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Rand Simberg, Tuesday, 4-14-15 April 15, 2015

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Rand Simberg, Tuesday, 4-14-15


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Guest: Rand Simberg. Topics: SpaceX, ULA, Mars, space policy, Moon N=Mars debate and much 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 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 back Rand Simberg to the program. During the first segment of our 100 minute program, Rand discussed the Falcon 9 launch and barge landing attempt of the first stage. Before he finished his discussion, Dr. Lurio called in and joined in on the speculation as to why the landing was unsuccessful. Both Rand and Charles thought it might be wind but as you will hear, that was just their opinion. Next, the two of them turned to the ULA announcement about the Vulcan rocket and their plans to recover in air from a supersonic parachute using a helicopter. They want to recover the rocket’s main engine. This discussion between Charles and Rand dominated the first segment of the program. Near the end of the first segment, I asked Rand about the ARM and it being redirected to Mars and Phobos. Rand had much to say about this so don’t miss it.

In the second segment, in response to earlier comments made by Rand in the first segment, Sally sent in a note asking if the next NASA administrator might make a difference and actually matter. Again, don’t miss what Rand had to say about this plus bipartisanship and the work of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who wants to change the our space policy to one of having the main purpose to settle space. Rand also said he would personally like to “ban” the phrase space exploration. Listen to his explanation on this point. Rand was asked about the Moon-Mars debate which he thought was absurd given that the issue was not about destinations but getting the needed infrastructure in space so one can go anywhere. Without the infrastructure, even a gravity lab, talking destinations makes no sense. Due to a few listener questions, Rand also had some choice comments for Mars One. Another listener asked Rand what parts of the commercial space industry impressed him the most. This led to a discussion about suborbital flight and markets. Becky asked him about his Transterrestrial blog (http://www.transterrestrial.com) and the non-space portion of it, I asked him about military space and then Tim called to talk about affordable small sat launches and to inquire if we were embarking on a space race over low cost launch opportunities that may be emerging. Rand also talked about the upcoming Space Access Society meeting and the talk he plans to give at the event. Rhonda in Petaluma asked Rand what caused his transition from traditional aerospace to NewSpace. Don’t miss this, it is really interesting.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Rand through his blog or me.



1. DougSpace - April 15, 2015

I support Rand’s distinction between exploration and settlement. He made a very excellent point when he said if you argue for exploration people could legitimately say, “Well why not just send robots”? They will cost less and don’t risk human life.

But I would add two additional distinctions. That is the distinction between development and settlement and also the difference between initial settlement and ultimate settlement.

I think that we should be pursuing development both robotically as well as with humans. For example, I think that we should first send telerobots to attempt to harvest lunar polar ice for propellant before we send humans. Whether they succeed or not, humans should follow the robots because only humans can settle and I think that settlement is a legitimate goal.

As for settlement, there is an important distinction between initial and ultimate settlement. Initial settlement could and should be done with just a few people because of the high risk involved with such a new venture. It will be costly and risky and would benefit from low-cost launch but low-cost launch is not an absolute prerequisite for that.

If one doesn’t fall into the analogy trap of believing that a bare bones, self-sufficient colony requires tens of thousands of people but that the equipment for life support can be produced from local resources by a small, highly trained team, then one can attempt to pursue a small but self-sufficient colony with an initial settlement.

I would also like to point out that a bare-bones, self-sufficient colony does not necessarily require that it be economically profitable. The key requirement is that it is able to supply its own needs based upon its own production whether it is selling to other people or not. The limited analogy would be a small village that supplies all its needs but is so isolated that it doesn’t trade with others. By using this analogy I am not ignoring the huge technologic difference between the two situations.

Yes, ultimate settlements will involve tens of thousands of people and will need large, fully reusable rockets. But let’s pursue a bare-bones self-sufficiency colony first because of the huge value which that represents.

Matt - April 17, 2015

Hi Doug, thanks for that good analogy and vision. You may reconsider also the idea of steering and control robots on Mars from Deimos. May be a dozens of researcher, launched from the Moon base that you sketched, may work on Deimos. The flight from Moon to Deimos needs only small delta-vee and use propellant from Moon. Earth Moon base supplies Mars moon base at Deimos, where ISS derived technology is used.


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