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Space Tourism and Commercialization

Season 1Episode 103Aug 2, 2019

Mike Read, International Space Station Commercial Space Utilization Manager, discusses NASA's new directive that further opens up the station for commercialization and space tourism with the goal of developing a robust economy in low-Earth orbit.​ HWHAP Episode 103.

Space Tourism and Commercialization

Space Tourism and Commercialization

If you’re fascinated by the idea of humans traveling through space and curious about how that all works, you’ve come to the right place.

“Houston We Have a Podcast” is the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center from Houston, Texas, home for NASA’s astronauts and Mission Control Center. Listen to the brightest minds of America’s space agency – astronauts, engineers, scientists and program leaders – discuss exciting topics in engineering, science and technology, sharing their personal stories and expertise on every aspect of human spaceflight. Learn more about how the work being done will help send humans forward to the Moon and on to Mars in the Artemis program.

Episode 103 features International Space Station Commercial Space Utilization Manager, Mike Read, who discusses NASA’s new directive that further opens up the station for commercialization and space tourism with the goal of developing a robust economy in low-Earth orbit. This episode was recorded on June 18, 2019.

For more information on this directive check out the Low-Earth Orbit Economy webpage!

Houston, we have a podcast


Gary Jordan (Host): Houston, we have a podcast! Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 103, “Space Tourism and Commercialization.” I’m Gary Jordan and I’ll be your host today. On this podcast we bring in the experts; NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts, all to let you know the coolest information about what’s going on right here at NASA. So on June 7, 2019, NASA announced a new directive that further opens up the International Space Station for commercial use. This means a really brand new way that business is done in space. And it widens the possibilities for commercial companies to explore different markets, to manufacture goods, to test their own habitable structures, to conduct marketing and sponsorship activities, and to send more people to space through space tourism and private astronauts. This announcement was a big deal for us because it’s a significant shift from how we normally do things. But why do this at all? Well, NASA’s going full speed ahead to make a landing of the first woman and the next man on the moon a possibility. And developing a robust economy in low-Earth orbit, or basically creating a space in space, for companies to succeed, is a good way to make that happen. Developing this economy with many companies means NASA can focus its resources on Moon exploration. We’ll still need low-Earth orbit, but with this model, we can purchase services from companies in low-Earth orbit at a much lower cost than doing everything ourselves, because the ultimate goal would be to be one of many customers in a self-sustaining economy. The idea here is not to make money or reduce cost, just to enable this to happen. But really, this is all just skimming the surface; this announcement was densely packed with tons of details and nuances. So today, we’ll be talking more in depth about these efforts on the International Space Station with our guest, Mike Read. He’s the commercial space utilization manager for the International Space Station Program here in Houston. Mike is great at explaining all of this in a way that makes sense. So I was excited to bring him on. So here’s everything about space tourism, commercialization and marketing, with Mr. Mike Read, enjoy.

[ Music ]

Host: Mike, thank you for coming on the podcast today.

Mike Read: Well, thanks for inviting me to do this.

Host: I know you’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen and I know just back and forth from the time that we’ve been working together, this is, this idea of commercialization has, is not new. We’ve been, we’ve been working on it for a while, right?

Mike Read: Actually we’ve been working on it longer than I even thought.

Host: Wow!

Mike Read: So this, this goes all the way back into the days of shuttle where we launched commercial communication satellites, we flew payload specialists from Hughes, Gregory Jarvis, who passed away on 51L, was a commercial astronaut, maybe the first commercial astronaut. And then in the ’90s we flew SPACEHAB missions on shuttle, I think we flew about a dozen, at least, of those through the Mir Program as well, Shuttle-Mir. And then we’ve been doing commercial research in space for all of that time and through the 2000’s to date, we’ve had a number of commercial companies, especially since we started the National Lab back in 2011, started operating it for commercial purposes.

Host: And I think that’s important to know, this is, this is something that’s existed for a long time, the idea of commercialization. I think some of the more, some of the things we’ve been announcing recently are a little bit new, and we can go into those later, but give us kind of more of that historical perspective. What is, what is the traditional model of how we’ve been working with these commercial companies, like you’ve been saying, over the past couple decades?

Mike Read: Well, so the traditional model of research is government funded, it’s through academia, through other government agency where we issue grant announcements and we select peer reviewed science and we go do it. The commercial aspect of it is different in that it’s more towards improving products or developing products perhaps. Proctor and Gamble’s been doing research on colloids, which are the micro elements inside of a fluid to keep things from separating, keeps your ketchup from having water and tomato spots on the shelf, right? For instance. But they’ve been doing colloids for probably about 15 years with us. Merck is now doing protein crystal growth, we’ve got pharmaceuticals companies doing rodent research, so it’s really, it’s really growing to where they’re covering their costs, whereas before, it was grant funded. We still help them with the implementation partner cost because it’s expensive to adapt a research investigation from terrestrial to space, and so we, we help with that, help them to prove that there’s goodness in doing research in space. And that’s a totally different model than a traditional grant funded model.

Host: Yeah, and a lot of this, is a lot of this through the ISS National Lab?

Mike Read: It is.

Host: Okay, so where does, where does that come in? The difference I guess, for those who don’t, may not understand the difference between ISS National Lab and research like you’re talking about, and some of the stuff that NASA’s doing.

Mike Read: So, so NASA we go by what we call the Decadal surveys. And so that is, it’s done as it suggests, about every 10 years and it influences the kind of research that the community believes we ought to be tackling and funding. So we have our own fundamental and applied research interests, and that’s half of all of the research that we do. The other half falls under the National Lab, which is other government agencies doing things similar to NASA, but driven by different goals. It’s academia and then it’s most importantly the commercial sector. So companies that want to do research to help their product development would come in through the National Lab and that’s the other half of all the research.

Host: Yeah, it’s the idea that the International Space Station is a laboratory in and of itself, but the difference is that you take microgravity out of the equation and there’s a lot of things that you can figure out by doing so.

Mike Read: Yeah, sometimes it speeds things up, sometimes it slows things down. So, the colloidal separation in gravity is much quicker, it’s minutes, because of the gravitational pull, but in space, it’s days. And so when you slow down that sedimentation, you can really see the interactions between the different elements that are within those fluids for instance. Flames are totally different, there’s no convection so heat doesn’t rise in space, and so a flame is much more uniform and it’s much different studying things like that in space without the gravitational pull.

Host: Yeah. And a lot of this, like you’re saying, is for researching, is for figuring out what exactly is happening, then later down the road, the idea is to commercialize something that you have figured out through that research.

Mike Read: On the commercial side, it would be, I mean their goals are going to be whatever their business model says they should be, right?

Host: Right.

Mike Read: And so if they can, if they can find a way to build a product that doesn’t separate, meaning it doesn’t look, it doesn’t look as attractive to a potential purchaser on a store shelf, well that’s to their benefit. Or if they can figure out elements of muscle wasting or you know, bone deterioration that can lead to a treatment for that, then that would be in a pharmaceutical companies’ interest. But doing things in space just allows you to take a little bit different approach than the long traditional 10 year, 12 year drug development program on the ground.

Host: Yeah, I know definitely drug development is one of those areas that’s particularly interesting for microgravity. But the, going back to this idea that commercial activity in space is not new, in fact, it’s something that we’ve actually invested in and it’s become regular as part of operations. I know particularly is commercial cargo transportation. Now, you know, what used to be the space shuttle, taking up cargo to the International Space Station, now we have SpaceX Dragon, now we have Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus, we have commercial vehicles as part of that. Was it partly the success of that program that kind of sparked this idea of, huh, maybe commercialization in space can actually, can actually be something we should look into?

Mike Read: I think that definitely is where we’re at now. What we did with the Commercial Cargo Program when we first released an announcement in 2006 for that. I think the first actual cargo delivery was in 2012, so about a half a dozen years later. Commercial Crew was announced in 2009, it fed off of how we, what we learned and how we did commercial cargo. But I think all of those were in a, those were set in a different time when we knew shuttle was only going to fly so long. At the time, we didn’t know when the last shuttle flight was going to be. But we also knew that doing this the traditional government program way was probably not going to be affordable in the long term. So those are the first big steps was in getting NASA away from paying for the vehicle, launching the vehicle, operating the vehicle, it’s a totally different model because our commercial partners now do that and will soon do that for Crew.

Host: Yeah, that’s right. That’s the Commercial Crew, we’re talking SpaceX in Boeing developing Crew capabilities, and that’s obviously you know, NASA’s a big part of that because we want a ride to the International Space Station, but that idea of a commercial company like you’re saying, owning and operating their own vehicle, now it opens it up for more opportunities beyond just providing that service for NASA.

Mike Read: Well, and the next step of course is a commercial destination, I mean that’s what we really want to see. I mean we’re always going to have a need to be in low-Earth orbit and the space station for certain is going to be the last U.S. government driven platform in low-Earth orbit, it’s just, it’s not affordable to sustain a government program when you want to go do a deep space or a moon mission.

Host: Yeah, it’s definitely an important thing, and I definitely want to get into the nitty gritty of this, especially the recent commercial and marketing policies that have come out. But, you know, kind of going back to the general idea, this is something that’s important, right? Why is it important to allow business opportunities in low-Earth orbit?

Mike Read: Well, it’s self-serving, it’s totally self-serving for us as an agency. Because we are always going to need a LEO platform, a low-Earth orbit platform. We’re going to need to do our fundamental and applied research, we’re going to need to do crew training and proficiency because we’re not going to send a crew to the moon on their very first mission. That’s just not going to happen. And we’re always going to need to test new systems because systems and fluids, they operate differently in microgravity than they do in 1G and we have learned so much about what we didn’t know, by running systems over long periods of time on the space station. So, it’s a, it’s a commercial and business test bed, but it’s also critical to us in our exploration needs. So, given that ISS will be the last government driven program and given that we’re always going to need to have a place in LEO, if there isn’t other demand for this, we’re stuck holding the bag for the entire operating cost of whatever the next destination looks like. And that’s not tenable either, so, we are doing this in our own best interest to help companies, leveraging the assets of the space station to help them see if there’s a business model in space. Whether it be for tourism, for marketing, for cell line development, personalized medicine, in space manufacturing, we don’t know, but we’re, we want to enable them to try out those ideas and see if there’s, if there’s goodness in doing things in microgravity, if there is, then those kind of things are scalable. They’ll need a good bit of the next destination in space. And that way we become one of many customers, rather than the only customer.

Host: Yeah.

Mike Read: Which is critical to our ability to continue to afford to do exploration.

Host: Yeah, which is at the very core of the reason why this policy change is more of that enabling part. The idea is to, is to, at least make available the opportunity for an economy to grow and become something robust so that we can get to that point. Like you’re saying, one of many customers.

Mike Read: So, policy was a big change in direction for us. It’s been, as you mentioned at the outset, it’s been a lot of years coming. And frankly, it’s taken the administration, the hill, it’s taken a lot of people to nudge us in that direction, telling us it’s okay, this is what we want to see you do. And so the policy was developed over, over a number of years but it all kind of came together in the last year. So, it’s really different for us, you know, the Russians have done space flight participants, a number of those, back in the 2000’s when they were doing those, it was difficult for us because it was an interruption in our mission. It was an interruption in the day to day ops on station and frankly we weren’t enamored of it at all, to say the least. But, we did a bunch of commercial studies last fall and one of the things that they, they all pointed out, virtually all of them pointed out, was that you know, allowing private astronauts, tourists, to professional astronauts from other countries, to access space station was a big portion of revenue that could close a business model.

Host: Mm hmm, yeah so, and that was part of those studies that, and you kind of listed off a couple of them already; you talked about in space manufacturing, you talked about drug development, these are some of the areas where we said as NASA, hey commercial sector, hey private sector, if you were to make money in space, where would be your opportunities? And I guess yes, space tourism, space flight participance is a big place for the commercial sector to thrive.

Mike Read: And we came, we came full circle on this one. You know, we, not only does it help stimulate demand for a platform, but it also drives demand for the access to space, transportation. Which, the more you sell of anything, economies of scale will tell you, the cheaper it’s going to get, which benefits us as well. So, that was, that was a very important aspect of deciding to allow these standalone private astronaut missions to access the space station.

Host: Yeah, yeah, and that’s part of the economy is, up front it’s going to be, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult but eventually the idea is the more frequent it becomes, the, and the more regular it becomes, the cheaper it’ll get, which is huge for us. And I think you mentioned cost already, cost I think is probably one of the greater barriers to entry for a company to start becoming I guess, commercial, or profitable in space, right?

Mike Read: Well yeah, access to space is the long pole in a tent.

Host: Yeah.

Mike Read: The cost of doing business in space, the biggest cost is access, so one of the things we rolled out in our commercial strategic plan a couple of weeks ago, was a solicitation looking for ways to drive down that very thing. The cost of getting to space. So, we’ll see what the private sector has, you know, has in mind for how we can tackle that, how we as a government agency doing things that are inherently governmental but we can bring a special project together to maybe drive down whatever the technologies are that make this so difficult. Maybe it’s supply chain management. We don’t know, maybe it’s financial incentives to do business in space that don’t exist right now, so we have multiple government agencies working with us; FAA, commerce, and others, are all, they’re all on board in wanting to help enable us because they recognize it’s not just a NASA thing, it’s a U.S. thing.

Host: Yeah, yeah, very much so. So let’s go into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about what, let’s talk about what has been announced most recently. I think one of the top things is the policy itself, on commercial activities and what can, what now can and cannot be done regarding commercial activities and the time allocation that we’re dedicating to doing that. So what’s happening there?

Mike Read: So we’ve never allowed marketing on the ISS, other countries have done it, the Japanese have done it, the Russians have done it, ESA has done it, the European Space Agency. We’ve never participated in that and there’s been reasons for it, because we had a research mission, right? We had a systems development mission. But we also recognized that it’s important to us to enable it because there might be additional demand for space as I said earlier. So we’re going to allow some marketing activities that are revolve around things that are being done up there already. Let’s say, let’s take Procter and Gamble. They’ve been doing colloidal research on space station for years. If they wanted to do a marketing campaign using some of our cameras on space station and showing their hardware, talking about it, our crew can’t be in that, we don’t, we can’t be seen to endorse things, but we can be operating the camera, and we can downlink the data to them, and that’s not a problem, because that’s tied to something that they’re doing on space station. When private astronauts are up there, they’ll be able to go one step further, which is do things such as marketing, of products that don’t have anything to do with things going on on space station. So if McDonald’s wanted to do an advertisement filmed in space, those private astronauts could do that. Our crews cannot, but they could. And so that’s, it’s a huge shift that we’re, we’ve come out and said now, not only are we not going to fight this, but we’re actually going to announce that we’re going to enable it. Which I think is pretty cool.

Host: Enable it and dedicate time to it. I think that’s a big, that’s a big part of this whole thing is you said, you know, why couldn’t we do some of these activities before is because we had a research mission and if you wanted to do something else besides that research, that’s time, that’s time that you’re taking away from research. Now we’re actually using a part of NASA’s time, to actually do that, to pick, to have an astronaut pick up a camera and film something or to do something like that.

Mike Read: We have, we still have a research mission, we always will.

Host: Sure.

Mike Read: Crew time has been and likely will be again, one of our limiting resources, but we felt it was equally important to help stimulate a nascent demand for LEO that we’ve never tried before. So we’ve set aside about 90 hours a year for these commercial marketing activities. And we’ve set aside some kilograms of upmast too, to support whatever their needs might be as well, small, it’s about 5% of what we have available to us, so it doesn’t impact our research, the crews do a marvelous job of getting more time in than what we actually schedule for them. They work, they work Saturdays quite often, they work long days so, it really, it will not impact our research mission but it’s equally important to see if this can develop.

Host: Mm hmm. So at least we’re, you know, we’re dedicating that time and I think that’s the majority of the commercial and marketing activities is saying that this is something that we’re going to allow and it’s a big, I guess, caveat what you said between what a NASA astronaut can do, it has to be related to space and it, you can’t have the astronaut in front of the camera–

Mike Read: Correct.

Host: Personally endorsing anything. A little bit more freedom when it comes to private astronauts, which, like you said, space tourism, space flight participants, this is a big, this is a big commercial opportunity. So what’s happening there in the world of private astronauts? How’s it all going to work with I guess the difference between, that’s a big question I know that we’re getting in our office is, you know, how does this work? What do you have to do to become a private astronaut? Do you have to train? Which companies do you go for? What do you ride on? You know, how’s this all working?

Mike Read: The beautiful part about it is it’s all business to business.

Host: Yeah.

Mike Read: We have to enable them on our side, there’s a lot of things that we have to do but we’ve pointed them to the two crew providers, crew vehicle providers that we have already, or will have already flight certified, once they fly, and that’s Boeing and SpaceX. If another one develops, and we certify it, then well okay we got three of them now. But they have to go to a U.S. provider, we’ll get away from our citizens paying for a ride on a Russian Soyuz vehicle, which doesn’t do our economy any good. We will have to work them into the flight plan, so it’s probably, and for training purposes, it just entirely depends on what they want to do. If they’re, if they’re a country that doesn’t have a presence on the ISS now, that want’s a space program, they could have, select one of their astronauts. They’d become what we would call a sovereign astronaut. They could train professionally, just like our crew does, to be able to do research and other things on board. They wouldn’t need to know how to operate the systems because that’s what our crew and the Russians crew, and our partner crew do. But, and that could be easily a 2 year program, to train. And it’s probably that long for us to get it in planned in the flight sequence anyway to accommodate them. We think we can accommodate maybe two of these a year, less than 30 days, any longer than that you start getting into some medical requirements and exercise requirements and things that are going to be hard for us to accommodate because our crews have subscribed that. But if you want to go up there and be a space flight participant, what we call space tourist, it could be a lot less time than that. We teach you how to use the comm system, the internet, satellite phone if you’re going to use that, how to use the galley, and the waste and hygiene compartment, and what not to teach here, here, and here, right? So that’s a lot less time than what it would be if you’re going to go up there and you’re going to operate as one of our crew would operate.

Host: Yeah. Yeah, I mean the idea is no matter what, there’s going to be some training involved.

Mike Read: Absolutely.

Host: At the very bare minimum you have to know how to work stuff and then an event of emergency, you have to know how to properly get out of there.

Mike Read: Exactly. You know, training using our emergency equipment will be another thing that they would do, maybe a bit of the medical, but it’d be minimal.

Host: Yeah. But the idea is that now we’re at least opening up the International Space Station, allowing the commercial and marketing activities enabling the space tourism and private astronauts, more professional astronauts depending on the training, but this whole idea of destinations and I think this is a very exciting one, like you said, you know, this International Space Station is not going to be there forever, let’s develop this space, this LEO, low-Earth orbit, where there can be commercial destinations flying and the idea is we are enabling the ability to test those things. So what’s the, what’s a destination? I think that’s a, that’s something that we kind of throw out there but it might not be kind of something that people really grasp onto.

Mike Read: A destination could be a commercial module, a commercial element on space station, which I’ll come back to in a minute, it could also be a free flying platform, it might be in proximity to the space station so that it could take advantage of the cargo vehicles that are already going to space station, maybe they visit space station and then they visit the Free Flyer commercial, commercial Free Flyer, and then you know, come back and return or it could look like several of those, I mean we’re going to always have a need for space and so we want that platform, whether it’s tested on ISS and then separates or whether it goes direct to Free — Flee Flyer, it’s easy for me to say [laughter] — whether it goes direct to Free Flyer, it doesn’t really matter as long as it is capable of functioning and providing the research accommodations that we need. So that’s the long-term goal. Part of that, part of the strategic plan roll out the other week was to enable both of those things. And those solicitations should be hitting the street this week to announce that we’re soliciting proposals to put a commercial module on the Node 2 forward port of the ISS, to extend that it would operate as an element of ISS but it would have different rules of the road if you will on things that they can do inside, especially with private crew, such as those pure marketing activities that we were talking about. Which that’s probably going to be the easiest thing to enable because it doesn’t really require any other equipment other than whatever props they’re going to use in the spot, right? Our video equipment, our cameras and all that, are onboard and they can be used for that, so either one of those are important and like I said, those will eventually provide the services that we require.

Host: Mm hmm. So the idea is, we don’t know exactly what that destination, what that commercial module could look like, so let us know what you think would be a commercially viable thing. That’s the, what we’re kind of requesting there.

Mike Read: And that’s pretty much the case. Well, we’ve, part of the roll out the other week was we quantified what our long-term needs were going to be in low-Earth orbit, and companies can look at that and say okay, what of those things does it make sense for me to try to provide so that I can get the government as a customer. Because they, the studies we did they, not all of them but most of them, need the government as a primary customer in some way, shape, or form. The ones that have business models that look like they could work, have us as maybe, maybe a large customer but not the majority customer. Other ones that need us as 80-90% customer is probably not, probably not very attractive to us. Same reason that you don’t want to be the only big box store at the mall and have everything be empty because you’re going to pay the whole cost of operating the mall. We don’t want to do that. And that’s just not, that’s not a good recipe for a robust economy in low-Earth orbit.

Host: So who can participate in this? I know this is another big question that we’ve been, we’ve been getting a lot, is I believe it’s, this is a U.S. company endeavor so when we’re talking about all these different commercial companies that can do this, that, and the other thing, this is a U.S. company thing.

Mike Read: Absolutely is. I mean the American tax payers have put billions of dollars into developing and operating and doing research on space station. The creation of the National Lab was to start providing some return to the U.S. economy in the form of commercial research on space station. That was important. But for the long haul, we’re going to enable the, using the resources that we have rights to, we, NASA have rights to on station, we’re going to enable a broader participation by the U.S. economy, U.S. commercial sector, in developing these elements and doing scalable research on ISS and in developing the Free Flying platforms.

Host: Yeah. But that’s not to say that, you know, the customers don’t necessarily have to be U.S., it’s the businesses themselves. So like you’re saying for the example of private astronauts, if a company, if a different country wants to have their, a representative of their country as the first astronaut from whatever country it may be, they will just have to go through these U.S. companies to make that happen.

Mike Read: That’s absolutely true. We’ve got commercial companies that own and operate their own hardware on space station right now, that bring in users, researchers from all around the world. NanoRacks, located right here in Houston, they did a, they’ve done investigations for I don’t know how many countries but they had a Beijing Institute of Technology investigation last year. They had Vietnam, schools in Vietnam have done research on there. They’ve deployed CubeSats for other countries, so it’s happening right now. It’s just were scaling it up in size.

Host: Yeah, so let’s look a little bit towards the, towards the future because I think that will kind of lay out what the ultimate goal is, you know, we talk about developing this robust economic in low-Earth orbit, let’s just say, let’s just say timeline X and let’s go to the very end of that, we have completed all of our mission, what does low-Earth orbit look like in this scenario?

Mike Read: In the best case, there’s multiple destinations operated commercially that each can satisfy some of NASA’s needs for systems development, crew training, and research, two or more, let’s put it that way. It’s going to be an expensive environment to sustain a business model in, but if it’s a, it’s a multifaceted business model, it’s probably got the most likelihood of success and for sustainability.

Host: Mm hmm. So that’s the idea, is the destinations are commercially operated, NASA is, doesn’t have a thing in space but we are purchasing services that already exist, or purchasing transportation, or purchasing capabilities onboard the destination. And the idea I think is because we’re focusing a little bit further out.

Mike Read: That’s exactly right, you know, we want to go back to the Moon. We’ve been given a charge to do that by 2024, which is going to be very aggressive but, it’s going to be very exciting. We have got to be able to utilize space station so companies can learn to do business and then they can sell services to us. That’s the end goal, we have to be able to do that. When, back in the 1870’s we built the transcontinental railroad. The government had a need for something but didn’t have the funds to do it. So private companies, consortium, built that from east to west, west to east, and they met in the middle. We backed it with bonds, promises to pay, right? And we gave away resources. We gave away land for every mile of track. We’re doing the same thing with space station in low-Earth orbit. We have a need to see destinations appear in space, as I said, for our own self-interest, and long-term needs, and we’re giving away resources. We’re giving away the upmast and the crew time, and the power and data, and the on orbit volume and all of that, because it makes sense to do it.

Host: Yeah. The transcontinental railroad of low-Earth orbit. I think, one of the other I think good benefits of doing this, especially in low-Earth orbit, especially with the International Space Station, is it’s, I think it’s a good representation, it’s a good model for what we can do again on the Moon. International Space Station, we’ve been working with international partners, were working with commercial companies, it’s not new. We’re doing it, and we’re getting pretty good at it I think. So I think using low-Earth orbit as a test, which has been the purpose of low-Earth orbit really, is to test different capabilities and systems. You can take a lot of those same concepts and apply that to the Moon. The administrator has already talked about working with commercial companies to actually make this Moon landing and this Artemis program a success. It’s something that’s needed.

Mike Read: Yeah, well the administrator has multiple degrees in business and finance so it’s not, it’s not a surprise that he is onboard with this commercialization, this commercialization effort.

Host: Well Mike, I think that’s a very good snapshot really, and just in depth description of all of this low-Earth orbit commercialization efforts. It’s a very exciting time, and a unique model for the way that we’re actually doing human space exploration. So I really appreciate your time.

Mike Read: You bet! This will be interesting to see how this all plays out going forward.

[ Music ]

Host: Hey, thanks for sticking around. I hope you really enjoyed this discussion with Mike Read. He did a great job, I think, of explaining everything about that went into not just this announcement, but a little bit of history of all the commercial activity that’s been happening in space over these past couple decades. But if you really want to know more about this announcement specifically, and everything that has to do with it, there is a lot of information and we made it all available online. It’s on, if you go to that site, you can really dig into all the different elements of what’s gone on, I guess because of this announcement and then all of the opportunities that are available for you to do onboard the International Space Station. Otherwise, if you’re curious on what is the International Space Station, I hope you check out some of our other podcasts that really go into depth there, but otherwise, you can just go to Check out our International Space Station and NASA Johnson Space Center pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, use the #askNASA on your favorite platform. To submit an idea for the show, make sure to mention it is for Houston, we have a podcast. This episode was recorded on June 18, 2019. Thanks to Alex Perryman, Norah Moran, and Pat Ryan. Thanks again to Mr. Mike Read for coming on the show. We’ll be back next week.