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Gust: Brad Blair; Topics: Lunar and asteroid mining, commercialization, models and essentials, policy making, new lunar return plans, economics, Mars.
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We welcomed back Brad Blair for a two segment 1 hour 21 minute discussion about space mining, ISRU, successful business models, commercial essentials, NASA, policy and much more. Please note that there was some cellphone background noise (humming) plus near the end of the show, we picked up very loud equipment noise from a neighbor of mine running something very loud under the window to my studio. I apologize for these distractions and audio problems.
Before starting our discussion, Brad commented on the passing of Dr. Edward McCullough earlier in the week. Ed was a guest on several Space Show programs and a great friend and asset to our space community. He will be missed. We have dedicated this program to the memory of Ed along with all Space Show programs for the coming week.
Brad started our discussion with Brad offering general comments about lunar, asteroid and deep space mining. He talked about company failures and suggested one of the major causes of failures and problems today has to do with the lack of customers. Brad spent a considerable amount of time on the customer issue, going back and forth with it and other topics for the first segment. He referenced the extensive report on Commercial lunar propellant architecture: A collaborative study of lunar propellant production www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352309318300099. Brad referenced parts of this 180 page report via the Colorado School of Mines and ULA. We also referred back to the Dr. George Sowers Space Show program from Jan. 7, 2019 ( https://www.thespaceshow.com/show/07-jan-2019/broadcast-3248-dr.-george-sowers).
Listeners asked Brad about lunar minding timelines, the NASA CLPS program and how the private companies were handling the matter of needing customers. The new Artemis NASA lunar program came u for discussion. Don't miss what Brad said about it plus past administration and NASA lunar return and even Mars mission projects. Brad then brought us a1961 paper by Ralph Cordiner who at the time was the Chairman of the Board of General Electric. The paper Brad referred to was titled "Competitive Private Enterprise in Space" which you can find here; https://rjacobson.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/cordiner-article-1961.pdf. We have talked about this paper before but I strongly urge you read it, especially if you have not yet read it. Listen to what Brad said about this 1961 paper and Mr. Cordiner's predictions. Other lunar and Mars missions were mentioned including the Von Braun plans from 1984 for Mars. Brad also discussed TRL's, new improvements with heat shield and propellant options which can make differences today as we are not just dependent on hardware like we once were decades ago. During this discussion, Brad talked about the lunar Gateway followed by a listener question asking him if there were commercial mining opportunities for Mars. Don't miss what he said in response to the Mars mining question.
During the second segment, Brad was asked about his concerns regarding China and their lunar plans. He prefaced his remarks by talking about his 2006 visit to China, Chinese accountability for missions and results as compared to that of NASA and his conclusions as a result of what he saw. Don't miss all of his comments regarding China and their space activities. We addressed his observations and concerns in some detail so don't miss what he said, especially with comparisons between the China and NASA. At this time, Brad introduced us to different business models and said the Silicon Valley business model was the credible one. He explained this in detail. In addition, he touted public-private partnerships with NASA and the government. He then addressed SpaceX results since its founding, the costs for acquiring water in space and the actual value of the Moon. A listener then asked him how to start doing what he was talking about. Listen to what Brad said was needed with both enabling legislation including a focus on the budget, plus technology and the regulatory environment.
As we were coming near the end of the program, Brad said more business people were needed and he encouraged people, including engineers, to spend the time to learn business, even get an MBA degree. He said we had time for this important preparation and those interested in commercial space activity should use this research and development time to get the proper business education.
Before the end of the program, Brad talked about some of the programs he was involved in that did not work and why such as Harvest Moon. He addressed public relations needs and once again mentioned the Silicon Valley Business Model. He also held out Made In Space as a great example to follow.
Brad offered us concluding comments which focused on the need for excellent business planning, reinventing complex systems, the use of public private partnerships and to be aware of the window of opportunity we have with the risk of a systems collapse. Brad told us about conferences he plans on attending this year so if you are going to be at any of the events he mentioned, be sure to meet and talk with him.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Brad Blair through me or his papers which you can find on the web.