Broadcast 3782 Dr. Casey Handmer

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Guest:  Dr. Casey Handmer:  Topics:  The primary topic was Casey's blog article "Starship is still not understood" at  Later in the show, we talked about his latest blog post, "Scaling carbon capture" at

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We welcomed back to the program Dr. Casey Handmer to discuss his recent blog post about NASA still not understanding Starship plus later in the show Casey told us he was starting his own business and leaving JPL.  He spoke about carbon capture which was also the subject of his later blog post on scaling carbon capture.  The links to both articles can be found in the above paragraph.

We started the discussion with Casey's detailed explanation behind his Starship blog regarding just how important Starship will be and how it will impact human spaceflight plus other elements of space flight including cargo.  He cited a recent NASA meeting where Starship did not show up as part of the future planning needed for NASA going forward, thus the premise of his article that NASA still not understand the just how Starship will impact space flight.  I suggest you read the article because Casey did a great job of showing just how Starship and its capabilities will likely impact, even change the way space is done.  After reading it, one can only wonder if NASA will blunder its way through the changes or be a leader in change and new methodologies.  Note the stats Casey has provided in the article.  Such stats go to illustrate the magnitude of potential change from a successful Starship project. 

We took several listener emails and phone calls.  Doug sent in multiple notes but on one email he asked Casey about specific risks which he listed.  I read all his emails on air so you will hear the risks brought up for discussion and how our guest responded to each one of them.  Early in the discussed, Casey did mention potential negative consequences for Starship.  About midway through the program, listeners, including Linda, asked Casey to identify each and every possible negative consequence for Starship, wondering just how such a negative consequence would be handled by NASA and/or SpaceX.  Don't miss this discussion.  Casey went on to discuss Starship and the mass margin.  This was a very important part of our interview so be sure to hear all of what our guest had to say on mass, design, optimization, and related concerns.  About this time, Doug emailed us his question about risks. One of the mentioned risks was the Starship acoustic risk. The Space Show has covered this subject on many programs so I was surprised when Casey seemed to indicate it had been resolved.  Listen to how Casey described this risk and the solution.  Please post your comments about the acoustic signature of Starship on our blog.  If you have updated information as to how SpaceX plans on dealing with this risk factor, let us know.

Later in the show, the Blue Origin Orbital Reef project came up for commentary. We talked about it being a type of spoke and hub structure with modules.  Casey identified some module potential like space manufacturing and space hotels but when asked if markets existed, he said there was lots of uncertainty.  He also indicated that the only way to really find out about demand was to do the project and find out first hand if a market with sustainable demand existed.  He mentioned this approach for several commercial space projects discussed during our conversation.  SLS was brought up by a few listeners, mostly wanting to know what Casey thought about the viability of SLS with a successful Starship.  This also produced interesting commentary so be sure to hear what our guest had to say regarding SLS.

Near the end of the program, Casey told us he was leaving JPL in the near future to start his own business which would focus on climate issues and carbon capture as a profitable venture.  Casey, in a limited way, explained his new business, talked about making carbon capture a profitable business and we agreed to talk about his new venture during the first part of next year.  Be sure to read his article on carbon capture as the URL for it is listed early on in this summary.  We wish Casey great success in his new venture.  

Casey offered a good conclusion to our comments ranging from Orbital Reef to all aspects of Starship and how Starship will change our space world.  By the way, there were other brief topics brought up during this program though not all are mentioned in this summary.  So listen carefully to what our guest had to say.  It was a very interesting discussion cover multiple hot topics and topics of great interest.

Please post your comments/questions for our guest on our blog for this show.  You can reach Casey thorough me or his JPL page until he retires in the near future.




Dr. Handmer's latest on Starship & NASA plus additional topics

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05 Nov 2021 Dr. Casey Handmer
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