Broadcast 3121 Eric Berger

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Eric Berger;  Topics:  Many topics were discussed including the significance of the F9 Block 5, LOP-G, competing with SpaceX, SLS, commercializing ISS, commercial lunar missions and 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 Eric Berger of Ars Technica back to the show for this one segment 69 minute wide ranging discussion covering many timely commercial and human spaceflight topics and events.  Eric started the discussion by explaining to us just why the SpaceX F9 Block 5 was and is a big deal.  We spent several minutes discussing this so I urge you to listen to the analysis provided by our guest.  Also note the timeline for confirming obtaining the SpaceX reusable and lower cost objectives for the Block 5 F9 which will also spill over to their newer rockets.  This was an important part of our program discussion so please don't miss it.

Eric also talked about SpaceX competition.  He mentioned what Russian Dimitry Rogozin has recently said about competing with SpaceX as well as an Arianne official.  This brought in a question from a listener asking Eric for the facts regarding federal government subsidies for SpaceX over the years.  As with before, don't miss what Eric said about the challenges in competing with SpaceX on price and performance plus being subsidized by the US government. Related topics to this discussion, including listener emails, focused on the second mobile launch tower at the Cape for $500 million, SLS, Bridenstine & Sen. Shelby on SLS, Boeing, and the possibility of commercializing the ISS.  Make sure you hear what Eric had to say on these topics.

Marshall called to inquire about the RS-25 engine and the new version after the existing inventory of 16 RS-25 engines are used up on four additional flights.  Aerojet Rocketdyne has the contract for the new RS-25 rocket motors.  After Marshal's call, I asked Eric for his thoughts on the private space stations being developed.  Our guest had information for us regarding the Bigelow plans and then later when I asked him about Axiom, he talked about their plans and their excellent ability to obtain high level financing.

Listener Beth emailed Eric for his thoughts on using the BFR for point to point transportation.  Eric said he was skeptical but listen to all of what he said on this topic.  Next, I asked Eric about LOP-G.  First, he said the name change sucked and he talked about that for a few minutes.  He made good points on this.  As for the LOP-G project, he was not in the supportive camp and tended to agree with Zubrin perspective that LOP-G was in a cul-de-sac and not supportive for going to the lunar surface.  Eric offered up much more so don't miss this mini-conversation.  Where do you stand on LOP-G?  Let us know by posting your thoughts about it on the blog.  As for humans to the Moon, Eric had much to say on this topic.  Dr. Doug called to provide us yet again with his thoughts on the topic but since Eric was sharing his Gerstenmaier story regarding humans returning to the Moon, Doug told us his Gerstenmaier story on the same topic.  Both Eric and Doug were mostly in agreement with one another.  Eric said the window to cancel LOP-G was closing and that it would be hard to get rid of it at this time. 

Listener Jerry in Florida sent in a note as a follow up to an earlier question about the SpaceX BFS.  Jerry was suggesting the BFS would make a much better lunar orbiting platform than LOP-G and he explained why.  As you will hear, Eric said that nobody inside the beltway in D.C. thought that the BFS was real.  Eric talked about the perspective on the large SpaceX rocket and used the term vaporware to describe what the "insiders" thought of all of the BFR, BSR and such rhetoric.  Eric then commented that SLS was also vaporware.  Judy then sent in an email asking about the likelihood of the commercial companies going to the Moon.  Eric was skeptical and suggested that lunar missions will initially be NASA led.  He had much to say as to why he thought for now the private lunar efforts would not be successful or sustainable.  We then heard from Doug who took issue with Eric's use of the term vaporware for the SpaceX rocketry and even the SLS.  Don't miss Eric's response.

Before the program ended, Eric told us about a new Ars Technica free subscription newsletter rocket report.  You can sign up from their website.  It sounds like a winner of a newsletter.  Jerry got in a final email question asking about the J2X engine.  Don't miss Eric's closing comments.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Eric through his website at Ars Technical and through me.




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22 May 2018 Eric Berger
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