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Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 6-16-15 June 17, 2015

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Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 6-16-15


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Guest:  Bob Zimmerman. Topics: Commercial space historical overview, launch industry, space news, rockets, & 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 Bob Zimmerman back to the program to discuss a variety of commercial space, space news, and related topics.  During the first segment of our 1 hour 56 minute discussion, Bob started out with an historical overview of the progress made in developing the commercial space industry, a U.S. cargo capability to the ISS, and eventually the U.S. capability of carrying astronauts back to the ISS.  He started his timeline in 2004, specifically addressing the time since President Obama came to office.  For almost the entire first segment, Bob noted milestones, progress, company developments, the beginning of competition and much more. Later in the segment, he mentioned what he said was the lack of progress in the suborbital industry during the time period he had been talking about and suggested that the suborbital companies may be missing parts of the market given their continued delays.  He talked about this in more detail during the second segment.  He also talked about human spaceflight (HSF), SLS, Falcon and SpaceX as a game changer, the efforts of Sierra-Nevada to continue on with Dream Chaser, & his opinion that it will likely be the private sector that manages HSF to the Moon and Mars rather than a public program.  We talked about public opinion and space, then Marshall called to ask questions about China, their space program, plus a possible Chinese impact on our space policy.  Bob had much to say about the Chinese program, then he had about an equal amount to say about the Russian program. Sylvester emailed in to also ask about China, specifically if Bob thought we would soon be cooperating with one another in space.  Bob seized this opportunity to make it very clear as to why he disliked international partnerships, instead preferring competition. Before the segment ended, Beth asked Bob for his thoughts on the Moon-Mars debate.


In the second segment, Kristen started us off talking about LightSail.  Bob had much to say about the mission, The Planetary Society, how it was funded, and the fact that it was based around using cubesats.  He then spoke to the success of cubesats and how they are changing aspects of the industry. Bob jumped to Comet 67 P, the Rosetta mission and the Philae Lander.  He used this opportunity to provide an overview of planetary missions starting in 1957.  In talking about the success of planetary missions, he mentioned the Dawn mission to Ceres and Vesta plus many more.  I asked Bob about New Horizons and Pluto. Bob had much to say about Pluto, its moons, & specifically the moon Charon.  Other topics that came up as we neared the close of the show included the Europa mission and an effort to use crowd funding to make a porno film in space. This prompted Bob to say a few words about sex in space, plus he thought the porno film was just a PR stunt.  Before the show ended, Tim in Huntsville asked for Bob to share his thoughts on the company Interorbital Systems.  Bob then turned to the suborbitals having some things to say about Virgin Galactic, Blue Origins, and XCOR. He spoke to the need for redundancy, mentioned possible Stratolaunch problems with Orbital ATK no longer working with them on the rocket, then suggested some things to watch for in the second half of this year and closed out with a summary of key points he made during this program.  Check out Bob’s blog, www.behindtheblack.com.


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




1. J Fincannon - June 19, 2015

Perhaps Mr. Zimmerman was just kidding (or maybe not) about how the makers of the “adult film” should be able to subsidize their work by getting research money because they were advancing the state of knowledge in this area of biological science. Maybe he thinks people will want to conceive in 0 g and thus research will be needed to do this. As indicated in a prior Space Show (http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=470) Dr. Vadim Rygalov says research done in reproduction in rats and other animals in 0 g showed problems in the embryo’s development. So perhaps the government does have a role in preventing this kind of occurance for humans.

2. Emmet Ford - June 18, 2015

Bob Zimmerman cited the Planetary Society’s LightSail project as an example of a space mission launched on private money, without government funds, and he opined that this was a better way to explore space.

It is a cool mission. The Planetary Society is spending about $5 million over three launches. This was the first of those three missions that just flew.

The Planetary Society is going to send NASA a report detailing their light sail findings. The first installment should be a good read. It was an eventful mission, a real roller-coaster and they provided us all with blow by blow descriptions of what was happening every step of the way. Total transparency. The Planetary Society knows how to do public outreach. I think some of their contractors found the experience a bit disconcerting. “The cubesat’s on fire. Again.” I certainly enjoyed it, and I think a lot of us learned a little bit more about cubesats. They seem to reboot a lot, for instance, and apparently that’s a feature.

But the Planetary Society did not actually pay for its spot on that ULA rocket. NASA did, as reported by Doug Messier on May 20, 2015: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/05/20/nasa-pays-launch-planetary-societys-lightsail/

NASA is interested in this promising light sail technology. They also have a program to find free rides for interesting cubesat projects on government rockets. It was NASA that put the deal together with the Air Force, which apparently has its own budding cubesat program. That is how the Planetary Society LightSail found its way onto an Air Force launch.

The next LightSail mission is tentatively scheduled to launch on a Falcon Heavy in 2016. Elon Musk is a former board member of the Planetary Society. I’m sure he’s giving them a good deal, but NASA may paying for that ride as well. I don’t know if their patronage extends to all three flights.

Anyway, it’s all good. It’s a great project and money (public and private) well spent. The US is a great country and the Planetary Society is a great society.

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