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Open Lines and 2014 Predictions, Sunday, 12-22-13 December 23, 2013

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Open Lines and 2014 Predictions, Sunday, 12-22-13


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Guest: Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  Space predictions for 2014, SLS, Mars One, Inspiration Mars, radiation, policy, and more.  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. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

Welcome to our final Open Lines program for 2013.  This two hour 1 minute discussion also included space industry predictions for 2014 per our callers.  Note that the first segment was long, 90 minutes, followed by a shorter second segment.  In the first segment, I suggested seeing the NASA Earthrise 45 anniversary recreation of the Apollo 8 Earthrise photo that was released by NASA Goddard.  Andy Chaikin helped create it and does the narration.  It shows where the astronauts were coming around the Moon on Apollo 8 and how they managed to see Earthrise and get the famous picture.  You can hear the astronauts talk about it as they scramble to take the photo.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE-vOscpiNc.  Mike Listener was our first caller about Mars One and his being doubtful the program will ever get off the ground. Besides believing they will have sticker shock from the pending Lockheed Martin study, he doubted their capability as do I and others that called into the show.  He deferred predicting re the Code of Conduct until 2015.  SLS John from Ft. Worth called in and said congress would avoid confrontation so he predicted SLS and Orion would continue for 2014.  He also said Mars One would not happen.  We talked about radiation and the recent Classroom program addressing the subject, the Chinese lunar mission getting attention, and then he said we need a competitor to shake us up (China?).  He also was not optimist on Inspiration Mars.  Falcon Heavy Doug called in to discuss the Falcon Heavy 2014 flight which was on the SpaceX manifest.  He predicted three things for 2014:  Virgin flight, SpaceX getting close to hover technology over the ocean with about 8 flights for 2014 with good recovery progress being made, and #3, the launch of Falcon Heavy.  He thought 2015 might prove more interesting.  He repeated the Mars One comments and then he mentioned that our recent radiation Classroom show should have focused more on solutions. He gave an example using a lunar settlement scenario.  He also discounted the need to have a hab on the Moon equal the same radiation protection as provided by Earth’s atmosphere, instead suggesting 80% of that protection level would suffice for a three year lunar mission.

In the second segment, Dr. Charles Lurio called on a bad cell phone connection.  He concurred about the Virgin flight with Branson aboard, but also pitched XCOR, having much to say about their progress.  He also talked about the ISS and its growing list of commercial opportunities. When asked about Google Lunar XPrize, he said he was pessimistic. Listen to his comment for the details.  Regarding HSF, it needs to get cheaper and we need a commercial space transportation system.  He also talked about SLS and recent proposals to make the project cancel proof.

Post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  All callers can be reached through me if you want to email them.


1. Dwayne Day - December 23, 2013

Someone called in (Michael Listner?) and raised questions about Mars One’s robotic missions. I have a short article in the March issue of Spaceflight magazine about this subject.

NASA’s InSight lander mission is currently capped at $425 million, not including the launch vehicle. Lansdorp would not indicate the expected costs of the two missions, but believes that the lander will cost less than InSight. This is a reasonable assumption: a good rule of thumb is that it is possible to build a second spacecraft at the same time as the first for about 60% of the cost of the original. Making a copy of InSight could therefore cost $255 million (assuming that the experiments on the Mars One lander and the scientific instruments on InSight cost approximately the same amount). Throw in a launch vehicle and that adds at least another $110 million (the InSight mission’s Atlas V cost is $160 million). Surrey’s communications satellite is nothing but a rough guess, but for the sake of argument, assume that it costs $100 million and its launch vehicle the same amount. Thus, the two spacecraft could easily cost well over half a billion U.S. dollars. That is way more money than Mars One will be able to raise via crowdfunding. Lansdorp has indicated that they are talking to private investors in the effort, but he did not indicate who they are.

In order to make 2018 launch dates, the spacecraft development will have to start in 2014. And Lockheed Martin will not start building unless they are sure that Mars One can pay (meaning they are going to want to see a few hundred million dollars placed in escrow). Can Mars One raise a few hundred million dollars in less than a year? (No.)

There are other unanswered questions. One question concerns the details of the study contracts, which have a combined total of over $332,000. Mars One did not indicate the terms of the contracts, and it is possible that they have only issued a downpayment to the companies and will pay the remainder once, or perhaps only if, they have sufficient money to do so. Lansdorp announced a crowdfunding campaign to raise $400,000 to support mission development, and barely a week later they were already over 14% of the way to their goal.

It would be really embarrassing if Mars One was not even able to pay for the studies to be completed.

DougSpace - December 27, 2013

That was a really interesting and practical analysis. Even in rough figures it give a good idea of some of the challenges that Mars One is up against for these first missions. Thanks!

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