Feedback: What did you think of this show?:
Guest: Mark Williamson; Topics: Commercial space taking hold on the Florida space coast and at the Cape. 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 Mark Williamson from the UK back to the show to discuss his two recent articles, "New Space Mecca" in the July/August edition of Aerospace America (www.aerospaceamerica.org/Documents/Aerospace_America_PDFs_2016/July-August2016/NewSpaceMecca_Feature4_AeroAmericaJul-Aug2016.pdf) and "Commerce At The Cape" in E&T Magazine (http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2016/07/kennedy-space-center.cfm). During the first segment of our 86 minute program, Mr. Williamson provided us with an overview of commercial space happenings at the Cape since the shuttle was retired and the Constellation program was cancelled. He said today much was happening at the Cape and that it was being transitioned into at least a partial commercial spaceport. Our guest took time to define spaceports from both a domestic and international perspective. He talked about the mix of commercial contractors at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and how that number has changed over the years as compared to NASA civil servants. He also said that in 2015 there were 10 government launches at the Cape and 6 commercial launches.
In response to questions, he said that the commercial sector was stepping up to the plate and starting to carry its load. He spoke highly of the entrepreneurial efforts underway. He then talked specifics with several examples citing Launch Pad 39A being worked over by SpaceX for the Falcon Heavy. He also mentioned Launch Complex 39B being remodeled as a clean pad design for various commercial rockets in a sort of plug and play way plus the SLS.
Mark addressed th non-launch part of the industry which has been picking up steam at the Cape. He referenced the development of a key industrial park known as Exploration Park, plus he talked about Blue Origin facilities being built at the Cape along with OneWeb opening up at the Cape.
Listener John in San Diego asked about the other Florida spaceports. Another listener asked about government incentives to bring space businesses to Florida. Here, our mentioned Space Florida which is the state economic authority with a purpose of building up the Florida space economy. Later, Mark talked about repurposing NASA buildings at the Cape including the VAB which Orbital ATK is using , the commercial use of the High Bay facilities, and Moon Express redoing launch complex 17 and 18 which were former Delta facilities. Listener Randy wanted to know if there would be an adverse impact on the Cape when SpaceX started flying out of Brownsville, TX. Before the segment ended, Carl in Boston wanted to know about the ISS ending timeline and the impact of not having an ISS anymore on business and activity at the Cape. Before the segment ended, our guest brought up safety issues regarding human spaceflight.
In the second segment, Mark was asked about commercial space activities in Europe, with ESA and in other space countries. Also if public-private partnerships were being used in Europe and ESA. Mark talked about commercial space growth in the UK and with ESA as well as the use of the public-private partnership.
Mark was also asked about the risk of an increasing regulatory regime and what impact that might have on commercial space activities. Don't miss what we both had to say about the political risks of increasing regulations.
Another listener asked Mark about the British general population and their interest in space and knowledge of it, especially commercial space. The also wanted to know if the idea of going to Mars was as common and as popular as it is in some markets in the States. Mark was then asked about national security space and dual use technologies, especially in terms of going to Mars. He had much to say on these issues, did not really care much for the dual use technology terms and said it was a false argument. Don't miss how he explained this to listeners.
As the program was drawing to a close, Tim from Huntsville asked about space mining and the gravity environment, especially as it might apply to the Moon. Cindy sent in a note asking if there were any competitive spaceports to Florida. Mark said no. Jim wanted to know about modernizing the federal ranges and tracking systems.
Mark offered us closing comments and take aways so be sure to listen to what he had to say as we brought our discussion to an end. Please post your comments/questions in the comments section of this archived program on TSS website. You can reach Mark Williamson through me or his articles.