NASA Edge | The Future Is Bright | Interview with NASA-Kennedy Director Bob Cabana
NASA EDGE interviews NASA Kennedy Space Center Directer Bob Cabana during their coveage of SpaceX-3. Find out about commercial space, future NASA launches and lounge singers.
FRANKLIN: One of the benefits of doing the NASA EDGE Show is that we have an opportunity to not only speak to engineers, scientists, but former astronauts, current astronauts, agency director and center directors.
CHRIS: Bob Cabana, Center Director for NASA Kennedy was all those that you said rolled into one person.
CHRIS: Which is really cool and very unique.
FRANKLIN: He actually sat down with you on our Live Show set for the Space X III launch and you did a decent interview him.
CHRIS: Yeah. He gave us the big picture of commercial space going on at NASA Kennedy, from commercial crew to commercial flight. In fact, we talked a little bit about the Space X NASA agreement at Pad 39A. And also, we’re waiting for SLS when it first launches in 2018 or FY18 from Pad 39B.
FRANKLIN: After you watch this interview, if you want to learn more about the Space X III launch and the reason we were at the Kennedy Space Center, go to our UStream page. You can also go to ITunes and download all of our shows including the Best of for the Space X III Launch.
CHRIS: Don’t forget to watch it through its entirety because there’s a special at the end.
CHRIS: I tell you this is another great day for a launch. Of course, you’ve seen many, many launches here over the years. We sort of have a new direction since Shuttle retired.
BOB: We do. Every launch is special. I don’t care what it is. When a rocket leaves planet Earth, it’s a special event. It’s really neat to watch. Today is a historic day. I don’t know if you know this but a little while ago I was out at Pad 39A with our Administrator, Charlie Bolden, and the president and Chief Operating Officer of Space X, Gwynne Shotwell. We had just sign the agreement leasing Pad A to Space X.
CHRIS: Oh, that’s great news.
BOB: It is great news because this is our future. We are establishing KSC as a multi-user spaceport; government and commercial operations, crew and cargo, to and from low-Earth orbit, and beyond. Just a mile up from Pad 39A is Pad 39B. You know our future for heavy lift for the Orion spacecraft. We’re on track. In fact, Orion rolls out of the Operations and Check Out Building in May. It’s going to be complete. That’s a real spaceship. It rolls out of the ONC. It goes over to the PHSF, Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility for ?? servicing.
BOB: Then, it goes to the LASF, L-A-S-F, the Launch Abort System Facility that aborts rockets done. This December, it could go earlier, we gave up our launch date for a DOD mission. But, by December at the latest, we will be launching on a Delta IV heavy 3000 nautic miles from Earth, further than we’ve ever gone since we went to the moon on a test flight with the Orion spacecraft checking out its thermal protection system, its recovery systems. They’ll pick it up off the coast of California and bring it back and it’s going to get used again. That’s real space hardware, a real space ship.
CHRIS: It’s going to be exciting times for NASA Kennedy, as you said.
BOB: Oh, this is an exciting time. I’m very positive about our future. We are enabling commercial space operations in addition to preparing a way to explore and establish that human presence in our solar system.
CHRIS: Will Space X be using the VAB?
BOB: No, no. They’re going to build their own horizontal processing facility right outside of 39A on crawler way. That’s where the Falcon 9 Heavy and Falcon 9 when it flies off this pad will be processed. And it rolls out up horizontally and gets erected on the pad.
CHRIS: Will Space X allow other companies to use?
BOB: Well, right now it’s exclusive for Space X. If they make their manifest that they show, it’s going to be busy out there.
CHRIS: I tell you what, one of these days we’re going to be seeing the SLS coming out to Pad 39.
BOB: I cannot wait. Well, even right behind us. There’s the launcher. You know, we’re modifying the base of it. We’re getting the systems installed on it, a High Bay 3 and a VAB, the furthest one from where we’re looking. That’s going to have…. Well, right now all of the platforms are out of it. We’ve let the contract for the new platforms to support SLS. It’s not that far off. This is 2014. We’re looking at a flight in fiscal year ’18.
CHRIS: That’s right.
BOB: Just three years away.
CHRIS: That’s EM-1.
BOB: That’s the space launch system with the Orion crew vehicle on it, without a crew in it, on a full functional test of the system before we put crews on it. That’s going to be awesome. I cannot wait. The pad is coming along great. Right now, we’ve totally gutted the plane trench. All the plane deflectors are out of it, all the firebricks are off the wall. A whole new system is going in. We’re going to use a steel plane deflector this time, only in one direction. We’re updating the environmental control system that provides the conditioned air to the vehicle. We’ve already done all the data distribution system, pulled all the copper wire. We make $620,000 in scrap off the copper we pulled out and reinvested it back into the project. All fiber optics, digital control system. This is going to be our launch pad. We are going to Mars from that launch pad.
CHRIS: State of the art facility.
BOB: You got it. Thirty years from now we’re going to be launching still off this launch pad. You know, it was difficult to see the Shuttle stop flying but we want to transition to the future. The future is exploring away from our home planet, Earth. We needed, truthfully, a little down time…
CHRIS: That’s right.
BOB: …to put the investment into the facilities to get them ready to support SLS and Orion.
CHRIS: What I want to is we have that 130 metric ton vehicle, that’s going to be even bigger than Saturn V.
BOB: Oh, it’s going to be awesome. Yep.
CHRIS: Where are we going to have to be to see that launch?
BOB: I’m hoping it’s in the exact same spot. It’s going to be pretty, darn impressive. Absolutely.
CHRIS: You think three miles will still be safe enough?
BOB: I think so. We’ll have to take a look, but yeah, I’m hoping so.
CHRIS: If you had to do it all over again, being a former astronaut, would you be willing to go back?
BOB: I would go in a heartbeat right now. I would be flying on Dream Chaser, the Boeing CT-100, the Dragon Rider, the Orion. If it goes to space, sign me up.
CHRIS: Well Bob, thank you so much for being here. We look forward to the Falcon 9 launch which is going to be the resupply mission.
BOB: Beautiful day.
CHRIS: Beautiful day, resupply mission to Station. We look forward to talking with you again.
BOB: Chris, always.
CHRIS: Thank you so much.
BOB: You bet.
CHRIS: Well, that wraps up another launch for NASA EDGE.
FRANKLIN: Another successful launch. You know what? This is beginning to be my home away from home here at Kennedy Space Center. We’ve been here so much.
BLAIR: I’m part Floridian at this point.
CHRIS: We want to thank all our guests that make this show possible, especially the Subject Matter Experts that were with us today.
CHRIS: And we had our special guest, Center Director Robert Cabana, who joined us.
BLAIR: Which was awesome. Amazing.
MAN: [singing] His name is Robert. He was an astronaut. That yellow jumpsuit that he wore, it made all the girls adore. He’s from Minnesota and he has a Math degree. He’s always reaching for a star. That’s just how high he set the bar. His mission count was four. That’s a really decent score. And now he’s a center director. Who could ask for more? Yeah, it’s Robert, Robert Cabana. And don’t you know I’m a big fan of, yeah, of Robert, Robert Cabana. That tight marine haircut is always in fashion when you’re Robert Cabana.
BLAIR: You’re killing me! Why?
[Man humming softly]
CHRIS: You’re watching NASA EDGE.
FRANKLIN: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.
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