Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Garvey, Tuesday, 9-28-10

John Garvey, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation,Tuesday, 9-28-10

Guest:  John Garvey.  Topics:  Garvey Spacecraft Co. updates, students, nanosats, cubesats, building & launching rockets.  We welcomed John Garvey, CEO of Garvey Spacecraft Corporation back to the program.  Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog,  In our first segment, John reviewed the activities of Garvey Spacecraft since his last visit with us in 20007.  The company is now focusing on a nanosat capability.  John described their goal in detail and explained the evolution of the company and his activities toward this new goal.  We talked about the NASA FASTSAT program which John said needed to be supported as it represents an important path to the future.  A listener asked him what type of launch costs he was focusing on and John talked about the difference between a launch price and the launch costs.  We talked about costing a project out using students as a major source of labor.  John had much to say about this so don't miss this discussion.  Even in a student program, students do not always carry out all the labor and functions required to build and operate the rocket.  Next, we focused on the use of federal ranges.  As most of the Garvey Spacecraft customers are government and DOD, the use of a federal range is specified.  He said it is a big mountain to climb to be able to use one but that its just part of doing business to go through all paperwork, regulatory and related requirements.  I asked him about using commercial launch facilities such as Spaceport America and he said he mostly is launching orbital so that leaves out inland spaceports.  Also, were he to be doing suborbital, he said it would likely be as a test for an eventual orbital mission so he would want to start the regulatory requirement process for that orbital launch early on so using the federal range from the outset makes sense to him.  He had many interesting observations and facts to share with us on this issue so don't miss this segment.  As we began our second segment, we talked about commercial versus government.  John said he does not see a commercial market at this time given the government is the primary or only customer.  We spent a good portion of this segment discussing the issue of potential commercial markets and again, this is a discussion you will want to hear as he shares with us his experience on the ELV team and the fact that ELVs were largely sold as a commercial program which never materialized.  We concluded this segment by examining the market potential for nansoats and cubesats. In our third and final segment, I asked John what he would do differently going forward from what he has done in the past.  This led us to a discussion of doing things incrementally and slow as compared to one big aggressive shot at the end result.  We talked about this in terms of investors and due diligence.  John said it may depend on what the goal is, raising money for example may define the program as a success.  I suggested success was implementing the program and seeing it become a revenue producer.  Again, a reason for would be investors to exercise extreme due diligence with space related investment opportunities.  Another listener asked him to identify the problems and challenges that he dealt with in his aerospike engine.  This then led us to a discussion of various rocket fuels and his ease in using and transporting them.  Toward the end of the program, I asked John about cost accounting and the DCAA requirements. John shocked us by saying he now spends 80-90% of his time on accounting and DCAA issues.  I asked him to elaborate on this and boy did he ever give us a glimpse of this cumbersome and burdensome process! Do not miss this discussion.  If you have a question or comment for John Garvey, you can post it on the blog URL above. John can be reached by email at  His website is

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr Garvey,

    You were mentioning synthetic aperture systems made out of arrays of microsats in orbit. I wonder if you could use something like that for a super telescope? I remember seeing a proposal from NASA about 20 years ago, where they would land fleets of 1 meter telescopes on the moon scattered across a area maybe a 100 miles across. With these mini-sats precisely measuring their location from each other; the computers back on Earth could create a synthetic virtual lens 100 miles across, with enough resolution to study weather on Earth type planets around fairly close stars. Assuming this proposal wasn’t BS 20 years ago. Could modern electronics and mini cameras now allow something like that with a swarm orbiting the Earth – I.E. a virtual lens 8000 miles across?