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Guest: George Lordos; Topics: Mars innovative design and tech development, space economics, commercial space stations and much 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, www.thespaceshow.com. 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 www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed George Lordos back to the program for a two segment 89 minute wide ranging discussion regarding multiple space projects, technology, design, and commercial space station topics focused on Mars, lower cost launch vehicles and more. We started our discussion talking about the MIT HYDRA Team led by George having just won the Best Technical Paper award regarding the Mars Ice Challenge (they shared the award with a Virginia Tech project). George explained the HYDRA project to us plus the program at NASA Langley known as RASC-AL Special Edition Mars Ice Challenge ( http://specialedition.rascal.nianet.org). We spent a good part of the first segment talking about this project, the need for living off the land and ISRU, and the drilling process for the ice sheets under the surface of Mars. Don't miss the description of the drilling process which as I noted, had some similarities to oil and gas drilling. When I mentioned that, he told us about the background of some of his team members and how they met. No wonder I picked up on oil and gas drilling similarities.
Later in the first segment, we started talking about commercial space stations and the MIT award winning project from last year, MARINA. We also talked about the effort to commercialize the ISS which George did not think would happen. Listen to his explanation. He spoke about their commercial station plan which included births for commercial users plus the services that would be provided to the users. He mentioned that at some point in the future, the commercial space station would entail customers providing other customers commercial services. Listener Sandra from Reno picked up on this and asked questions about the idea of customers serving customers on a commercial space station. This was a very interesting concept so don't miss what our guest had to say about it and the commercial potential for such a capability.
I asked George where we were on the technology time and capability line for having commercial space stations and where we were on the tech level for the cultural part needed for commercial stations and customers serving customers. George had much to say about these two important components of commercial space station development so for sure don't miss what he had to say in response to my inquiry.
Listener James sent him a note regarding reusability and the Falcon 9 given the comments George was making about the need for much lower launch prices to close a business case for a commercial space station. George provided us with his MIT team's analysis results using Monte Carlo Simulation, market pricing, NPV, etc. He said that launch costs would have to come down by 5% per year through 2025! We worked this out regarding current Falcon 9 pricing so don't miss this discussion. George said that on the positive side there would be competition coming in from Blue Origin and maybe others so he thought there would be pressure applied for lowering launch prices. Once again, don't miss his analysis. What do you think? Let us know by posting on the blog.
In the second segment, George was asked about the idea of multiple small LEO commercial space stations and was this a viable concept and market. He said it was possible if the commercial station could provide a higher profitability than the per kilo value of getting to the station plus operating costs. He wondered who might be first to take the plunge to start such a business given we still have technical and other challenges ahead and for now probably cannot close a business case for such private space stations.
Other topics in this segment included space tourism, space settlement specifically for Mars, and what it would take to actually design a Martian city such as their Redwood Forest design we talked about earlier this year on a Hotel Mars program. I also asked him what he thought of planetary protection rules, again specifically for Mars. Listen to his comments on this subject but hint to his thinking was his saying that humans were a "bag of microbes."
Sherry asked George what parts of the space industry would he suggest for students considering a space career. George suggested commercial space, ISRU and space transportation. Alan asked if there was a contributing segment to commercial space from outside the U.S. George said yes but listen to all of what he said regarding the international component for commercial and NewSpace. Marshall tried calling but had phone line problems so he sent us his email regarding the value of government programs, citing three such programs as examples. George had much to say on this subject so don't miss it. I also talked about my paper from years ago regarding the value of different types of government programs. Larry got in one of the last questions asking if NewSpace would ever become its own sector in the US economy. Beverly then fired off an 11th hour question asking if Musk was a driver for innovation and Mars development. George said yes but he expanded that to include others. Listen to how and why he expanded it. George offered us closing comments and takeaways focusing on commercial space policy and NewSpace business models for long term economic grown.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach George Lordos through MIT and The Space Show.