Space Marketing Podcast with Kirby Runyon and Ken Bowdon

Space Marketing Podcast with Kirby Runyon and Ken Bowdon

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Welcome to the Space Marketing Podcast, where we look at marketing principles, strategies and tactics through the lens of space information relating to our discussion today and links to the video version can be found on the episode show notes. You can also find them on In order to travel among the stars, we will need to find our supplies on planets and asteroids. Or, as we know it, in situ.

Both of my guests are planetary geologists as well as space tourists. I connected through them through the Space Tourism Conference. Dr. Kirby Runyon loves experimental space

exploration and works as a NASA funded planetary geologist. He is also a space tour guide and inspirational speaker. He coaches fliers in the weightlessness with the zero-G Corporation and takes commercial future astronauts through educational geology hikes, explaining the science behind the view that they'll have from space in 2022. He started his own company, Planet X Planetary Experience Consulting.

My second guess is a fellow geologist, Ken Bowdon with Bowdon Energy Corporation. He is also dedicated to the experience of space tourism in his a future Virgin Galactic astronaut. Welcome to the podcast. Glad to be here. Thanks for having us.

Wow. Planetary geologist. That's not something you hear about every day. And for me, I love the whole science aspect. It sounds so very interesting. Your your focus is space exploration. Can you tell us what it is that you do? Sure.

So for half of my job on the NASA funded planetary geologist, so I use images from NASA's spacecraft, from around the solar system, from the moon to Mars to Pluto, which is a planet and lots of other moons and asteroids and planets in the solar system. So look at these gorgeous alien landscapes and understand the geologic forces that over the last four and a half billion years have sculpted these stunningly beautiful landscapes we see today. Geology is a forensic science. It's a natural forensic science. Something happened in the past, and it left clues as to what happened. And it's the job of geologists, whether you're an earth geologist or a planetary geologist, to take those clues and reconstruct the natural history.

That is the most awesome way to put that. I never heard of that. And by the way, I am a Pluto as a planet person to more power. More power to small planets. Go, Pluto. Go Pluto. Yeah.

So, Ken, can you tell us what it is that you do? Well, I'm actually an exploration oil and gas geologist. Oh, okay. Yeah. But I've had a love for space and geology for a long time.

My dad was a rock hound, so I grew up very early licking rocks, going out and finding rocks and looking to see what they would look like polished. So I go out there, I have six tons of rock underneath my house. So I'm a I've that I inherited from my father. So but I've always had an interest in space.

In fact, my father bought our first black and white TV in the early sixties to watch the Gemini flights. And that's why he bought the TV was so that we could watch the space flights. And I was eighth grade when when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And I have been a space nut ever since. And, you know, so I and luckily I've you know, I attempted to try to I wanted to be an astronaut. And I'm too tall and thin to be an astronaut back in the seventies.

And and but I've been fortunate and was able to afford to purchase a ticket from Virgin Galactic back in 2012. So I've been waiting for this experience for quite some time. Yes. You don't have to necessarily fit the criteria anymore to to be an astronaut, which is is amazing.

Is amazing. The democratization of space. More people can experience it than ever before.

And you know what? That will be healthy for our space exploration. It will definitely show will. So, Kirby, tell me, how did you end up I mean, when you just told us how you ended up in it, but how did you end up in this career? This isn't just something, people just jump into as a rule. Sure. Yeah. You know, I've been a lifelong space enthusiast, at least since I was three years old. My parents can attest to this.

And I pursued that passion toward getting a Ph.D. in planetary geology, working as a research scientist in planetary geology. But I'm not just technically minded. I'm also very people oriented, a very experiential, very viscerally oriented. And to me, space exploration isn't just a mental a cognitive pursuit.

It's not just something you do with your brain. It's something you can actually experience with your body. You know, I've I've applied twice to be an astronaut unsuccessfully.

Experiencing weightlessness. What's it like to float around and experience? What's this lack of gravity all about that's in space that that's, well, not technically a lack of gravity, but a lack of experiencing gravity. What does that feel like? What's the view got to be like? And so in 2022, I started my company, Planex Planetary Experience Consulting LLC as a way to bring the experience of space to as many people as possible through as many ways as possible, and putting very tangible things in early 2022, I was with Ken and four of his fellow Virgin Galactic future astronauts, people who have bought tickets to fly in space with Virgin Galactic.

And we went to two geologic sites in New Mexico that they're going to see from space. And the idea was that they'd be able to see these windblown sand dunes, they'd be able to see these volcanic flows. The New Mexico actually has a lot of extinct volcanoes that they'd be able to see these geologic landforms up close, like literally see like quarter inch sized pieces of rock in the rock outcrop. And then in the future, they're going to see the exact same thing.

But from space, from a completely different perspective. And as Ken and I were kind of talking before we started recording, we want to enhance the overview effect of what all spaceflyers are going to be able to see if if they really understand, including the geologic, the natural history of that beautiful landscape, they're flying over their overview effect, it's going to be that much more pronounced. Let's unpack what you mean by the overview effect just for our listeners. So, so overview effect. I mean, author Frank White coined this term and it's this shift in cognitive perception that astronauts have reported experiencing as they view Earth from so high above it.

And they don't see national boundaries. They see Earth and all of its natural beauty. They see this black sky that's blacker than black, and they see this incredibly colorful, thin, blue atmosphere and the incredible very texture of earth. I'm using their words. I've never seen it myself yet. I hope to one day.

But it's this it's the shift in perception of reality, really, of seeing Earth and humanity as this interconnected, almost superorganism and people report coming back from space. It's just feeling changed for for life. Absolutely. Yes, Ken. Go ahead. Sure. Yeah.

So, you know, I've I've taken two zero-G flights because I wanted to be able to experience weightlessness. Obviously, part of the reason going to space is to do that. But you can experience that on earth. Okay.

So when I'm up there, I will be glued to the window, because as a geologist, I am so interested on the morphologies of of the geological formations I've been able to understand the positioning of where we are within the and how much of that visibility we should be able to see a thousand miles around where, where our position is if it's a clear day. And so I think that to me is I want it to experience that overview effect. I want to experience that visualization of of this earth that I've studied for 40 some odd years and be able to explain to people what really that feeling is. I'm looking for that feeling, not the fun. Okay.

I'm not looking at that as an adventure. I'm looking at this is this has been a passion of mine for, you know, for 50 years. So a plus. And so that's that's the experience. I'm looking for.

An extension of your studies. Yes. Yes. So seeing it from a different viewpoint. Absolutely. And and also just understanding that relationship of the earth and space in the atmosphere, it's you know, it's really important. It's so vital.

And the more people we can get up there, the the more of a chance we have of of saving our beautiful blue marble. Right. So I think of growing up in a large house, but never being outside of your house and seeing what your house looks like from the outside.

And I imagine you and your whole family living in this big house. I've never seen your house from the outside. You have a good sense of what it looks like. But then finally getting a chance to go outside your house and seeing what it looks like that's analogous to what it's going to be like for so many people to go to space and to see our home planet.

This ball of geology in space from the outside. Absolutely. So we are both speaking at the Space Tourism Conference, which is how we met.

And your session is monitored. Monetization of diamonds and dust and space manufacturing in mining. Do you want to touch a little bit on that industry that is emerging? I mean, is fascinating. Sure. Yeah. So one of the ways that we can make space exploration sustainable and another way that we can protect Earth's ecosystem to channel a little bit of Jeff Bezos here is to move heavy industry and especially mining and manufacturing off Earth, on the moon and on asteroids. There's nothing to kill. There's no living organisms on the moon or asteroids that we didn't bring there.

There's no ecosystem to disrupt. And so we can mine all the rocket fuel, we can mine all of the metals and some AI conductors and rare earth elements that we need from the moon and asteroids to have a truly sustainable space economy. If you already had the mining and manufacturing and launch infrastructure set up on the moon, it would actually be more economical to mine the raw materials, build a satellite, launch it into low earth orbit to send it 99.9% of the way from the moon back to earth to then be a weather satellite or a communications satellite, then it would be doing the same thing on Earth and launching it just a few hundred miles up, because we can take advantage of the moon's very low gravity and the moon's wealth of resources. There

you can you can literally get all the rocket propellant you need, both the oxygen and say powdered aluminum, which is one of the types of rocket propellant from any old handful of dirt on the moon. You can melt it. You can run an electric current through it. A lot of people have done the middle school experiment where you run electricity through water and you break it up and to hydrogen and oxygen.

Well, you can do the same thing with artificial lava. We can melt the rocks and the dirt called regolith on the moon. You can run an electric current through it and you can extract the metals, the oxygen. The semiconductors are the rare earth elements that way through electro chemistry. A lot of the resources that we mined in space will be used in space. It's it's not totally economical to bring those materials back to Earth.

Yet, because of the huge amount of rocket propellant you need to land things on Earth or to launch things from Earth. So a lot of what we're going to be using in mining and manufacturing in space is going to be used in space, and that's less material that we have to mine manufacture and launch from Earth. If we do end up using space materials on Earth, it will be to reduce the amount of, say, acid, mine drainage from coal mining or to reduce other harmful impacts on the environment.

Because we can do those things on other worlds on the moon and asteroids again, where there's no indigenous ecosystem to disrupt. And I really would like to stress a lot of people, you know, when they hear mining, it does not bring up a lot of positive feelings for the majority of the world. But in the mining that you're going to be doing, you're going to be extracting water from from basically dust and you're going to be creating propellant out of out of these things. Now, when you can make propellant out of water, what does that do for our fuel technology down here on planet? Right. So when you can so the north and south pole of the moon have these craters where the sun doesn't shine.

They're permanently shadowed there, permanently shadowed regions. And we don't yet know how the ice is distributed there. We got to send some scouting missions to go see like literally map where the ice is at. But once we do that, we can build machines to go harvest the ice, melt the water, electrolyzer into hydrogen and oxygen. That's some of the most basic and powerful rocket fuel.

And. Yes, yes. That's right. And, you know, astronauts can drink it. We can breathe the oxygen. And so imagine your body as you drink more and more moon water, your body will increasingly be made out of the moon. I think that's kind of a cool thought.

That is cool. Yeah. Yeah. So. So you'll literally become a moon person or a lunatic? Lunatic. Yeah. Yes. But, but, you know, to to escape from the moon, you've got to get a rocket going two and a half kilometers per second. Every second going two and a half kilometers. That's that's fast.

But it's actually in the whole space scheme of things, it's not that fast from Earth. That's something more like nine kilometers per second. We call that Delta V, the delta v just to change in velocity and that is considered the kind of the currency of spaceflight.

If you can get a cheaper delta V, well then everybody wins. You've also got this pesky atmosphere on earth that you've got to launch through and that slows down your rocket. When you're trying to launch on the moon, you don't have that. So we can extract rocket propellant, rocket oxidizer, we can launch missions around the solar system from the moon.

We can launch supplies back to Earth. We can use the propellant to move ourselves around the moon for this lunar economy. So and all of that fuel that we might on the moon is is thousands of tons that we don't have to bring from Earth. We won't have to bring as much from Earth, and we'll have a whole lot of wealth in space that we can go take advantage of. And we can change how we leave Earth, too. We can change our rocket fuel to a cleaner fuel once we once we develop that technology.

So it's it's a it's a very good thing. It's a win win all around. Yeah. Hold on to your boosters. We will be right back with Kirby Runyon and Ken Bowdon and talk about space tourism after a brief message from our sponsors.

Both of you are space tourists. Virgin Galactic has been selling seats on the space flight for several years. In fact, I talk about a lot of what he does in my first book, Space Marketing, and I love how he created the program. It's not just about the flight. It's you know, they've because the flight was so far off, they they created a VIP program and you get the special things that other people would not get. You get the experience more than just the minute, two, three minute flight.

You get so much more in can. You're a ticket holder? You're the first one that I have met. Oh. No, that's very exciting. And I've been a Virgin Galactic fan for a long time. So you've got to tell us about your Virgin Galactic experience and as a future Virgin Galactic astronaut. Sure. I would love to.

I'm I'm very like I said, I mentioned before, I'm very passionate about space. And the moment I've been I've been successful in the oil and gas business. I had a a great success in 2012. And the day I got a check from selling some of my royalties, I bought a ticket on Virgin Galactic. There wasn't even a it wasn't even a choice of what the first thing I was going to do. And so that was 2012 and I thought, Oh, well, we'll be in space fairly quickly.

We've had, you know, they've had a few mishaps and such, but it's amazing. Even after the major accident, very few people dropped out of the program. The reason for it is because Richard Branson has built a community. He hasn't built a a rocket or a spaceship. He's built a community and and I think that that's really that marketing push that he did is it's really sort of an internal marketing thing.

So that he he he really it's all about the hospitality side of things, the events. Let me tell you, Richard Branson knows how to throw in a bit. We've I've been to quite a few of the tours out at the spaceship factory and the spaceport.

We've done the geologic field trip is in conjunction with a tour through the spaceport, which was which was amazing. I did the eclipse back when the eclipse came across back a couple of years ago. And and what an event. It was a glamping event out in Wyoming. And it was five star tents, giant, you know, five star meals. It was a beautiful event.

But the great thing about it is you meet all of these people, all of these folks from all over the world. I mean, it's not just folks from the U.S., it's folks from Germany and France and then Japan and all over. And you become to understand that this is sort of a world event, that it's not just a U.S. thing, you know, it's been built in the US, you know, launched from the US.

But it's a world event. It really is. It's and it has really created a community. And I think that's really why, you know, that that virgin experience is, you know, is everybody's so looking forward to actually making it to space. Definitely what your Virgin Galactic experience like you've really talked about how it's not just a space tourism, it's one off thing.

You are really in this club of space explorers. That is a VIP club. Yes. And that's powerful. You know, a lot of people think that marketing is just about the sale or it's about an irritating advertising on TV. But marketing is really, truly a relationship with your audience.

It's everything that you do. And Richard Branson is a genius when it comes to marketing because he know how important the experience and the relationship is to his customers and his audience. And so he's made it to be I mean, people could have very easily gotten upset, you know, when things didn't fly the first time or the second time or the 30th time. But, you know, he created he created something that was worth just as much.

Right. And I'll tell you, I was I went to the Richard Branson's trip to space at the spaceport. What an event. That was just it was just mind blowing to to watch the space, to watch the spaceship drop. You know, that was close enough to the spaceport where you can you could see it with the naked eye, where it drops at 50,000 lights up and goes straight up.

And the thing that really struck me is that brought home that, hey, this really happened, you know, is that, you know, 12, 14 seconds after after the launch hit, the burn was already, you know, well on its way before the sound reached us. And that when that sound reached this, it just sort of, you know, it was just like all of a sudden you knew that this was this was hey, I'm that's going to be I'm going to be there. It was it was exciting. Sonic boom when it was coming into land. We didn't I didn't really hear the sonic boom coming in the way.

But it was but the rockets. You don't. Yeah. You know, I'm not yet a Virgin Galactic ticket holder, but I've seen how Virgin Galactic puts on events. You know, I was leading this group of I was with Virgin Galactic.

We were out in the desert in January of 2022 at White Sands National Park, which they're going to easily see from space. And, you know, White Sands, you're there for the the nature. You're not there for any luxurious accommodations. And they have like they have pit toilets there. It's not fancy.

But, you know, the we and the future astronauts got there and Virgin Galactic had sent out some caterers to set up this incredible picnic right there on one of the national park picnic tables for us. I mean, it was like pillows and cushions and centerpieces and this incredible food spread that it it just made the desert feel luxurious. And it was totally that Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic hot brand of hospitality and fun. It was I mean, Virgin Galactic knows how to have a good time. Yes, they do.

And he knows how to make everybody else have a good time. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, Kirby, you are also a space tourism with your parabolic flights.

Now, first, let's let's talk about I've actually done a podcast with a Zero-G’s CEO, Matt Gold. Yes. So why don't you tell us a little bit about what parabolic flights are and then tell us about your experience. Sure. So the Zero Gravity Corporation flies a pretty normal Boeing 727 aircraft that used to be in commercial aviation for just flying passengers around and they converted it. Just some minor modifications, really, so that it can safely fly in these what we call parabolic arcs. And for about 20 seconds, it's like gravity turns off inside the airplane as the gravity as the airplane pitches up and then begins to pitch over as it goes over the top. It's like flying a roller coaster in the sky, but with a really big track and for a normal flight, you do that 15 times and you actually get more weightlessness, you know, in aggregate than than can will get on his Virgin Galactic flight not to minimize that because that's more about the view but on these zero gravity flights you get 15 opportunities to get about 20 seconds of weightlessness each time you can feel this incredible freedom of weightlessness.

You haven't experienced bodily physical relaxation until you've completely relaxed every muscle in your body in weightlessness. It is such an incredible sensation and the freedom to be able to fly flip upside down. So my story with this was back in 2020. As a as a NASA funded researcher, I won my first ever NASA's grant proposal to do some impact cratering experiments in zero gravity.

And so we built it. We built this contraption to study how impact craters blowing their what we call ejecta across a simulated planetary or asteroid landscape when the gravity is lower. And so to celebrate winning this this this grant proposal, which was I resubmitted it four times, it got rejected three times, it finally got accepted and to celebrate, I'm like, man, I've always wanted to do this.

And so I just went out to celebrate. I just bought myself a consumer ticket to just be just a regular passenger on on on this flight, as a as a space tourist. Now, I wasn't going to space, but we use space tourism to refer to any space experience that a tourist might go do on Earth or in space.

And so I had such an amazing time. It was literally a lifelong dream come true for me. It was so much fun. I signed up again. I did it again. I brought some friends from work with me that time, and then they asked if I'd be interested in being a zero gravity coach for them to as a as an external contractor, helping paying customers have a safe, comfortable and informed time. And so I got I've gotten to do that quite a number of times now, making sure that I've customers are are having a good time and enjoying themselves and and have and stay comfortable and safe.

And so so I've done that quite a bit. And now I'm really pleased to be in official partnership with the Zero Gravity Corporation offering what we're calling the Solar System Gravity Tour experience, because we don't just do zero gravity. We can also simulate the Grand Prix from Mars and the moon and other large moons in the solar system.

And little known fact the planet Mercury, which is smaller than Mars, actually has the same gravity as Mars. Both Mars and Mercury have 38%. The gravity of Earth and Earth's moon and the other large moons in the solar system have about 15 to 17% the gravity of Earth.

And by flying the airplane just a little bit differently, we can give passengers the experience of gravity on those planets. And so if people stay tuned to my website, that's playing on that space and pretty soon I'm going to have on my website the advertisement for that solar system gravity tour experience where the night before we have a luxurious dinner at a country club, we're going to have a half hour presentation or so on the leading edge of planetary exploration around the solar system and how it relates to their flight. The next day. Then on that flight, we're going to have a number of parabolas where we experience the gravity of solar system moments. We're going to have astronaut challenges, activities for customers to do as though they were on the Moon or Europa or Titan, these other moons in the solar system.

And then we're going to have asteroid gravity, which is basically weightlessness. And you can see what it'd be like to explore the surface of an asteroid. And we're going to be taking off from the historic NASA's space shuttle landing facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

So it's going to be a very all inclusive space experience touring the gravity levels of the solar system. Pretty soon people will be able to find out more. Again, on my website. And we're hoping to do this more often to really make a really visceral, a visceral connection and an intellectual connection between what people experience on the zero gravity airplane, but also how that connects to modern day planetary exploration.

Yeah, the zero Zero-G is it within reach is not something you know a lot of criticism is that spaces for the playground for the rich but Zero-G is it's an expensive ticket as well. I mean it's not average, each ticket You know, they run about $10,000, I think. Right. You're going, right?

That's right. So space for everybody to go more than once. You get a discount.

Yeah. More than one. Yeah. So. So it's something that if someone is if it's that important to somebody, you know, middle class, they can save up their money and they can do this. It's it's on par with a first-class transatlantic ticket. And if you can save up your money and do that, then this is within reach to experience.

And, you know, hopefully as as this goes on, eventually the price will come down, hopefully so that more and more people will get to experience the absolute magic and joy of weightlessness. Absolutely. And speaking of experiences, and that is a common theme. We have different levels of space tourism.

You have the movies and the entertainment that takes us to space within our minds. And then you have the orbiting space tourism and then you have the strata space tourism, you know, like with the balloons and everything. And you have the parabolic flights, which is in the atmosphere, but you also have something called analogs which are facilities on the ground that mimic a mars terrain or a moon terrain, and has activities like science, very science experiments and whatnot to see what it's going to be like in those those environments. And I touch base with you the other night to see if you had done one.

And why don't you talk about those experiences if you either one of you have done those. Sure. So so yeah. Izzy, as you said so planetary analogs we're talking about analog in the sense of things on earth being analogous or an analog to geologic landforms on other planets or moons. Just, you know, two weeks ago and of January 2023, Ken and I were out in New Mexico looking at two volcanic landforms that A he's going to see from space as a Virgin Galactic future astronaut and B, are analogous to landforms on Mars.

They are Mars analogs one of those Mars analogs that that that future astronauts that private astronauts will see from space is this volcanic crater called Aden Crater. And it's in the middle of this expansive lava flow in southern New Mexico, just north of the US-Mexico border and just west from El Paso, Texas. And it's this site where a lot of lava erupted.

It left this really beautiful crater, what we call a caldera, at the top of this shallow volcano. And I was talking to a friend of mine who's a planetary volcanologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and he said the eight inch crater is one of his favorite Mars analogs for symbol for for showing us what the surfaces of Mars volcanoes are like. Maybe people are familiar with Olympus Moons. It's the largest volcano in the entire solar system. But there's also some other large volcanoes on Mars as well. And they all have these volcanic craters or calderas at their summits, an eight inch crater.

It's only like 100 or 200 yards across. It's not huge, but it's a nice miniature planetary analog to to to those places on Mars. Also, at the beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to co teach a class with Johns Hopkins University geology professor, Dr. M.A. Smith. And we had a number of undergraduate geology geology majors in Southeast California. We went to SEMA Volcanic Field near Baker, California, which is this these beautiful volcanoes.

If you see them from above, the lava flows look like they're actively dripping down slope, but they look really cool. And we did simulated moonwalks through those volcanic fields. All the students had a walkie talkie. We paired them up and they had very precisely time, like 20 minutes or 40 minutes to do certain geologic tasks on these lava flows, as if they were on the moon. And they could communicate with myself or Professor Smith with walkie talkies and because we were mission control. And so the idea was to help students understand how astronauts are going to do geology differently in NASA's upcoming Artemis program and how the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and seventies did geology on the moon.

When you're on a very tight timetable, you don't. You can't write because you're in a bulky spacesuit. You can't draw on a geologic map.

You've everything's got to be verbal descriptions of video and photograph. And so the way that astronauts do geology on the moon, both in the sixties and hopefully coming up in just a couple of years here with Artemus is fundamentally very different from how an exploration geologist like Ken does it when when he's out in the field with a button compass and a hand lens and a geologic map. Right. And I was going to say something about that time frame that time schedule.

I was fortunate enough to do a Kickstarter reboot. The suit, which was the restoration of Neil Armstrong's spacesuit. And so I spent 2 hours with the restoration team in Dulles Airport there at the Air and Space Museum there, and own Neil Armstrong's request on his glove was the was the itinerary of what he had, what he had to do in the timeframe that he had, which.

So when you're in space, that time outside is very valuable. And so it has to be very orchestrated. And I thought that was just when I saw that I was like, Oh, that is so cool that he had actually had his itinerary of what he was going to do on the moon written on his wrist. So it was right there available. Yeah.

You didn't get this because. Johns Hopkins students do the same thing. They had their exact itinerary and timeline rubber banded to their wrist. So they knew, okay, I've got 5 minutes for this activity, 15 minutes for that activity.

And I got to get back to the car and or the rover in like 40 minutes. And so we did the same thing because they are on a schedule. Yes. You can't be late. Right? Don't you run out of oxygen. You run out of nothing yet.

So you can't you can't be late. So let's look into a crystal ball and tell me what you see the space industry in, say, the next the next ten years are going to be just mind-blowing. So let's let's just ten years from now, where do you see things going to be? Yeah, thanks.

I think ten years from now. So that puts us in the early 2030s. We're going to have as many people as who want to experience weightlessness, be able to afford to save up and go do it with lots of zero gravity flight experiences. I think suborbital spaceflight will be very common and not just suborbital, but point to point transportation on earth. That's that suborbital as well.

So if you want to go from Los Angeles to Tokyo, you can do it in less than an hour on a suborbital spaceflight. I think we're going to see that industry start to pick up. Hopefully. And I hope that we also see an increase in in, well, my business of training people in the geology of Earth that they can see from space where they become more more literate with regards to Earth as a planet and people's appreciation of our incredible national parks, state parks, not just in the U.S., but in other countries where, you know,

I'll do a little bit of a tangent are our national parks are in, are under, are under appreciated. They're incredible, they're beautiful. And they connect you to Earth as a planet when you visit them and they connect you to other planets as well, where there's similar geology there, people who go to Yellowstone don't realize that when they see Old Faithful or Steamboat Geyser erupt, they're seeing something similar to what happens on Jupiter's moon Europa, or Saturn's moon and Solidus. And there's incredible connections to the cosmos like that. So I hope that we see a more scientifically literate space tourism.

Come on. I think there will be more space themed events on Earth to go to that are informed by real space exploration. So I'm thinking like theme parks and immersive experiences like that. Absolutely ignorance is dangerous to our planet. Hmm. Yes. So, Ken, go ahead.

What do you see in the next ten years? Well, I think the commercialization of space in terms of that, just to think, okay, to send an average shuttle up into space was $1,000,000,000 a launch. Okay. I mean, and that was considered cheap, you know, the Falcon-9 goes up a couple of orders of magnitude less, you know, I mean, it's it's it's amazing.

And then when Starship is done, you know, you'll be able to send stuff to space for almost the same price as sending a package from L.A. to New York. Imagine then what happens of being able to transport materials to space at a, at a cost of of sending a package across the world. You know, the the you talked about mining. I think within the next ten years, I think we will be begin to understand that a single metallic asteroid can provide all the all the platinum family minerals that we would mined from Earth.

You know, we all the rare earth minerals that are difficult to find on Earth. Or exclude or exclusive to a certain area that doesn't want to. Share those with to a certain area that doesn't want to share, you know, that, that, that it opens up space for that for industry. And I think you will be in ten years we'll see the beginnings of people living in space, working in space on a more permanent basis. You know, assuming we it to the moon in the timeframe that we're hoping, you know, that'll give several years to begin to construct a moon base. You have to have people living there to construct a mean moon base.

So I think that's that's really an exciting time that we're in right now. And, you know, and I'm I look forward to the day then that we have space citizens and we have to worry about, okay, how do you how does that citizenship work? You know, are you of the earth or U.S. citizen of the moon if you live there for a period of time? Well, and and, you know, as far as space happening, you know, we always put that disclaimer in because we've seen it happen too many times where things kind of start to look hopeful.

And and then, you know, the budget doesn't get passed or something like that. But it is not up to our Congress in the United States anymore whether or not space exists. You've got 80 different countries now with space programs. If we choose to not not to participate. This is all still going to happen.

Yes, we have industry. We have industry. We have individuals that are sending rockets to space. You know, and it's not just governments now. Governments, you know, if if the budget changes or priorities change, that program goes away. Hence, we haven't been elected, you know.

Yes, of so but you think anybody's going to anything's going to stop Elon Musk from getting to Mars? I don't think so. Not an end. He's got some fabulous stuff this year. Oh, I know. It's amazing. So, you know, I think that's the difference we see now is that once industry understands that there's a a a profit motive, you know, that I think just as ships going across the Atlantic understood, there were resources that could be acquired.

And and I you know, I sort of feel like that it as a geologist understanding the catastrophes that have happened to the planet, I think it is important for us to have some of our DNA off planet because it is inevitable that either a supervolcano or an asteroid or something else will happen. I mean, it will happen. It's not a matter of if. It's not if we just have a near-miss.

Yeah, we just had a near-miss we didn't know about. Yeah, it's not if, it's when. And so the quicker we get off planet the better in my, in my view. Yeah.

You mentioned something about the privatization and the commercialization. And as a recent academic turned entrepreneur and small business owner myself, yeah, I've got that inside passion, but there is that profit motive. That's a motivating factor.

I mean, the financial incentivization to explore space and, and bringing that away from. I mean I want the government to do it too, but I also want the private sector to do it where that profit motive, motive exists to, to really innovate. It's that it's that incentivization that that really drives innovation and that gives people the freedom to pursue their passions that they would do if they would they would want to do if they could get paid or not. But but getting paid really makes it possible. So, yeah, it makes it possible. Yeah. So, so as a new entrepreneur myself, I'm really excited about the possibilities and the freedom that this financial incentive gives people.

Now, we need both. We need the. Government. To do research and things that maybe don't generate the profit but can stimulate the economy around space. So, well, they win by a bigger budget. Yeah. And I think planetary science is very, very, very important. I've been a member of the Planetary Society for quite a few years, and every year the Planetary Society does a lobbying event for an individual.

If somebody wants to be involved with that, I mean, it's it's it's done every year. The regular people go to go to Washington DC and and tell about their passions for space. It's that that's the fun that's the fun thing of planetary science. The government definitely has a role in in in real science and funding that real science that corporations have not done so much anymore, that it's been left to governments to do.

And so I think and that's important that we do a lot of the other things without that planetary science. Absolutely. And we need we need kids to wake up and every morning and feel juiced about going to school because they're learning how to do stuff with the planets and the asked, you know, space adventures. Yes. I think that it's for the kids. It's absolutely important for the kids, but it's important for the for the grownups to have jobs that they're excited and used to go do as well after they've had that space education. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

So what final thoughts do you want to leave our audience with today? I'd like to just share my passion for sharing the joy of weightlessness and the joy of learning about Earth as a planet and really getting to use Earth to explore planets next door. The national parks are in our backyard. Let's do it. I would invite people to come to my website,, and let's go explore it together. Awesome. Ken Yeah. My parting of my parting comments are essentially this is that space is for everyone.

Mm hmm. We didn't. We an event at the spaceship company and talked to the employees.

And my wife afterwards says, well, can you can afford a ticket, but they can't. Isn't that sad that they can't afford a ticket? I said, But they will. By the time they're my age, they'll be able to afford a ticket. Part of the reason a lot of the Astro future astronauts in the suborbital space are going is so that future generations or future folks can then afford to to go to space. And I think that's really the my parting comment is that democratization of space is really important. It is competition.

It makes things safer, better, and more people experience it. So bring it on. Bring it on. Yes, indeed. So wonderful. And well, Kirby, we will see each other at the space conference and a space tourism conference on April 28th in Los Angeles. And do it.

And I am looking forward to meeting you as well. This is a great conference. Can I don't know if you are going, but it was so much fun. It was so much fun.

Oh, I may talk to Kirby about it and say about it. It'll be fun. It was the most amazing experience had at a conference. And, you know, just the synergy with all the other people.

It was just amazing. So that's it for today. And thank you both so much that your contact information and some relative unrelated links will be in the show notes. So please make sure that you check those and I can't wait to see you. So thanks so much. Please subscribe before you head on over to my YouTube channel for bonus footage.

Links to the YouTube and other social media channels can be found on A special thanks to Kirby Runyon from Planex Experience Consulting and Ken Bowdon from Bowdon Energy Corporation for speaking with us today and sharing their experience with their journeys to space. Be sure to check out their links listed in today's show notes. I hope that you have found this podcast useful for your journey as you reach for the stars.

2023-02-14 05:44

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