Broadcast 3113 Dan Dumbacher

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Dan Dumbacher;  Topics:  The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), supporting the space industry, AIAA Forum, mission planning, due diligence, engineering & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  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

We welcomed Dan Dumbacher to the show for this one segment 61 minute discussion about The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) as Dan is the AIAA new Executive Director.  Dan introduced us to the AIAA, plans to grow the organization and to support the broader space industry.  We talked about ways to spread the word about the importance and value of our space industry plus tools that could be used to engage and enlarge interest in space.  Our guest then provided us with a quick overview of both the domestic and international space industry.  Dan also talked about AIAA membership, the AIAA Foundation and K-12 outreach plus other AIAA educational programs.  One of the additional topics focused on as a result of a listener email was the goal of growing AIAA beyond and outside of just the engineering segment of the space industry.  Dan talked about including the liberal arts, attorneys, business people and more as he said all these disciplines were needed to grow and expand space to prove out the benefits for us all that we know space can provide to many people and countries. 

Dan was asked about the five annual forums which he described for us.  He then mentioned that the AIAA was going to be the sponsor for the IAC meeting which will be held in Oct. 2019 in Washington, DC.  As you will hear, this is a big thing with a big responsibility.  He described how AIAA was preparing to support and sponsor the AIAA 50th celebration of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.  Dan was quick to point out that the Oct. 2019 event was not a joint conference with AIAA but that as the sponsor, AIAA would be supporting the IAC in many ways.  I asked if there would still be a Space 2019 meeting that year plus I asked if the Space forums would be returning to California.  Regarding the latter point, he said they were discussing venue options for the Space meeting but no decisions had been made at this time. 

We took several listener email questions during our discussion.  Jack wanted to know if AIAA had an entrepreneurial focus or more of a traditional aerospace industry focus.  Don't miss what Dan said in response to Jack's question.  Listener Joe asked a question based on the Tim Pickens program from the night before regarding skilled labor shortages and problems for the smaller and startup space companies.  Dan was aware of the skilled labor issues and said that their SciTech Forum reached employees, students and young people working in the field to help bridge the gap Tim referred to on his show.  He described some of the AIAA efforts for bridging this labor gap so again, listen to all of what our guest had to say on this topic.

Listener Randy asked about AIAA and internships, wanting to know if AIAA served in some clearing house capacity to help students find internship opportunities.  AIAA does not act as a clearing house but again, looking to the forums, they bring the businessmen and women together with the students and often internship arrangements are made at the event.  He said the last SciTech Forum has around 1200 students in attendance.  You can learn more about the AIAA SciTech Forum here:

Dan fielded a very interesting question on AIAA and its perspective on SLS vs. the private rockets such as the Falcon Heavy, BFR, or the New Glenn.  Dan said that AIAA does not take a position on things like this but does encourage full conversation and debate on the topic.  He then told us about how he worked with his Purdue class on an issue like SLS vs. the private rockets.  You need to listen to what he described as his system would certainly benefit all of us.  In his response, Dan talked about assumption making, due diligence and fully understanding the mission requirements.  He spoke to holding people accountable for their actions.  Don't miss this discussion.  I'm sure I will use and refer to it on future Space Show programs.

Listener Sherry wanted to know about AIAA efforts to meet with state legislative bodies and Congress.  Dan pointed out that as a 501C3, AIAA could not lobby so they meet with elected officials to education on space matters.  In addition, Randy wanted to know about AIAA being involved in the selection of a NASA Administrator.  Dan said they do not get involved but they work with the NASA Administrator all the time.  He said selecting the administrator is a political process with our constitution and they do not get involved in hat process as it is very much a constitutional process. 

Near the end of our segment, Henry in Denver sent in a note asking Dan why he should join AIAA given all the other space organizations available for advocacy, mission support, conferences, and such.  He said the competition for his being a member and for financial support was fierce so he wanted Dan to make the case for joining AIAA.  Dan had much to say in response to Henry.  Before we left the topic, I offered my opinion on why one should select AIAA.  Don't miss this discussion and when you hear it, let us know what you think by posting your thoughts on TSS blog for this show.  Before going to concluding comments, a listener sent in a comment about the announced NASA advanced aviation research going on for a new SST or low boom technology jet aircraft.  The listener wanted to know if AIAA included aviation and this subject in the forums and its educational work.  The answer was a definite yes but listen to all of what Dan said about low boom technology for aviation and the AIAA.

Before we ended, I asked Dan about AIAA and hobby rocketry given I met a Northern California hobby rocket guy working with students at several high schools throughout the region.  Dan said that AIAA did not focus directly on hobby rocketry but was aware of what was going on and mentioned many of the organizations and competitions.  He said that AIAA local chapters get involved with hobby rocket efforts and clubs and that the attention should be directed toward the applicable local chapter. 

Dan offered us concluding comments and a summary regarding AIAA efforts for the broader space industry.  We then took one last email from Jerry in Miami wanting to know if AIAA provided business planning assistance, mentoring or help with startups.  The answer was no, not directly, but such assistance can be found at Forums and through the local chapters.

You can find out more about AIAA at their website,  You can reach our guest through AIAA or me.  Do checkout their website for announcements and important information. 




Meet & talk with the new AIAA Executive Director

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11 May 2018 Dan Dumbacher
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