Dr. Matthew Weinzierl & Brendan Rosseau

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Guests: Dr. Matt Weinzierl, Brendan Rosseau; Topics:  Harvard's MBA commercial space courses, students and commercial space, investment market, timelines, billionaires, tourism, settlement, a possible commercial space bubble and much more.

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The Space Show welcomed back Dr. Matt Weinzierl and we welcomed for the first time Brendan Rosseau to inform us about the new Harvard MBA Commercial Space program through a series of elective courses described by our guests. Lots of email questions were forthcoming about the classes, the program, the student mix plus the perspectives of the students on key and current issues relating to space tourism and commercial space.  For example, listeners wanted to know if the initial course covered the billionaire argument that arose when space tourism broke ground with commercial flights.  Our guests did cover the subject so do pay attention because we talked about student perspectives, attitudes, and the basis behind those attitudes.  Remember, many of these students will graduate and end up in the commercial space industry with the possibility of leadership positions within the industry or involved in the policy making for the industry.  It is worthwhile to understand how they see things and why. In responding to one of the many listener questions about student space attitudes and perspectives, our guests told us about Dylan Taylor speaking before the class about his ride to space plus his space business and investment expertise.  Listen to how our guests described the student mix.  Of the 50 or so students in the class, some were from within the industry or very well informed, some were agnostic, others had little or no knowledge about space let alone commercial space.  Climate change was an influencing factor in how they viewed commercial space and space tourism as some had a type of Star Trek the United Space Federation view of things meaning that private spaceflight, making money and the like seemed out of place.  As this discussion went on, I chimed in with one of my mild rants pointing out that there was a huge double standard with billionaires and people of means re commercial space as compared to terrestrial investment and development activities of the same people. For example, building hotels, developing a new SST business jet, building an office building, things of that nature do not incur the wrath (for the most part) of authors writing for major publications but a wealthy person paying for a space ride or developing a private space company or something similar, well, all hell breaks out against the latter.  Hence the double standard.  I asked our guests if they could explain this to TSS audience.  Low and behold, Matt suggested two theories for the double standard but you will have to listen to the program to hear his response.  After Matt provided us with his two theories, Brendan put forth is idea.  Again, you need to listen to the program to hear what Matt and Brendan had to say.  This would be the perfect place for you to provide us with your ideas relating to the double standard (or anything else) so post to your hearts content on our blog for this show.

With a question from Beth in Seattle about the war in Ukraine and the impact on commercial space, we changed directions in our discussion.  Our guests talked about communication sats proving their worth and value in the Ukraine fighting.  They addressed the issue of getting vital data real time from nongovernment sources and the importance of that fact.  However, government was still a key commercial space customer.  In addition our guests made the point of saying that having a decentralized sector allowed for new opportunities for innovation that were very important. When our guests were asked about humans in space and their potential role, that was not so clear for the future given the advantages and advances in AI and robotics along with the comparative costs of robotics and humans in space. 

An interesting question from Sheila in Houston inquired about Avi Loeb and other famous people from various Harvard science disciplines proposing ET life theories, lunar settlements with solar power towers and more.  She wanted to know if the commercial space students had an awareness of these Harvard professors and their sometimes more far out projects like Loeb and the Galileo Project for finding ET life.  Don't miss how our guests responded to her question.  You might find some surprises in what our guests had to say. 

As we were nearing the end of the program, I inquired if there was a text book used for the courses.  The answer was no but Matt talked about a website where wound could find much of what was discussed in the course and on the show.  Visit www.economicsofspace.com.  As we progressed to the end of the discussion, Ralph from Denver sent in a note asking about the role of government regulation for the commercial space industry, wondering if our guests viewed it as a political risk.  I then asked our guests what they thought of my idea that we should probably move away from a specific name like commercial space or Newspace in favor of referring to the sector in more normal economic and business terms rather than trying to make it special as maybe the special might be detrimental to the future of the industry.  Once again, listen to what our guests had to say about my comment.  We got a note from a French listener wanting us to suggest European commercial space resources for him to call upon.  This opened the door for Matt and Brendan to talk commercial space in Europe and in other parts of the world.  The question came from listener Paul who was looking for a plausible timeline for space settlement and large scale on orbit manufacturing of say a structure like an O'Neill free space colony.  Listen to the response.  Tell us what you think about a plausible timeline for those events by posting on our blog.

Please post your comments/questions for our guests on our blog for this show.  You can reach Matt and/or Brendan through their Harvard website pages or me here at The Space Show.  You can also send them a blog message as I always make sure the guests see relevant blog posts. 




Harvard starts teaching commercial space courses

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27 May 2022 Dr. Matthew Weinzierl, Brendan Rosseau
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