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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Friday, 3-8-13 March 9, 2013

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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Friday, 3-8-13


Guest:  Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Topics:  Dr. Tyson’s book, “Space Chronicles: Facing The Ultimate Frontier,” delusional thinking, space exploration, space economic power.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information.

We welcomed backed Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to this 60 minute discussion about the new release of the paperback version of his current book, “Space Chronicles: Facing The Ultimate Frontier.”  If you buy the book with this Amazon link, Amazon will make a contribution to The Space Show/OGLF:  http://www.amazon.com/Space-Chronicles-Facing-Ultimate-Frontier/dp/0393343626/ref=onegiantlea20.  The book is a collection of all of Dr. Tyson’s thoughts about the past, present, and future in space.  It consists of essays, tweets, op-eds and more, plus an appendix with important documents such as the original agreement creating NASA in the late 1950s.  Neil said that some of the points he made in the book were that space was expensive and that we do things in space for one of two reasons: 1.  As a result of military threat or war; 2: In support of economic growth of the country.  He then supported his argument with historical facts, making the point that we do not explore for the sake of exploring, that exploration is not in our DNA, that we do not go into space to inspire future generations of kids, and then he even mentioned that the famous JFK Rice University speech which he said was a lie in that weeks before in a speech before Congress, President Kennedy put forth the real reason we were going to the Moon which was to show the world a path of freedom over tyranny.  Dr. Tyson documents this on p. 192 of his book by saying that “Kennedy did adopt a military posture in his speech to Congress.”  Neil stressed this point during our discussion in support of the above reasons for developing.  More about this speech can be found at www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jfk-asks-congress-to-support-the-space-program.  The actual text of the speech can be seen at www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/xzw1gaeeTES6khED14P1Iw.aspx.  Dr. Tyson also talked about the problem of delusional thinking among space enthusiasts, a theme we went back to several times during our discussion.  Another point he made was about the importance of innovation and having a culture of innovation with space goals supporting the economic growth of an innovative nation.  Kelly asked a question about the best way to increase NASAs budget in bipartisan support of space for STEM, inspiration, spin-offs, etc.  Our guest said all of the reasons cited in Kelly’s question were irrelevant.  Don’t miss what he said.  We also talked about the need for infrastructure and Neil said that governments have to pave the way for the frontier and the private companies follow and economically develop it.  He said the commercial companies do not and will not be able to open the space frontier with the needed infrastructure.  I then depicted government as sort of an advance man in space with the privates being able to capitalize that infrastructure development for profit & national wealth. A listener asked about China, a space race, and a possible space war.  Dr. Tyson also said that we should have launch vehicles that go everywhere for research and innovative reasons and we needed to shift our culture to seeing space as a long term national investment for creating wealth for the nation, far beyond the term of our elected officials.  He talked about SpaceX and the need for a rich and fertile collaboration between government and the commercial companies regarding space.  I asked our guest about testifying before Congress. You will want to hear what he had to say about that based on his experiences in do so.  We talked about space and grass roots movements. He talked about GDP economic growth during the Apollo period and then what happened each decade after that through the current period.  Jim sent in a question pointing out possible contradictions in his comments & suggested fuel depots as a way to minimize the quantity of rockets and launches. Dr Tyson said he was hardware agnostic and that in developing infrastructure and paving the way for the privates in space, fuel depots might very well be part of infrastructure but that government would be doing them, especially early on.  Later, Dr. Tyson talked about our system being a political system and that it was not going to change.  He used this as one of the examples of delusional thinking given many enthusiasts who don’t accept this reality & believe they can bypass or work around the political nature of our government and systems.  Near the end of our discussion, he was asked about the Inspire Mars mission which he said was probably a stunt but that it might serve the purpose of showing the government that lots of people are interested in an HSF to Mars.  Another listener wanted to know if the Inspire Mars mission turned out bad, would it derail human spaceflight.  He did not think it would do that given other space accidents with the loss of crew.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog and I will call them to the attention of our guest.



1. Joe from Houston - March 9, 2013

There is a third reason why we do things in space. The potential threat of global annihilation from a large meteor strike.

Trent Waddington - March 10, 2013

You’re talking to a brick wall Joe. Tyson has been giving the same sermon for years. He doesn’t even change it the day after he contradicts himself.

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