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Brian Altmeyer, Friday, 10-24-14 October 25, 2014

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Brian Altmeyer, Friday, 10-24-14


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Guest:  Brian Altmeyer.  Topics:  We discussed the guest’s article posted on the Oct. 6, 2014 issues of The Space Review:  “The Strange Contagion Of a Dream.”  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 Brian Altmeyer to the program to discuss his Oct. 6, 2014 Space Review article, “The Strange Contagion of a Dream: How Space Visionaries Hijack Governments to Change the World (see http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2611/1). During the first segment of our 1 hour 27 minute discussion, Mr. Altmeyer introduced us to the background behind writing this article, how he got the idea for it, plus he explained the overall impact space visionaries have had on him and his interest in space development.  Our guest took us back in time to the V2 program, Von Braun, and the politics of beating the Soviet Union to the Moon.  He made the case that both the Soviet Union’s and the US space program fed off each other in the form of competition to not only develop military space resources and ICBMs, plus our civil space programs as well.  I then asked our guest if he thought competition with China over their lunar and long range plans would result in a similar push for civil and commercial space.  His response was very interesting.  Ellen in Portland sent an email suggesting we did not have inspirational or effective leaders today like we had with Von Braun and others.  Brian disputed that and made reference to Elon Musk at SpaceX several times during our discussion.  Gerald Driggers called to talk about the impact of the International Geophysical Year on our early program.  Gerald worked in the early space program & had much to say about the main space personalities of the time along with the early rockets.  Our guest was asked about vision and Mars One, again he brought up SpaceX, and then he talked about exoplanets.  I asked him about the second to last paragraph in his paper regarding leadership issues and many waiting or expecting a new leader to come on the scene in a future election.  Don’t miss his comments on this issue.

In the second segment, Brian was asked about space budgets serving as a limiting factor & if SpaceX was carrying too much of the burden for our moving forward with space development.  Listeners asked him about sustainable space projects inspired & pushed by advocacy.  Do the projects continue or eventually die off?  Allison sent in a note asking our guest why we even needed HSF.  For his response, he cited reasons often provided by Elon Musk when he gets this question or one like it.  Near the end of the program, Ron emailed our guest to challenge his visionary outlook by asking if he had considered the reality of applying  human medical factors, engineering realities, orbital mechanics, & the known science for rockets & human spaceflight regarding the type of visionary statements made by Brian during the show.  This proved to be an interesting discussion as Brian said there were two ways to resolve such issues.  One way would be through testing and incremental progress to resolve or mitigate problems and the other way would be to just do the flight and sort of learn on the job, realizing there would be lots of casualties but at least we would be flying and learning.  I asked our guest if he was dismissing the known engineering &science including medical science.  He said he was not but clearly he preferred the second approach to problem solving. What do you think?

Please let us know by posting your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach our guest through me or the email address he provided at the end of his Space Review article.


1. Kirk - October 26, 2014

68:30 Brian Altmeyer suggested that SpaceX conduct a self-funded stunt mission in order to demonstrate to the world just how advanced they’ve become. The last stunt mission that they pulled off was including a wheel of cheese inside the first Dragon which they flew as part of the two orbit COTS Demo Flight 1 back in 2010. I do appreciate a quirky sense of humor, but I didn’t find the cheese nearly as impressive as the successful flight and recovery itself.

SpaceX’s manifest still shows its first Falcon Heavy test flight scheduled for 2015, and I’ve not heard of them securing a paying customer for what most would assume to be a risky flight. Also, while SpaceX has described their Dragon capsules as reusable, they currently build and fly a new capsule for every NASA commercial resupply mission, so between the two COTS demo flights and four completed CRS missions, they have six lightly used Dragon capsules just sitting around. Finally, SpaceX has stated that their heat shields are robust enough to survive reentry from the Moon or Mars.

So, if a Falcon 9 can loft a Dragon capsule laden with a couple tons of cargo into LEO, should a Falcon Heavy be able to put a mostly empty Dragon into a free return trajectory around the moon? Now that would be an impressive stunt, showing off the power of the Falcon Heavy, the reusability of the Dragon, and the resilience of their heat shield.

2. Joe from Houston - October 26, 2014

So, the way Korelev and Von Braun got their leaders to buy into exploration beyond Earth is to ultimately force them to justify the funding for the purpose of protecting themselves and their countrymen from incoming ICBMs. This is no different than a winner-takes-all high stakes poker game. It was all about taking a huge risk in guessing who was bluffing or use strategies such as effective body language in face-to-face meetings or instigate military blockades in getting the other player to simply fold so no one finds out who was bluffing. Getting players to play the game resulted in the Card Dealers (Korelev and Von Braun) to get what they wanted; a rocket that propelled a non-Earthbound spacecraft into space.
Elon’s way is to spare the whip and instead dangle the carrot in front of the leaders by making it so cheap and enticing that it becomes potentially affordable for rich space enthusiasts that want to travel in space because they can afford it. How simple it can be! These people represent groups of organized people who choose to pool and relinquish their wealth for selfish reasons before their ultimate death. They come to realize they can’t take it with them and they find better ways to utilize their wealth for ultimately selfish reasons even though they promote non-selfish reasons. They are so enthusiastic, they are willing to never return. So, how do you compete with that?
This is essentially an ingenious shell game under the cloak of human pioneering on uninhabited planets. By nurturing rich space enthusiasts to make it as comfortable as possible with no intention of returning it makes it enticing for them to continue along this path.
Each participating player must choose which shell contains the pea after they all get shuffled around a lot. The leaders are likely to buy two choices for every one choice by a rich space enthusiast. Eventually, the leaders will be forced to pay to choose all three shells to eliminate the chance of any rich space enthusiast in participating; much like they have done in the past. This effectively raises the price and demand beyond affordability for a group of rich space enthusiasts that have pooled their wealth.
Why do they do this? Because they fear what the rich space enthusiasts would tell their Twitter and Facebook Followers that may reflect badly on their leadership. By definition, leadership is all about controlling what people think about their leadership by telling their supporters exactly what they want to hear whether it is true or not. So far, no rich space enthusiasts have done such a thing since they know they must adhere to the unwritten rule of compliance with the leaders for the granted privilege of space participation.
Currently, rich space enthusiasts are not allowed to travel to space because the leaders have bought all of the tickets and raised the price/demand of seats on rockets that used to be affordable to rich space enthusiasts. This predictable behavior is easily taken advantage of, making the shell game shufflers rich and powerful beyond their wildest expectations. Their secrets of their successes are not really secret when you zoom out and analyze their strategies from an objective viewpoint instead of a space advocate viewpoint.

Matt - October 27, 2014

Small correction: It must be written “von Braun” not “Von Braun”, “von” means just “of or from”.

3. Matt - October 26, 2014

… Wernher von Braun was not Hitler’s victim and was not “used” by Hitler. Wernher von Braun – as most of Germans at this time – did all what he was able to do for success of Germany WW II activities by supplying most modern weapons.

Yes, it is true that von Braun and others had ideas and visions in respect to space travel already in Peenenünde, which guided them over decades and which they would like to achieve over time. However, never was their main work – developing weapons – significantly affected by these dreams. Wernher von Braun was boss of over 10,000 employees, who worked a large variety of weapon programs.

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