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Open Lines, Tuesday, 7-8-14 July 9, 2014

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Open Lines, Tuesday, 7-8-14


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Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  A variety of space topics were discussed in this Open Lines program.  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.

Welcome to this 2 hour 11 minute Open Lines Show.  As we started our first segment, I made several announcements including the return to action for the Space Cynics blog.  This time we will be accepting guest editorials.  Watch for the guidelines/rules for guest editors and those submitting comments to the blog.  Once you see the guidelines/rules on the top blog menu bar, Space Cynics will be officially back. See http://spacecynic.wordpress.com.  I also talked about a recent NPR interview with the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun who just happens to be a top guy at JPL!  I’ll make an effort to invite this person to the show.  Our first caller was from Scott who wanted to talk about and promote his Droid platform app for orbital speed calculations.  If you are interested in downloading this app to your Droid device, search in Google Play for “Orbital Speed.”   Scott described his app and how it worked and since there was some history re the app and the Charles Pooley Microlaunchers book, that came up during the discussion.  This was probably the dominant topic in the first segment.  Pooley did call in regarding the app and the references to his book, but Charles, in addition to promoting Microlaunchers as he usually does, also spoke about himself as the SPACE Heretic.  You can read about this at the tiny URL goo.gl/vo7Ux7 (cut & paste to your browser or use the full URL http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140620023828-9942227-charles-pooley-heratic?_mSplash=1).  During this segment, we also talked briefly about hybrid rocket motors and specifically about escape velocity.  I read an email from B John in Sweden suggesting that going to the Moon or Mars was and is counterproductive for our HSF program.  I asked for listener comment but unfortunately this topic was not picked up by the listeners.  Perhaps some of you listening on archives will post a blog comment about B John’s ideas.

In the second segment, John Hunt called in to talk some more about escape velocity and the formulas for it.  He then asked a series of question about science and STEM education.  I shared what I knew about the topic but we were hoping for teachers or others involved in this field to call in with more information.  Perhaps those of you working in these fields can post some detailed comments in response to John’s questions on the blog.  We had several emails about American public participation for a better HSF policy and for influencing policy makers and Congress for space policy.  The email questions seemed to think some level of American public participation was needed but that the pressure in numbers was not there compared to non-space issues receiving funding.  Also, most thought that the next election was actually the focus of Congress so without the numbers and pressure pushing for this or that policy, other projects get priority funding.  John called back to talk about the need for competition and the lack of it.  Near the end, I read a series of emails with a space advocate saying those that disagreed with him on specific issues were wrong, uninformed, etc. I asked listeners what they thought of this my way or the highway space advocacy mindset.  John did talk about the upcoming NASA down select process and we both thought for sure SpaceX would be selected.  John then said NASA and the public program lacked vision but SpaceX had a vision.

Post your comments/questions on TSS blog per the above URL.  If you want to reach any of the callers, send your note to me and I will forward it to the person of your choice.


1. jimjxr - July 10, 2014

I don’t think public-private percentage matters much, and forcing private companies to commercialize space product may not be realistic in the short term. What matters is how much the public saves by doing public-private partnership instead of full public. If public-private partnership means $1 billion saving and project goes ahead without requiring NASA budget to increase, who cares if private company only put in 10%?

As for state of US HSF, I think it’s ok that there’s a period of low activity, it happened before, between the end of Apollo and the start of the Shuttle. Now we’re just biding time, waiting for commercial companies like SpaceX and Bigelow to mature. People who criticizing SpaceX for recently delays may not realize their F9 v1.1 is less than one year old, and it already has 4 successful launches, this far exceed any current launchers (Ariane 5, Atlas 5, Delta IV) in their first year, I think only Delta II gets higher # of launches in its first year (6 or 7 launches).

2. DougSpace - July 9, 2014

We don’t need a bigger budget.
We don’t need increased support from the public.

Rather, we just need to spend the budget we already have a whole lot better. COTS, CRS, CCDev shows that this can be done. For this we need a policy tweak which I hope will be the policy of the next administration.

3. DougSpace - July 9, 2014

One emailer asked what I thought was a fair question. When we discuss public-private programs, how much public, how much private? Fair question.

The current public-private programs have had private companies put in between 0 and 50%. I am actually fine with anything within that range. I personally don’t believe that it is the amount of private money put in but rather the method of acquisition that is so important — namely, the SAA approach with limited oversight, milestone payments, and payments for deliveries.

The COTS-like approach shouldn’t just be for LEO and a Lunar COTS but also parallel programs could be started (e.g. COTS for depots, tugs, artificial gravity demos, etc). These could be conducted in parallel to the current government program in the same manner that we are doing now.

It is almost ridiculous how successful the current public-private programs have been. For between 2-4% of NASA’s budget, here’s what America is getting access to:
– 2 boosters
– 2 upper stages
– 3 cargo/crew capsules

And, if we credit COTS with saving SpaceX the we might be able to expand the list of possible capabilities thusly:
– commercial station (Bigelow needs transportation)
– partial reusability
– full reusability
– propulsive landing
– orbital lab (Dragon lab)
– medium heavy lift launcher
– new large methane engine
– less expensive HLV

Finally, I would point out that the goal of the public-private programs is to eventually transition them to strictly commercial providers without any government support. This means the companies owning the technology, they must present a plan for partial or full market support, and competitors must also be developed. In that case, NASA becomes just one of several customers.

4. DougSpace - July 9, 2014

Because I am busy at work on Tuesday nights and yet like to call in, of course my two cents would be to have Open Lines on Sunday afternoon. I did want to respond to the topics discussed, hence my post here.

I’m not a fan of cynicism because it has a bias towards disbelief regardless. Just imagine what the cynical perspective would have been beforehand on any point of positive progress which we have made. Rather, I would prefer a probabilistic estimation of whether success is likely or not. This approach would help to boost or detract from ideas based upon their merit or lack thereof.

Although I don’t know about whether Brian’s app is accurate or not, I do think that space calculator apps could be quite useful. So I intend to email him with a list of such ideas that I would like to see developed perhaps into a single meta app.

No one took up Bijon’s point but I’d like to take a swing at it. Although I am definitely a Moon-first advocate, I none-the-less agree with much of what he says although I think that he needs to consider the timing if things. To his points he could explicitly add that free space colonies more easily achieve a full gee than on planetary surfaces and also, in the long run, there is more surface area in the asteroid belt.

But I think that he is failing to address what should be the first place to go to for settlement and (relatedly) resources. The issue is one of the ready availability of shielding.

On the Moon and Mars, sufficient shielding for habitats is just meters away. For orbital settlements you would at best have to transport asteroids from considerable distances over considerable amounts of time. To achieve the full gee with shielding you would have to transport a horrendous amount of shielding and maybe spin it up.

As for the loss of excitement during the Apollo program, all those astronauts had roughly the same job description doing roughly the same thing. It got old quick. Also, they weren’t establishing a permanent settlement. Going to the Moon or Mars to stay with men and women, plants and animals, becoming increasingly capable — it would be a whole different story. And asteroids are in no way more interesting than the Moon or Mars.

But yes, in the long run you are right — free space and asteroids. Just some things to consider.

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