife got to drive the sub. This discussion led to my asking him about submarine life being a good analog for human spaceflight. Don't miss what he said about this, especially when we talked about the Navy screening process and what he thought being confined in a vehicle would be like for regular folks going to Mars or the Moon. Our guest had some very interesting comments on this subject.
We left the discussion of submarines for a discussion that introduced us to EXOS Aerospace (note that many on the EXOS team were with John Carmack and Armadillo Aerospace). Our guest talked about EXOS technology development for suborbital and reusable flights since 2000, a lunar lander they worked on rocket engine reuse aiming for 1,000 firings. Our guest went on to tell us about the three programs with EXOS: 1.) Space education. Don't miss what he said about this; 2.) Biomedical activities and research flights; 3). Space manufacturing. Of the three, we spent lots of time throughout the entire program talking about the biomedical market and potential.
In introducing us to the biomedical market, John talked about the stem cell research and explained their program to fly stem cells, activate them in microgravity, and re-inject them into the person to fight disease including cancer. The stem cell research program our guest described was most interesting with what appears to be an excellent potential for fighting cancer and other diseases. Evidently being in microgravity activates previously inactive stem cells. Don't miss all of our discussion on this topic with Mr. Quinn. Let us know what you think by posting on our blog for this show.
A listener asked John about his company evolving to human spaceflight (HSF). He said HSF was very challenging. For now they were focused on perfecting suborbital flight and then moving to orbital payload and research flights. John then described their suborbital rocket, SARGE. Our guest not only detailed the rocket for us but he talked about launch sites for it (vertical takeoff), their mobile launch facility and capability, small and efficient launch crew and more. When a listened asked if there were investment opportunities with the company, he said it was privately held but note that later in the discussion he talked about financial needs as they moved toward orbital spaceflight.
Marshall was the first and only call for this show. He had questions for our guest regarding the landing site requirement. John talked about the fact that they were vertical takeoff, not horizontal, Our guest described the drogue parachute reentry and the use of the final steerable parafoil about 10,000 feet. He said they could land within 50 yards of the launch pad as they want to be slightly off in the landing. Don't miss his explanation.
The subject of getting the payload back was discussed in detail as well. Marshall had multiple questions about payload recovery and the time spent getting the payload back to the experimenter, especially the biomedical payloads as timing was critical for those experiments. In addition, we talked about the rocket capability and costs. Recovering the biomedical payload as you will hear is quite something.
Listener Dell in Denver asked about the suborbital research market. John addressed market concerns, reusability, FAA reviews, and more. He was asked about Virgin Galactic which he said was horizontal launch. Also, he commented on UP Aerospace which was vertical launch. These company questions came up because all of them want to use Spaceport America and all want to fly frequently. He said it would be difficult to launch in the afternoon out of Spaceport America due to the high winds that typically are present in that area.
In the second segment our guest was asked about their company timeline for orbital flights. He said about three years and then described their potential $75 million dollar fundraising campaign for orbital flights. John let us know they would have different divisions, EXOS Italy and EXOS Australia for other suborbital markets. He had much to say about European and south of the equator markets so don't miss this discussion. ITAR concerns were also mentioned. Keep in mind that I asked him specific questions about Italy and Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand, including questions about possible competitive launchers/rockets.
The subject of space vision came up when June in Seattle sent in a question about the vision John Carmack had for Armadillo and his vision. Again, don't miss what our guest had to say when responding to June. Blue Origin and SpaceX were also part of this discussion.
John was asked about educational outreach. He said the best inspiration came from 3rd-5th graders. He had much to say about their out of the box thinking and cited some examples. Don't miss the stories he told us about the school kid out of the box thinking. Note that one of the stories was about payloads, naming rights, and stickers, all designed to raise money for an EXOS flight a year into the future.
Listner Ted in San Diego asked John for the commercial pricing. He said it would cost about $6K for 1 kilo with a 3-4 month waiting period for a flight. As we were getting near the end of the program, John was asked about the drogue parachute picture on their home page, possible flight delays, and internships. Another listener wanted to know if an accident by another suborbital company could bring the industry to a halt. Listen to what he said happened after the Virgin accident in Mojave several years ago. Our guest then had much to say about the FAA and its work, did not think things would change with the Commerce Dept. getting in on the action and then he told us about the feedback EXOS and 40 companies provided to the government for streamlining commercial space rules. You do not want to miss what John said about the feedback and the rules.
Listener Paul asked for John's opinion on creating the new military service, the Space Force. Don't miss what John had to say. I picked up on his comments too, especially since Dennis Wingo addressed the same issue John mentioned when he was on TSS a few days go. Before the program ended, John was asked about coming commercial space industry trends, what he thought the industry would be like in five years from now and then ten years from now. Don't miss his concluding remarks which had much to do with financing and entrepreneurship. Before signing off, he described the upcoming hover test for the SARGE rocket.
Please post your comments/questions for John Quinn on our blog for this Space Show program. You can reach Mr. Quinn through the EXOS website above or me.