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Open Lines, Sunday, 3-29-15 March 30, 2015

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Open Lines, Sunday, 3-29-15


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Guest:  Open Lines.  Topics: We discussed a wide variety of space news and current topics of interest.  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 our final Open Lines show for March 2015.  During the first segment of the two hour show, I suggested topics addressing the modification of the NASA ARM with the boulder, the NASA proposed cancellation of the LRO and Opportunity missions. I read an email from BJohn about the ISS and our inability to get humans to Mars.  Michael Listner was the first caller. He addressed many topics including Russian-NASA ISS negotiations, Mars one, and I asked him about the topic for the Monday show regarding Tony Milligan and his new book, “Nobody Owns The Moon.  Doug was the next caller to talk about the NASA modified ARM and planetary defense, Mars One, space tourism, and then he promoted his special COTS 2 segment at the upcoming Space Access Conference at the end of this month in Phoenix.

In the second segment, Kris was our first caller and he addressed the ethical and legal issues mentioned around the Tony Milligan Monday show and his book and said China and Russia would ignore such issues which would only serve to restrain America and the west.  I asked Kris some follow up questions from our nuclear discussion last Friday and when I mentioned the Outer Space Treaty, he dismissed it as not being that effective with China and Russia should they choose to violate provisions in it.  Dwayne called to provide the details around the NASA ARM mission regarding the boulder & the baggie options. This is a good and comprehensive discussion so don’t miss it. Dwayne also mentioned Mars One and its PR machine, then he clarified some comments I made on the last Hotel Mars show regarding the Air Force Super Strypi rail small satellite launcher.  We talked in general about the small satellite launch industry as well.  Ft. Worth John was our final caller. He clarified some of his previous remarks regarding the Falcon 9 and the use of side boosters.  We also talked some about the proposed NASA budget leading to the cancellation  of LRO and Opportunity.

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



1. Luis Reyna - March 31, 2015

Appart from all the invaluable science LRA has conducted already and could potentially conduct if it was not to be cancelled, can it be used as an exploration asset for other missions to the surface, be them robotic or manned, as a communications relay or something of the sorts? I have no idea.

Also if NASA decided that it will indeed cancel the missions, could they be transferred to a University or other organization, possibly partly funded by groups with interest in the Moon and Mars?

2. Michael J. Listner (@ponder68) - March 31, 2015

In response to Doug’s frustration about my apparent cynicism about space tourism, I will admit that I am jaded when it comes to the topic and have my own frustrations about it. It’s not that I don’t think it’s going to happen, but rather I have a different definition of what it will take to achieve it. To that end, there are a lot of groups making a lot of promises that have no basis in reality and given the concept a black eye when they turn out to be non-viable nor had the chance to be so.

Personally, I am about results and a grounded viewpoint, which is difficult to find in the new space community. Before I take on a client in the consulting realm, I make sure they’re grounded about the realities, including the costs and the legal and regulatory issues involved. These three factors alone are seldom taken as serious as they are by the new space community, including the tourism branch. So, if I’m a Debbie Downer, it’s because there is a lot of chaff in the new space community, and I sort through a lot of it to find some wheat.

DDAY - April 3, 2015

I didn’t really understand those comments at all. Maybe I missed something. But we should all remember that in 2004 many people were predicting a flourishing suborbital tourism market within a few years. We are over a decade later and there is currently no suborbital tourism industry at all. Nothing.

It’s not that hard to find evidence of this. You can dig through the archives at places like transterrestrial.com and hobbyspace.com, go back a decade, and find plenty of people predicting a flourishing suborbital tourism industry as soon as 2007 or 2008. (Michael, feel free to go dig up that evidence that will document your skepticism. It’s not that hard.)

So, yeah, “show me” is not an unreasonable demand.

3. DDAY - March 30, 2015

As I noted on the show, one of the problems with option A was that there is significant uncertainty with the size of small asteroids. Thus, they could go to what they think is going to be an 8 meter asteroid and discover that it is actually 16 meters, and thus too big for the baggie. The mission would then fail.

In addition to the uncertainty factor there’s another very difficult issue–it is virtually impossible to detect asteroids at that small size. At present most detected asteroids are on the order of half a kilometer or more. The only way to detect a really really small one now is if it comes really close to the Earth and we get lucky and see it. Without that luck, the only other way to detect something that small is to launch a space-based telescope and conduct a search for a few years. That’s essentially a $500 million mission and NASA is not funding a survey telescope.

So with option B what they are planning on doing is going to a known larger asteroid, presumably one that has already been visited by a robotic spacecraft like Hyabusa-1, and go to a known bolder and pick that up. As I noted on the show, NASA selected option B over option A (the baggie) for three reasons:

-the grabbing arm technology can be used for other things (what NASA calls “extensibility”)
-they get five attempts
-they have a bigger launch window (which I think is linked to the issue I mentioned above about it being impossible to detect really small rocks–they might have only one shot and if it’s raining on launch day that shot is gone)

4. Kirk - March 30, 2015

Early in the show David asked about the ARM mission, “Why are they scaling it back to a boulder rather than an asteroid, or are they just playing word games?”

Dwayne Day called in later in the show with an excellent explanation of why they chose to go with option “B” (boulder extracted from a large asteroid) instead of option “A” (asteroid in a baggy), but regarding word games, I feel that option “B” is much less of a word game than option “A”.

They’ve never been talking about grabbing anything bigger than a boulder. The choice was between an 8 meter maximum diameter free-floating boulder-size mini-asteroid which they would put in a baggy or a 4 meter maximum diameter boulder which they would pick up from the surface of a much larger asteroid. Of the two choices, visiting the larger asteroid seems a much more interesting one, plus that plan gets to demonstrate the gravity tractor. This is enough for me to hope that the robotic portion of the AMR mission proceeds, whereas I had considered option “A” a waste of xenon. I’ve been very surprised at the number of people who have expressed their disappointment in the choice, and I wonder if they misunderstood the size of the asteroid the be bagged by option “A”.

The crewed portion of either mission will be underwhelming, but with plan “A”, had it flown, the crewed portion would have been a public relations disaster. There are a lot of people who have a passing interested in space (think back about the Rosetta & Philae excitement), but who don’t pay attentions to the details in advance. Imagine what they would have thought after tuning in to see astronauts taking an EVA on an “asteroid” which, at 8 meters, turns out to be not much bigger than the Orion capsule! At least with option “B”, when they watch the EVA on the 4 meter boulder, it will be only a denouement coming three years after the exciting robotic capture of boulder itself, and they won’t be surprised at the small size of the rock since they’ll have seen it before.

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