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Tom Olson, 2014 Year In Review, Tuesday, 12-30-14 December 31, 2014

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Tom Olson, 2014 Year In Review, Tuesday, 12-30-14


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Guest:  Tom Olson.  Topics:  Space year 2014 in review.  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 Tom Olson back to the show for his annual end of the year review show for the space year at hand, 2014.  During the first segment of our last program for 2014, I asked Tom for positive memorable events in 2014 .  Tom came well prepared for this question.  Do you have the same memorable events list or a different one?  Let us know on the blog.  As Tom was going through his list of memorable positive events and developments for 2014, we took some email questions about Blue Atlas, the Delta IV and human rating it, and of course ULA.  Another listener wanted to know what Tom thought of the idea of a prize for an on orbiting demo propellant depot and fuel transfer.  Toward the end of the first segment, Dr. Lurio called in and talked about fuel depots, markets for them, NASA and more. We also talked about Virgin Galactic and SpaceShip2 plus what may be forthcoming from the NTSB report when it becomes available.  Antares was also discussed before the break.

In the second segment, Jeff from Tucson called in about a possible Netscape Moment.  Tom did not think much of a Netscape Moment, instead he talked about the concept of space scalable.  I got in on the discussion as did others and this led us to our discussing reusability with SpaceX and would it be a game changer.  Later in the segment, more was said about the Delta IV, ULA, Atlas and even SLS.  For 2015, Tom talked about Bigelow Aerospace getting their modules up to the ISS.  He also talked about Dragon V2 and Falcon Heavy.  In addition, Tom mentioned Power Beaming test for SSP in space beaming power from point to point but in space.  Of course SLS and Orion came up. Tom is not supportive of it, Dr. Lurio called in who is not supportive of it and holding up the fort for it was our friend SLS John.  The latter part of the show was an ongoing give and take with Lurio, Tom and SLS John highly engaged in a back and forth but as you will hear, there were no winners.  Tom and I did a bit of reminiscing because we go back with one another for more than a decade.  We wished everyone a very Happy New Year and a great 2015.  And remember, “y’all come back for more in 2015!”

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach Tom Olson or any of the callers or emailiers through me.


1. Rick Kwan - January 4, 2015

A couple of notes (now that I’ve finally caught up on the podcasts)…

1. Early in the show, Tom looked forward to an Earth-like planet in habitable zone. A possible candidate was found in 2014: Kepler-186f. It is about 500 light-years from Earth. Radius is 110% of Earth radius (i.e., just 11% greater). But depending on the composition, which Kepler has no way of knowing, its mass can be anywhere from 32% to 377% of Earth mass.

BTW, Kepler seems to now be looking elsewhere along the ecliptic. New planets are starting to show up from this region. (Keep in mind, Kepler is just using the “transit” method, which depends on lucky solar system orientation relative to the observer.)

2. Late in the show, in response to John Hunt, Tom questioned the need for Orion if it is primarily to ferry people between a deep space vehicle and Earth. Why not just use Dragon V2? Answer: the heat shield may not take it. (There might also be avionics/GNC issues.)

Whether it is from the Moon or points beyond, re-entry speeds are far higher than from low Earth orbit, which leads to higher re-entry temperatures. Basically, this is free fall from the Moon or beyond. The delta V between the Moon and LEO is roughly 4 km/sec. LEO to ground is about 7.8 km/sec. This is not simply a delta V burn followed by rendezvous in LEO to a waiting capsule. Not even Apollo did that. Basically the mission has to take the re-entry vehicle with it, but get better use out of it.

Could Dragon do it with an improved heat shield? Maybe. But you’d probably want more of it for more ablation. It is also possible to burn off some speed via propulsion. Using the SuperDraco engines might be possible; but there are interesting issues of additional propellant and where/how to store it (in the trunk? over weeks or months?). You might be better off with a propulsion unit designed for the trunk, and then discarding it.

If it’s really coming back from deep space, the vehicle needs to accommodate interplanetary comms, nav, and associated power that haven’t been needed since Apollo. There’s also greater temperature variation, more radiation, longer duration for parts even if humans spend most of their time in a habitat module. Theoretically, a bunch of this should fall out of the Mars Colonial Transport mission analysis.

But if you were to ask me which is more feasible — Orion/SLS or MCT/Dragon V3 — I couldn’t tell you.

2. Andy Hill - January 4, 2015

I think it will be interesting to see how Boeing is going to fulfil its crew contract with NASA if its forced to retire the Atlas 5 because of the RD180 engine.

Not sure what the time frame is for completion but if they are forced to go to an Atlas 6 with a pair of Blue origin engines (the one I’ve read about has about half the thrust of a RD180) this is going to take much longer than SpaceX and possibly not finish until after the ISS gets deorbited.

Perhaps they can continue using the RD180 on Atlas for NASA as they would be considered civilian launches and my understanding was it was going to be prohibited from military launches only.

3. Kirk - January 4, 2015

Tom mentioned having seen cockpit video from SpaceShip2, which Charles Lurio questioned him about, saying he didn’t think any had been released. I’m wondering if this is a false memory generated from the description given in the NTSB briefing. (I know I sometimes confuse whether I’ve read something or watched it.)

Has anyone seen any video from the final SS2 flight?

I’d also be interested in watching cockpit video from any SS2 flight. This video of their second powered flight includes the cockpit audio recording but gives a tail view.

4. DDAY - January 1, 2015

I think you should stop referring to John as “SLS John.” John is a smart guy who talks about a lot of different subjects and it’s not fair to reduce him to only one thing.

Michael J. Listner - January 2, 2015

It’s all in good fun Dwayne. Heck, I’m “Debbie Downer” and accept it in the spirit of fun that it is intended; good, clean fun.

DDAY - January 2, 2015

It’s gotten old. And John seems like too nice a guy to complain.

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