ISPCS Panel Discussion: Platforms for Innovation

ispcs_logoPlatforms for Innovation

Chair: Jeff Foust, Editor, The Space Review


  • Steve Isakowitz, President,Virgin Galactic
  • Brett Alexander, Director, Business Development and Strategy at Blue Origin
  • Khaki Rodway, Director, Payload Sales and Operations, XCOR Aerospace


  • LA [Michael Lopez-Alegria] says @jeff_foust is a certified “Smart Guy” – and he’s ready to roll at #ISPCS (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  • Reply to @SpaceRiter @jeff_foust — So the vehicles they are flying will be licensed but not certified, but there’s a certification for Smart Guys. Huh! (
  • Watching @jeff_foust on the podium at #ISPCS talk about the various types of innovation quoting from Jon Gertner’s book (Wayne Hale ‏@waynehale)

Steve Isakowitz — Virgin Galactic

  • Steve Isakowitz proclaims to a”no-neck-tie policy for #ISPCS and no PowerPoint charts either! (Wayne Hale ‏@waynehale)
  • “There’s a certain swagger to this conference!” Steve Isakowitz @virgingalactic ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Isakowitz @ #ISPCS “Engineer at Pearly Gates, asked why he should get in. Engineer: First slide please.” (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  •  Isakowitz: Virgin Galactic feels like the cop who raised his arms when Boston hit Grand Slam. Very exciting things going on. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Steve Isakowitz @virgingalactic – Looking for those intrinsic moments where we exclaim “Yah! The tax returns are right!!” 🙂 ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Isakowitz: Innovation grows from excitement and inspiration. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Apollo inspired many of us – What are we doing to inspire the next generation (asks Isakowitz)? Need to open up the frontiers. (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  • Isakowitz: This is why we’re in this industry. We have moments like this Boston cop did. . (Dan Hendrickson ‏@Dan_Hendrickson)
  • Isakowitz: We’ll have moments when we slam into the fence. The big test is how we will handle it. #ISPCS @virgingalactic (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Steve Isakowitz @virgingalactic – @MIT saw drop in aero eng enrollment after Shuttle sunsetted. Uptick due to commercial spaceflight. ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)

Brett Alexander — Blue Origin

  • Alexander says @blueorigin has focused on reusability from the beginning … and engine development. (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  • Alexander: Jeff Bezos has passion to open the space frontier. Focus from beginning on reusability; engine development #ISPCS @blueorigin (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Blue Origin’s Brett Alexander describing their in house LOX/hydrogen engine development (Wayne Hale ‏@waynehale)
  • Brett Alexander: Blue Origin developing 100,000lbf thrust engine that can fly 25-50 times and be restarted 50-100 times (Michael A. Blum ‏@mablum)
  • Alexander: Not relying on NASA funding, but does want NASA technical expertise and lessons learned. @blueorigin (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Brett Alexander @blueorigin – The @NASA CCDev program accelerated their engine dev by a full yr by allowing them to test at Stennis. (Larry Strader ‏@Strader411 )
  • Brett Alexander of @blueorigin showing video of short hop and pad escape tests. Great to see real video and some smoke and flames! (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)
  • Brett Alexander – Reusability thru vertical take-off & landing, in-house eng dev, and launch abort sums up @blueorigin tech dev tasks ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Alexander: To get multiple customers, need lower costs & improve safety. Will continually refine and update systems. @blueorigin (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Alexander: In commercial crew, low cost, reusability and safety are king. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)
  • Brett Alexander @blueorigin – Low cost, reusability, and safety are King not thrust. It’s finesse, not power in the 21st century. ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)

Khaki Rodway — XCOR

  • @khakirodway: Describing research payloads to be flown on @XCOR. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Khaki Rodway of Xcor talking about noctilucent clouds – which were a very real problem for the space shuttle! Maturity develops! (Wayne Hale ‏@waynehale)
  • @khakirodway: Nice to hear the support and STEM engagement of @XCOR. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • As former mgr of Shuttle Student Involvement Prog, wonderful to hear that students may fly on suborbital flights. #ISPCS @XCOR (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • @khakirodway @XCOR Science and STEM are truly innovative and exciting initiatives going on with suborbital. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)
  • @khakirodway: Notes Kickstarter campaigns as innovative way to finance suborbital research. @XCOR (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Khaki Rodway @XCOR – You can’t rely on Govt funding your research! Think different about funding – VC, @kickstarter, @singularityu. ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)

General Discussion

  • Isakowitz: Virgin Galactic has 650 people signed up to fly. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)
  • Isakowitz: The milestone will be when commercial companies fly more ppl in space than governments. @virgingalactic (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Steve Isakowitz @virgingalactic – The strategic inflection point comes when more citizen astronauts are in space than government… ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Alexander says that in the next five years he expects all three companies to be flying people. (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  • “@SpaceArtAl: Isakowitz: The milestone will be when commercial companies fly more ppl in space than governments. @virgingalactic #ISPCS” (Casey Stedman ‏@casey_stedman)
  • Alexander: 5 year view – you’ll see a mix of Research and Education missions in addition to people flying suborbital. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)
  •  Alexander: Within next 5 yrs, the sub orbital companies will all be flying customers offering different experiences. @blueorigin  (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Citizen astronauts, student astronauts for flight experiments. Their training and safety are key too. Go @Waypoint2Space!! ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Alexander: @blueorigin not yet taking reservations, but will have capability within 5 yrs. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  •  @khakirodway: Over nxt 5 yrs, @XCOR will have multiple vehicles flying from multiple locations. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  •  @khakirodway: Were not just building companies, we’re building an industry. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  •  Rodway from XCOR: We (Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, etc.) aren’t building companies, we’re building an industry over the next 5 years (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)
  • Isakowitz: @virgingalactic will have another flight test very soon. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Isakowitz of V Galactic: “we are not competing for pieces of the pie, we are competing to make the pie larger” (Wayne Hale ‏@waynehale)
  • @virgingalactic Isakowitz: “Series of powered flights” coming up very soon. Can’t wait!  (Michael A. Blum ‏@mablum)
  • Isakowitz: @virgingalactic has hired 3 pilots. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  •  Alexander: Preference is to be able to launch from Pad 39A @NASAKennedy. Hav submitted solid technical proposal. @blueorigin (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • @khakirodway: @XCOR hopes to be flying from @NASAKennedy as soon as possible. (Alan Ladwig @SpaceArtAl)
  • Isakowitz: When talking to Congress, important they understand the importance of commercial flight. #ISPCS @virgingalactic (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Isakowitz: Working to keep their flights off munitions list to avoid ITAR problems for operations overseas. @virgingalactic (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Virgin Galactic President Steve Isakowitz tells #ISPCS NM’s Spaceport “really shines—literally—like a gem out there” in the desert.  (Lauren Villagran ‏@laurenvillagran)
  • Great question from @jeff_foust for panel: how do you manage expectations for your flights. #ISPCS (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Isakowitz: Have not lost a single customer because of delays in beginning of flights. Customers more patience than media. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl )
  • Steve Isakowitz – @virgingalactic customers are more patient than the press. They want this, and they want it done right. ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Brett Alexander – The @blueorigin marketing campaign is don’t say anything and don’t sell anything. And they’re sticking to it!! ( Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Alexander: @blueorigin has a different strategy: Don’t sell yet and don’t talk about it! (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Thanks @jeff_foust for the great panel about Innovation! #ISPCS (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)