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Open Lines, Tuesday, 8-12-14 August 13, 2014

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Open Lines, Tuesday, 8-12-14


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Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  Space conferences, SLS, 3D Printing in space, launch systems & 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.

Welcome to this two hour open line discussion covering a wide range of space topics.  During the first segment which was half an hour, I introduced the program and some possible topics, plus I spoke about having attended AIAA Space 2014, the SmallSat 2014 Conference which was held the same time as AIAA, and I referred back to my having also been at the NewSpace 2014 conference.  Some possible topics of interest for discussion included a recent news story about astronauts usage of sleeping pills while on orbit.  Nobody seemed interested in that topic as it was not discussed during this program.  I also noted the huge gap between those working SLS or having an interest in it and those on the side that hate it and think it’s a huge waste.  As I said, the gap was wider than the Grand Canyon with no signs of narrowing.  This issue was raised during the second segment of tonight’s program.  You can read Duane’s article on the lessons learned astronaut panel I mentioned on air at http://www.aiaa-space.org/Forum.aspx?id=24589.

We paused for a short break and we opened the second segment with a call from John in Ft. Worth.  John remained on the phone for quite some time and we covered lots of topics.  Initially, SLS John, as I like to refer to him, went over his SLS place holder theory again.  We did spend lots of time talking about SLS, the gap between supporters and haters of the project, its operational plan, congress, and more.  We also talked Falcon Heavy which John suggested was potentially less real than SLS though I countered that thought.  We talked about the RD-180 rocket motor problem, and I told him & the listeners about some of my AIAA discussions, interviews including my breakfast with Dr. Mike Griffin & Frank Van Rensselear of Schafer Corp.  We also talked Dream Chaser and the press conference SNV held at AIAA, plus I talked about my interview with Larry Price, Deputy Director of Orion.  John said his real interest in space was advanced propulsion, specifically nuclear. Somehow our conversation ended up talking about Area 51 and the Clinton era lawsuit against the government by workers exposed to toxic materials.  As soon as John got off the phone, Dwayne called in.  He clarified the Area 51 story for us as well as the old litigation that the workers won but then Pres. Clinton used an Executive Order to overturn the court decision.  Dwayne also spoke about 3D printing in space and the recently concluded NRC 3D Printing In Space(http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=18871  note you may need to open a free account to download the report for free).  There are also lots of news stories about the report should you care to research it.  We talked about 3D printing in space, how it might be used, and the possibility of a later metal printer in space.  Dwayne then spoke to the old Coke and Pepsi wars in space several years ago and he addressed the gap with SLS supporters and those that are against it.  He said it was a huge gulf and that he thought both sides may have less than a firm grip on reality regarding SLS.  In addition to the two calls, we fielded an email from Doug who brought up space settlement, the value of attending space conferences, and the commercial crew down select process.  Tim was our last caller and he brought up SLS again, we talked about the congressional candidate on the independent side in the Huntsville district, Mark Bray in that Mark works on the SLS project and that it would be interesting to know his space policy views since he might win the congressional election.  Tim also mentioned a article about Elon Musk in the NextBigFuture.com re an eighty thousand person Mars City by 2040.  You can download the article at http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/08/elon-musk-timeline-and-extrapolation-of.html.  The final email was from Joe in Houston wanting to know the NASA down select process & who might be responsible for it.  I could not answer his question but please, if any listeners know the answer, post it on the blog.

As always, please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach any of the email listeners or the callers through me.


1. jimjxr - August 15, 2014

People are up in arms about SLS because they have now seen what an efficient space program look like thanks to COTS and SpaceX. Back in the Constellation days people doesn’t know better, the only successful program before are Apollo, Shuttle and ISS, all cost in hundreds of billions of dollars, so everyone assumes this is what a space program would cost. Now we have existential proof that a radical reduction of cost is possible. We know we can do better, much much better in terms of cost, this is why SLS/Orion’s costs no longer make sense to outsiders.

B John - August 16, 2014

Indeed. One cannot have anything near the most cost effective alternative when the government is doing something. My opinion is that the SLS is still worth its price.

What worries me is that it might get canceled, or hardly used for anything. But once it exists, any new presidential space ambition can quickly become reality. Costs are unimportantly small compared to the federal budget and any presidential priorities. What matters is the political will. Being able to complete a human mission within eight years is crucial for that. And NASA does a lot to support making the Falcon Heavy happen too, it’s not one or the other.

2. Dwayne Day - August 14, 2014

The article that I linked to is titled “It’s No Secret – Area 51 was Never Classified,” by Peter W. Merlin. Merlin is a noted aviation writer and he demonstrates that the existence of a government facility in that location was acknowledged almost from the beginning (to be precise, the name “Area 51” was on a government map, and the more important issue is the existence of the Groom Lake facility there). Over time, government policy about mentioning that there is a government facility located there has changed, so that in some ways the facility became _more classified_ in the 1990s than it had been earlier.

In 2013 the National Security Archive at The George Washington University released a document collection about the Groom Lake facility. I thought that the news reporting about that release was rather overblown. A number of news organizations portrayed it (perhaps because the Archive put it in a news release) as the government “declassifying Area 51,” which was really nonsense. There was in fact a government press release in the 1990s that acknowledged government activities at Groom Lake, so I don’t know what the big deal was about the Archive material. It’s just that the fine points of academic arguments often get lost in media frenzies. Here’s an example of a misleading article:


I’ve written a couple of articles about astronaut photography and Area 51:



Note: although I have published extensively on satellite reconnaissance, and have done a fair amount of research about the U-2, SR-71, and reconnaissance cameras, I don’t consider myself an expert authority on this subject.

3. Dwayne Day - August 14, 2014

Here is the article that I referred to concerning Area 51:


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