Mike Gallo, CEO of Kelly Space & TechnologyDr. Earl Renaud, COO of TGV Rockets

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 5, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Would you pay for a ride to space after seeing what happened to the Columbia and its crew? Well, a slew of entrepreneurs are betting a lot that you will. The mission that turned deadly this past weekend has not squashed the dreams of my next two guests. They, along with 22 other teams, are scrambling to win a $10 million prize to become the first private venture to launch a manned space vehicle. Joining us now from Los Angeles is Mike Gallo, he is the CEO of Kelly Space & Technology. And from Washington, Dr. Earl Renaud . He is the chief operating officer of TGV Rockets.

CAVUTO: Welcome, gentlemen, to both of you.


CAVUTO: All right, now, Mike, to you first then. The timing seems odd. You still think there will be an appetite in the market for this despite what happened last weekend?

GALLO: Absolutely there will be, because this is a dream that started had started long before the shuttles ever even flown. It started in me as a young child watching the Apollo flights, and I thought one day I would be a astronaut. And I believe these commercial ventures are what the hope is for space flight in the future.

CAVUTO: Now this is your vision here. It looks essentially like a plane, right? So how would this differ from the shuttle?

GALLO: Exactly. Well, ours is a horizontal takeoff, horizontal landing vehicle. It will take off, actually being towed behind a commercial 747 aircraft. And we have done the testing up at Edwards Air Force Base, in California here, and proven our tow-launch concept. And basically it is a trick to get up into space without strapping on these big, huge boosters and having the vehicle takeoff as violently as it does. This is more he of an airline-like model. One like a FedEx to space so to speak and back.

CAVUTO: All right. Dr. Renaud, what is your vision?

DR. EARL RENAUD, COO, TGV ROCKETS: Well, when you look at the history of air transportation and space transportation, they go in completely different paths. The early days of air transport, very quickly we saw a progression from aeronauts, as they called the first pilots, to commercial pilots and eventually to passengers. And we haven't seen that kind of progression in rocketry and spaceflight. And what we want to do is change the paradigm and move the whole industry over to the ability to carry passengers safely.

CAVUTO: All right. But what am I looking at? I'm looking at drawings. There's something that looks like a pencil taking off, what is it?

RENAUD: That is an artist concept of the Michelle-B, that's our vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing rocket.

CAVUTO: OK. Is it similar to what the Apollo was like? It looks like a simple standard Saturn-V vehicle or what?

RENAUD: The way it flies is more like what people would think of as Buck Rogers. It goes right straight up and then comes right down and lands on its tail.

CAVUTO: OK. Mike, back to you. Since yours is like a jet analogy, do you think that will fly with people who are worried about anything that compares to the space shuttle?

GALLO: Well, you know, are people worried still of getting on airplanes today? There is a parallel there as well. And there is risk in anything worth achieving. And our astronauts, our fallen visionaries, so to speak, knew this. And they know the risk. And I really believe that there is a big history on aircraft. And I think that parallel to the spacecraft arena is going to be the right approach.

CAVUTO: Earl, let me ask you on that notion, though. I agree with both of you that there is probably enormous commercial interest in space. But then you have to get past the hurdle of approvals and all of that. Is that more difficult in the post-Columbia environment?

GALLO: You know, let me, there is a parallel here.

CAVUTO: Hold on, to Earl first, go ahead.

GALLO: Sure.

RENAUD: Well, I don't think that you could argue that there is going to be a change in the way people perceive it, at least for the short-term. But there is enough work to be done that I think by the time that we are able to carry passengers, and that is quite a ways off.

CAVUTO: When you say quite a ways, how long are we talking?

RENAUD: Well, we will be flying in two years, but I think before you can actually get FAA certification to carry passengers and things like that, it could be six or seven years.

CAVUTO: Mike Gallo, are you in that camp, that this is still a dream many years away?

GALLO: And it is, and it is an incremental development program. You start off step-by-step approach to reduce risk as you go, to get people more comfortable seeing rocket planes flying over their homes and things like this. And we realize it's not going to happen overnight. But it will be an incremental development program proving that we can mitigate risk.

CAVUTO: Real quickly. And this is to you, Earl Renault. Do you think that the shuttle should be able to fly sooner than the 2 1/2-year gap they had after the last accident?

RENAUD: I am not really qualified to comment on that, but I think that the best thing to do is to just let the commission do their work, and find out what went wrong. And I'm sure NASA will move ahead and fix whatever problems they find.

CAVUTO: Dr. Earl Renaud, thank you. Mike Gallo, thank you. Let's see what happens, gents.

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