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Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 12-16-14 December 17, 2014

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Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 12-16-14


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Guest:  Robert (Bob) Zimmerman.  Topics: Space news projects and updates, end of the year review, looking to 2015.  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 Bob Zimmerman back to the program for a wide ranging discussion of space news, space companies, projects, programs and more.  During the first segment of our two hour seven minute show, Bob started off promoting his book on Apollo 8, “Genesis” as we are coming up on the anniversary of this famous flight orbiting the Moon on Christmas eve at a distant time in our past.  After Bob’s infomercial was complete, he did have much to say about the everlasting importance of the Apollo 8 mission.  I asked Bob for end of the year space events to keep our eyes on so we talked about the upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 launch and the attempt to recover the first stage on a barge as part of the SpaceX reusability plan.  We also talked about the Russian Angara rocket test flight.  A listener asked Bob for updates on the NTSB accident investigation for Virgin Galactic.  Bob also talked about SLS (it was yet another recurrent theme throughout the program) and as predicted, he had nothing good to say about it or Orion.  BJohn emailed us to ask about nuclear propulsion.  Both Bob and I responded and while we support it, there does not seem to be a business case for it or demand for it so there is no significant push to make it happen.  Marshall called to talk about the impact of falling oil prices on the space economy.  I had much to say about this as did Bob who in the end talked about trusting capitalism, freedom, and private enterprise to do the right thing.  We also talked about the impact of falling oil prices on the Russian economy, specifically their space program.  I then brought up the interest rate risk which is a huge potential danger for the US economy.  Luis emailed in about Falcon 9 prices of $5-7 million per a January 2014 Parabolic Arc article.  Note that this was clarified early in the next segment.

In segment two, Dr. Charles Lurio called to explain more about the SpaceX launch cost referenced by Luis in the previous segment.  Charles also talked about the Orbital effort to replace the Antares  rocket motor with another Russian motor, the RD 181.  Joe emailed in a note about the compact fusion plans for Lockheed.  Bob used the opportunity to criticize the large companies, their projects, pork, you name it.  Doug emailed in about some Boeing YouTube videos which Bob completely dismissed as having zero relevancy on anything.  Bob also took some slams at Orion and the recent test flight.  Next, we talked about the new announcement about Curiosity finding methane on Mars.  Bob added more to the story and said it was a wait and see situation but ultimately we would have to there to really answer questions about it.  SLS John called and said the program of record was going forward and made the point that for private enterprise to do something in space as Bob kept talking about, there needed to be a profit motive and he doubted that existed other than for some orbital and comsat missions.  Bob disagreed leaving the door open for a private company to pursue something not previously considered, again saying he trusted in the ingenuity of the private sector.  John reported that he had modeled the Falcon Heavy and could show it would take 53 metric tons to LEO.   Bob then talked about Falcon Heavy being cheaper than SLS (planned that is) so there really was no need for SLS.  Henry emailed a question about a possible Europa mission & Bob suggested if they would kill SLS, money could be directed to the planetary science department for things like a Europa mission plus they could still reduce the NASA budget.  In his concluding comments, Bob said he was skeptical about the suborbital industry and that its time had come and gone given the emerging orbital capsules and flight plans.  He concluded saying he was looking forward to the upcoming SpaceX launch abort tests.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Bob through his website http://www.behindtheblack.com or me.


1. Jfincannon - December 24, 2014

Regarding your idea for Christmas ornaments, it occurred to me that a popular way to make things like this now is with 3D printing. The machines are pretty cheap and it saves having to outsource to China.

2. Andy Hill - December 22, 2014

Leaving the SLS debate behind, which is obviously still a scab that people cant help but pick, I would have been interested to hear a little more about the Martian methane and the fact that it appears to be seasonal.

Is this not more indication that its origin is biological, I have often heard it said that the methane can be a result of geological reactions but never explained how this can happen and what the environment needs to be to allow this.

3. The Space Show - December 20, 2014

Guys, please stop insulting one another, calling people names, all but calling the other a liar, and in the end, acting like a spoiled brat know it all. It is one thing to be critical of ideas, information, theories, data, etc. Its quite another to insult someone and in all honesty, act like a jerk and that is what is happening with some of the blog discussions. The rules for The Space Show on air and on the blog are civility and respect. That does not mean throwing childish insults back and forth. Ideas, theories, conclusions, analysis, it all needs to stand up to the light being shone on it or it falls into the darkness where it belongs. This can be done professionally and without the jerk and insulting behavior.

Please abide by Space Show civility and respect rules. While I am not interested in naming names, those of you who do this know who you are so come on, cut it out and be professional and respectful. People have different ideas and evaluate facts, etc. and come up with different conclusions. Even scientist disagree on theories and such and allows for competing theories and testing. To think differently about a project or information does not make the other person wrong or a liar or someone who misleads. Your way may not be the only way or the best way so let’s have respect, civility and tolerance in our blog posts.

Thanks. Also, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year to all of you. Let’s hope 2015 is a good year for space!


rboozer1 - December 20, 2014

My apologies, I did not intend to insult anybody. But facts independent of what either I or John think can only support one view or the other. Both sides cannot be right. No matter the sincerity of either or both sides, the preponderance of the evidence independently existing in the outside world is what is the accepted norm for deciding such issues. I sincerely mean it when I say, give me solid evidence with meticulously validated sources and I will change my view. In fact, I used to hold the view that a huge NASA designed and developed rocket is the only way to go, until the amount of evidence to the contrary was too much for me to ignore. I have yet to see anyone on the other side give a reference to outside evidence that the GAO, NASA’s own Inspector General, etc. are mistaken about the economic impracticality of SLS.

Anyway, I will try to tone down the rhetoric in the future, but I will not let inaccuracies slide here the way I have done many times in the past.

Most heart-felt Happy Holidays to everyone and I do mean everyone.

4. rboozer1 - December 20, 2014

“For one Mike Griffin supports SLS/Orion.”
Ah, yes, how surprising. The original architect of using Shuttle-derived hardware that caused Constellation to go massively over budget ultimately led by political chain reaction to the SLS mess.

“Dan Adamo (a 30-year-vetran NASA flight dynamics expert) has held that there are serious drawbacks to relying on multiple launches for a moon mission and has pointed out the problems with orbital deports.”
And even if that were true (and a number studies by NASA, universities and industry say it isn’t), that doesn’t change the fact that there are more practical ways of getting heavy-lift than SLS. Even if SLS were up and flying, it could never do so at a high enough rate to brings the costs down enough to make deep space missions on a PERPETUALLY SUSTAINABLE basis.

“Therefore we should stay the course until the next Administration and see what develops”
Causing NASA to make little no progress into deep space before it is cancelled due to economic impracticality, for reasons stated above. Yep, great plan, John. Congress will come around as soon as enough people realize the current Catch-22 situation with SLS/Orion, especially after alternatives are flying from the commercial sector (and I don’t just mean SpaceX).

5. John Hunt - December 19, 2014

I sadly have to retract a statement that I made on the December 16 show. Unfortunately in rechecking my math in my spreadsheet model I found a mistake. I had been trying to model the Falcon 9 and the heavy previously and had failed. In searching the data on the Space X website was finally able to model payload to LEO for the Falcon 9 and the came out well. So when I extended it to the heavy and got almost exactly 53 metric tons I just accepted the result.

However, when I tried model the heavy without cross feed I found the mistake. So I’m going to not make any more claims at this time but I will remove my support for the Space X claim. Sorry for any confusion.

rboozer1 - December 20, 2014

That is B.S. John. The SpaceX 53 tonnes for FH is based on crossfeed. The only way you can get less is to leave out crossfeed. I mentioned 53 tonnes in the earlier debate in November and it is also mentioned on the SpaceX web site. I think one of those two sources is probably where you got the 53 tonnes that you mentioned on December 16. I think it strange that you are the only person claiming less than 53 tonnes for an FH without crossfeed. Here are the actual numbers:
FH with crossfeed and no reusability: 53 tonnes
FH without crossfeed and no reusability: 45 tonnes
FH with crossfeed and no reusability: 38 tonnes
FH with crossfeed and reusability: 32 tonnes.

People who are on the right side of an issue do not have to stretch the truth, they just rely on the unvarnished and unaltered facts in objective reality. The fact that you knowingly distort the truth to try to make your point proves that on some level, even you know you are wrong. If you were right, you would not have to resort to such tactics.

Also John, you have made other claims in the past based on limited info. For example, last January on The Space Show you talked about how impractical depots were for going to the Moon because orbits around the Moon were too unstable for a depot there. That is true. The problem is NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN TALKING ABOUT PUTTING A DEPOT IN LUNAR ORBIT. The depot was to be at either Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1 or Lagrange point 2. You automatically assumed you knew all of the details without actually looking deeply into it. Really John, I’ve known about the mascon induced lunar orbital anomalies since the 1970’s, as an astrophysicist do you honestly think I or any other experienced professional would make such an obvious mistake? Instead, it was you that made the obvious mistake by thinking you knew everything when you didn’t.

rboozer1 - December 20, 2014

” I think it strange that you are the only person claiming less than 53 tonnes for an FH without crossfeed. Here are the actual numbers:”
I misinterpreted my first read of your statement. For that I freely admit my mistake and apologize. You are instead saying that you came up with 45 tonnes payload with no crossfeed. That still doesn’t change the fact that this 45 tonnes figure was published long before you claim you calculated it. No matter what, that figure did not originate with you.

It doesn’t change the fact that you said Bob and I didn’t get the point about SLS being in two different payload classes, when we both clearly said their payload capabilities on an individual launch basis were different. It also doesn’t change other inaccurate statements you have made in the past.

6. rboozer1 - December 18, 2014

“… expectations need to be tempered with reality and that reality is for all the potential that Space X has, they have long way to go, which is why we need the legacy launchers such as ULA and Orbital in the mix.”
I agree with that summation 100 percent. I have always been a proponent of all of those manufacturers.

Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

Holy sh– Rick! We agree on something! A good way to end 2014.🙂

7. Michael J. Listner - December 18, 2014

There is also the issue of reliability. It was discussed during Dr. Foust’s appearance that Space X has fallen far behind in what it wanted to launch and what it actually launched. Just today, the December 18th launch for ISS resupply has been delayed again until January 6th for an unspecified technical issue. One wonders with the issues they have with a nine-engined rocket whether the issues with a 27-engined rocket will effect the reliability of that particular machine. Mr. Zimmerman is enthusiastic about Space X as are most of us in the community, but expectations need to be tempered with reality and that reality is for all the potential that Space X has, they have long way to go, which is why we need the legacy launchers such as ULA and Orbital in the mix.

8. Rick Boozer - December 18, 2014

“Bob and Rick both miss the point that the Falcon Heavy and the SLS are in two different payload classes.”
No, we don’t miss that point and do not deny it. You are just stuck in the old paradigm that everything must be sent up in a single launch. There are people who came up with that old paradigm under Apollo who say it is no longer necessary in the particular case of the Moon and possibly some other places farther out. For any more ambitious projects, large heavy lift vehicles can be made that are much better suited for that purpose than SLS (as explained in our previous debate) and apparently are going to made with or without NASA. It would happen faster with NASA’s help, but all SLS is doing is slowing things down.

“Bob pointed out the delays in the Falcon Heavy test launch and it is looking like that version will not have cross feed as SpaceX is talking about a 45 tonne version.”
John, you are stretching the truth big time here. While tables have been published showing the Falcon Heavy payload capability both with and without crossfeed, they are merely to show the extra capability crossfeed offers. There is NO PLAN to eliminate crossfeed and I think you know that. Really, John, such tactics should be beneath you.

In the debate ( https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/webinar-sls-debate-with-john-hunt-rick-boozer-sunday-11-16-14/ ), I explained the reason for the FH delays being due to three F9 cores needed for an FH would have pushed back the launches of contracted F9 customers. Increases in core production should alleviate that problem this year.

“SpaceX would be wise to focus on developing their business as a low-cost launch company to make profits. Let the government do the not for profit extrapolation missions.”
That indeed would be the way to go if Congress would allow NASA to go about doing it in a way that would allow exploration missions to be ACTUALLY done. That being partnerships between NASA and commercial companies without technology restrictions legislatively forced on NASA.

You talk as though it is ironclad fact that if development of SLS is cancelled, the budget money currently allocated to its development will be channeled elsewhere. You say this even though NASA manned vehicle development projects cancelled in the past have NEVER resulted in that outcome.

You also claim it is realistic to expect Congress to give a very large increase to NASA’s budget, even though that has NEVER happened in the past (with the exception of the 1960s moon race). Given the budget restrictions touted by the new Republican majority, that idea can only be described as a pipe dream.

John, I am not going to rehash the debate here. There is no need for me to because anybody listening to the recorded debate knows where I stand and the reasons I have for that stand.

During the debate I would back my arguments up with results from official studies and reports as well as evaluations from members of the NASA Advisory Council, etc. All through the debate you gave no corroborating documented evidence to back up ANY of your stated opinions. In other words, you expected people to accept your opinion solely based on what you said.

In any adversarial discussion, the party that will have the most credence is the one that solidly backs up each assertion with independent proof. I did that repeatedly, time after time, whilst you utterly failed to do that throughout the debate. Not once did you back up any of your statements with solid evidence. In short, John, you know that from any objective standard (going just by hard evidence presented), you lost the debate. Now you are trying to finesse your way out it in the aftermath.

9. John Hunt - December 17, 2014

Bob and Rick both miss the point that the Falcon Heavy and the SLS are in two different payload classes. The fact that the early (and incomplete phase) of the SLS is only in the 70 tonne class doesn’t matter. What is important is the fully developed 130 tonne version. Bob pointed out the delays in the Falcon Heavy test launch and it is looking like that version will not have cross feed as SpaceX is talking about a 45 tonne version.

SpaceX would be wise to focus on developing their business as a low-cost launch company to make profits. Let the government do the not for profit extrapolation missions.

10. rboozer1 - December 17, 2014

John said “all” of the people seriously proposing Moon expeditions say a huge heavy lift vehicle (a la Saturn V or SLS) is necessary. He has apparently forgotten what I told him during the debate regarding proposals by Chris Kraft, Tom Moser and others. These are the guys who designed, developed and implemented the Saturn V and Apollo spacecraft that got American astronauts to the Moon. If they say such a rocket is not longer necessary, that should carry some weight. But like most SLS supporters John quickly forgets any facts that don’t support his favorite rocket.

John Hunt - December 19, 2014

To reference experts in support of ones views is probably something that I neglected. For one Mike Griffin supports SLS/Orion. Dan Adamo (a 30-year-vetran NASA flight dynamics expert) has held that there are serious drawbacks to relying on multiple launches for a moon mission and has pointed out the problems with orbital deports. Even Elon Musk isn’t so much opposed to SLS because of its size but rather he’d like to build his own design which is even larger.

My own view as I have expressed is that SLS is good enough and that there is no consensus for what to do in its place. There various alternative but nothing that has the support of the Congress and the Administration. Therefore we should stay the course until the next Administration and see what develops.

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