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Open Lines, Monday, 12-26-11 December 27, 2011

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Open Lines, Monday, 12-26-11


Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  Elon Musk New Scientist interview on his Mars plans, rocket development costs, policy issues.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://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.  The Space Show/OGLF is now engaged in its annual fundraising drive. Please see & act upon our appeal at https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/space-show-2011-fundraising-campaign.  We welcomed the final 2011 Open Lines program.  During our two hour discussion with one break, I outlined discussion topics up front but as you will hear, one topic struck home. Listeners wanted to talk about the New Scientist interview with Elon Musk entitled “I’ll Put Millions of People on Mars, says Elon Musk.”  You can read the full interview on The Mars Society website, www.marssociety.org/home/press/news/illputmillionsofpeopleonmarssayselonmusk.  Callers honed in on the reported development costs for the Mars spaceship ranging from the $2-$5 billion.  Those that called the program thought this was inadequate funding.  At one point I looked up the development costs for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which so far was estimated at $32 billion.  Since all of us thought a Mars spaceship was more complicated and involved in R&D than a new Boeing jetliner, listeners seemed to be more convinced that the projected costs were too low.  One listener brought up the costs of military projects such as the F22, the JSF, nuclear powered carriers and submarines, etc.  Another listener wanted to know if Space X was planning to open up additional launch sites to those that are publicly known.  In the second longer segment, not only did the military hardware come up for cost comparisons, but John in Atlanta wanted to talk about the Space News Op-Ed by Christopher Kraft (http://spacenews.com/commentaries/111219-nasa-needs-wake-reality.html).  Mr. Kraft wrote about the need to internationalize projects and make use of publicly available international hardware rather than build the SLS.  Tim called in from Huntsville to talk about the Musk interview, the rocket development costs, and using space resources to lower the costs.  He even suggested Elon make use of the QuickLaunch idea to put lox/kerosene in orbit for refueling.  Dr. Jurist called in to talk about the human factors for a Mars mission and that they seem to be understated by the Mars advocates.  Dr. Jurist speculated that it might take 5-10 years just to be able to address most of the human factor issues, not including what might be involved in implementing solutions.  We then talked about Stratolaunch and air launch.  We talked about the small payload capacity of the proposed vehicle and the need for multiple flight depending on the mission and the needed total payload.  Our next topic was yet another Soyuz failure and what this might mean for the ISS if the Soyuz problems are not fixed.  Terry called in again from Corpus Christi to talk about the Falcon 9 & Dragon flight in early February and how the success of the flight might become a driver for more commercial crew funding from the government.  With Dr. Jurist, we also explored the idea of inviting a certain UC Davis aerospace engineering professor to the program to discuss horizontal versus vertical launch and reusability.  I concluded this program with my own wish list for more civility within our space advocacy family and for real leadership with responsibility and accountability to emerge at all levels in Washington, DC, not just for space, but for the future of our nation.  If you have comments or questions, post them on The Space Show blog URL above.



1. Robert Clark - December 31, 2011

Keep in mind the SpaceX plan does not require developing a whole new vehicle or reentry capsule as they plan on using the Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecraft.
Also, they are assuming they will get the $1,000 per pound launch cost of the Falcon Heavy.

Bob Clark

2. Andy Hill - December 28, 2011

I am beginning to wonder whether SpaceX can deliver on its promises, they seem to be taking a lot on considering that they haven’t launched anything this year.

I can accept that the delays going to the ISS are not all down to them but why haven’t they launched some of the backlog of F9 flights on their manifest?

I think that to silence their critics they need to start getting regular launches going. I also find it difficult to believe that they will be able to make a fly back booster without having some serious payload penalties where most of the current payload would be taken up in extra fuel.

3. Tim - December 27, 2011

I forgot to mention last night: a project like the 787 Dreamliner more complex than a rocket and capsule. There are a slue of safety requirements that the 787 must have to fly that a Dragon capsule will never have to worry about. A dragon capsule will never fly over 200 passengers over populated areas. Also, part of that development cost is the production facilities to mass produce enough 787s to meet the demand of a market that services millions on a daily basis. Musk’s cost estimates of $5 billion are optimistic, but it shouldn’t be compared to a mass produced passenger airliner either. It’s comparing apples and oranges.

Tim - December 27, 2011

I should have clarified something. A mission to Mars is more than a Dragon capsule, but neither is it a mass-produced commercial airliner either.

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