Episode 56 – Weekly Weinersmith Soonish Series – Dr. Elizabeth Frank on NewSpace

Welcome to the reboot of The Weekly Weinersmith, celebrating the paperback release of our book Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything.

In this podcast series, we’re going to revisit each of the 10 technologies discussed in Soonish, expanding on topics touched on in the book, exploring related matters, and checking out new advances since the book came out.

That is – the stuff in the podcast will be different from the book, so go buy it.

(Just a quick note that you shouldn’t confuse the Weekly Weinersmith’s Soonish podcast series with the excellent podcast called Soonish. The Soonish podcast is about emerging technology, and is run by Wade Rousch. Here is the episode where Wade was kind enough to have Zach and I on as guests.)

The first chapter in Soonish is on Cheap Access to Space. We mostly talk about ways to reduce the price of launching things into space, but reducing launch costs is only one part of a current movement called “NewSpace”.

In this first podcast episode, we interview Dr. Elizabeth Frank about NewSpace. Dr. Frank earned her PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and did her postdoc at the Carnegie Institution for Science (working on NASA’s Messenger, which orbited Mercury). She then spent 2 years working at Planetary Resources, Inc., and is now an Applied Planetary Scientist at First Mode.

The Cheap Access to Space chapter in Soonish goes into detail about reusable rockets, as well as crazier that just might work – including shooting payloads into space using gigantic guns, and putting rockets on what amounts to an enormous pogo stick.

We also provide answers to critical questions like, would a space elevator make you puke? And would it be bad if someone decided to fling an asteroid at the Earth?

Finally, we tell the story of Gerald Bull – a Canadian engineer who ended up working on a supercannon in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and was then assassinated in a hotel in Brussels.

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