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Rand Simberg, Monday, 6-9-14 June 10, 2014

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Rand Simberg, Monday, 6-9-14


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Guest:  Rand Simberg.   Topics:  HSF safety, risk taking, our space dependency on Russia, and much 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 http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed back Rand Simberg for a 1 hour 36 minute discussion regarding our HSF dependency on Russia, risk taking space safety, and more.  In our first segment, Rand talked about his book, “Safe Is Not An Option” (see http://www.safeisnotanoption.com), as well as his pointing out that what he said in his book about our growing dependence on Russia for our HSF is coming to pass.  This led to a discussing of the Sen. Shelby language in the proposed NASA funding appropriations bill to account for fixed costs in a similar way such costs are accounted for in the FAR.  Rand summarized his HSF safety comments by repeating one of his better known statements that many of us agree with, that is HSF is not important!  He discussed his meaning of this statement throughout today’s program.  Rand talked about HSF being worth the risk, 16 years of ISS and only now starting to do useful things, one of which he identified as an important drug project for curing MSRA.  This discussion prompted several listener emails including one from Jim asking if we were seeing the end of NASA/government HSF?  Tony asked Rand what he would favor were he the supreme space dictator of the country.  Rand suggested returning to the old NACA model.  Later, he said HSF is not a mature industry and compared to the 1920s airplane design as that is where spaceflight design is today.  He had much to say about safety as a priority and safety regulations.

In the second segment, Ben asked him about SpaceX being qualified for AF spy satellite launches.  I asked Rand about the Dragon V2 as he was present at the unveiling.  He went inside the capsule and shared his perspectives with us.  Space settlement came up and Rand received many email questions referring to it.  He was asked about SpaceX fast tracking Dragon V2 depending on what happens with the Russians.  We talked about influencing congress and Rand suggested writing to members of congress as the count is totaled by the members.  Given the overall low numbers for the space advocacy community, getting letters to congress is important.  Near the end of the segment, he was asked about Inspiration Mars and Mars One, he talked about the serious need for a gravity lab to determine the minimal gravity prescription.  Before our discussion ended, we talked about the NRC Pathways study on HSF and Mars.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  You can contact Rand through his book website, Transterrestrial Musings (www.transterrestrial.com), or me.


1. Michael Listner - June 11, 2014

One comment that raised a question is that if Space X wasn’t bound to its commitments to NASA that it would probably fly its own private astronauts on its own terms. My question is whether the FAA would grant a launch license for such a flight without Space X answering some questions about the safety of the crew. Just a thought.

quantumg - June 11, 2014

How would the uninvolved public be affected? That’s all the FAA cares about.

2. quantumg - June 10, 2014

I heard Rand suggest that SpaceX not only could fly an astronaut on the next Dragon cargo flight, but would happily do so if NASA asked them to. While there was a certain amount of hyperbole here, even taking that into account – I think he’s wrong.

I think the general argument that NASA is risk adverse and SpaceX isn’t, when it comes to human spaceflight, is wrong. Maybe a decade ago this was true – pre-Falcon-1 – but a lot has changed since then. SpaceX has adopted the mindset that “space is hard” and vehicles that carry astronauts need to have “safety as the highest priority.” I think it’s hard to argue otherwise, although I’d love to hear otherwise.

It’s a silly thing to argue about, as I strongly doubt it’d ever happen, but to suggest that SpaceX is chomping at the bit to fly astronauts is just counter-factual, in my opinion.

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