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Open Lines, Wednesday, 6-15-11 June 16, 2011

Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.

Open Lines, Wednesday, 6-15-11


Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  Commercial space, space policy, California space industry, NASA and more.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  As we started the Open Lines discussion, I put forth 12 discussion topics but not all interested the callers.  I suggested talking about the demise of the California Space Authority and what this might mean for the California space industry, the Mars Society Rover Contest winner, the Space Launch System congressional program for NASA, military concern about being surprised in space, the House charter and costs for shuttle and COTS participants, a poll on Americans wanting to continue with the space program, the Mars Society and others re the Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, the space comments in the last CNN Republican Presidential Debate, the Science article about sunspots hibernating and a possible mini-ice age, Space Show copyright issues, and the possibly that Congress will revert to standard FARs instead of the Space Act Agreement for future CCDEV programming (see www.commercialspaceflight.org/?p=1551).  After mentioning these possible discussion topics, our first call cam from Christopher Hearsey regarding astrosociology and the special issues of Astropolitics devoted to the subject.  The special issue is Vo. 9, Number 1, 2011 of Astropolitics: the International Journal of Space Politics and Policy.  Chris told us how we could access the articles if we don’t have access to the journal.  Chris also pointed out the Astrosociology website at www.astrosociology.org.  If you are interested in the subject, contact Chris at chearsey@astrosociology.org.  John from Atlanta was our next caller about transmitting VLF from space to submarines.  As you will hear, this does not work.  He also talked about the Republican debate and the NASA question asked of the candidates.  Mark from Huntsville called in to give us an update on what was happening in and around MSFC.  He said times were still tough, layoffs going on and even his position would end on Sept. 30 and he would likely leave the space industry.  He talked about NASA having no budget nor the mindset for building a new heavy lift rocket in connection with the SLS.  We also talked about milestones and NASA contracting.  After a short break, we returned with our second segment in this two plus hour program with a call from Kelly.  Kelly talked about New Space, Falcon rocket failure rates, Space X, SLS, Atlas 5, Delta IV, Orion, Ares V, and Constellation.  He suggested New Space was going to be a big loser with Congress and this sparked several email and follow up calls as people wanted to challenge what he said.  Later, Andrew called to refute Kelly’s Falcon failure rate claims.  Several listeners also sent in emails challenging Kelly’s Falcon and New Space comments. One came from Andrew with an open letter to NASA from Sen. Shelby (www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1540).  I was hoping for some discussion about the California Space Authority shutting down, a possible mini ice-age due to sunspot hibernation, plus some of the other potential topics I mentioned at the start of the program.  All in all, it was a very busy Open Lines program.  The phone never stopped ringing and lots of emails came in based on caller discussion comments.  For your comments and questions about this discussion, post them on the blog URL above. If you want to email any of the callers or those who sent in an email, send it to me and I will forward it to the person of your choice.

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1. John Hunt (in Atlanta) - June 19, 2011

Tim (of Huntsville) raised the issue of the obstacles to interstellar travel do to possible collisions with objects in space. Of course interstellar space is largely vacuous with perhaps 1 hydrogen atom per cc. There are regions more or less dense. There are dust clouds as well.

Assume that an advanced civilization has the technology to build a spacecraft that cruises at 10% of the speed of light. Suppose that it encounters a speck of dust of 1 milligram mass. The energy released by collision with the spacecraft would be about 450 megajoules. It common terms this is equivalent to the explosion of 215 pounds of TNT. In ballpark terms this is about the power of a 500 aircraft bomb. So it’s not trivial. Of course the effects are different that chemical explosions. It seems to me that the energy would be in the form of high energy charged particles and X-rays/gamma rays.

To see this consider the question of what happens when the 10% of light speed spacecraft encounters a single hydrogen atom. It turns out that the hydrogen atom will impact with energy of 4.7 Mev. As it ionizes an decelerates to will admit some energetic EM radiation. Each particle of atomic weight “n” will have energy n x 4.7MeV. So there is going to need to be some serious shielding to protect a fast interstellar spacecraft.

If we imagine an even faster spacecraft, the issues above will become that much more challenging.

2. Kelly Starks - June 16, 2011

As to our question last night as to what was with Shelby now wanting a competition for the SRB part of the SLS contract. As you can see below, if the current design based on SSME’s or J-2X engines and the existing SRB’s goes through, then Aerojet is locked out. If there is a recomplete though, Aerojet can compete for new 5 segment SRB’s (for shuttle they proposed a jointless SRB, but NASA refused to consider it since they were the only ones that could build it and deliver it to the cape) as well as competing with their RS-35s for P&W’s SSME’s or J-2’s for the liquid rocket engines.




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