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Don Nelson, Tuesday, 11-3-15 November 4, 2015

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Don Nelson, Tuesday, 11-3-15


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Guest: Don Nelson.  Topic:  Development of a fleet of privately operated Commercial Space Shuttle Freighters (CSS Freighter) for commercial space, NASA & Air Force.  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 Don Nelson back to the show for this 90 minute discussion regarding his Commercial Space Shuttle Freighter (CSS Freighter) concept.  During the first segment, Don provided us with an overview of our current launch and human spaceflight situation, he talked about safety and reliability, then he started describing his CSS Freighter Concept.  You can learn more about it at his website, www.spacetran21.org.  He spent time explaining why wings were needed despite the common misconception that they become worthless mass in space.  He said over and over again that if one does the trades, wings come out far better than carrying additional propellant for a vertical landing.  He also said he was a strong proponent of full reusability, not just first stage reusability.  In response to several questions, he said his CSS Freighter was modeled after the shuttle but with new upgrade designs and technology though to save money and reduce development time, the freighters were to be based on existing technology.  He had much to say about the difficulty they had in upgrading space shuttle systems so this time around he said upgrades would be modular and as close to plug and play as possible.  His idea is that the freighters will be built and operated by the private sector.  He suggested the extensive use of composite materials to save on mass and to use reusable Space Shuttle Main Engines (SMEs).  He referenced the Air Force X-37B program, he talked about the advance state of the thermal protection systems (TPS) for this top secret spacecraft suggesting it would be the TPS of choice for the freighters.  Our guest was challenged in both segments regarding other reusability options including the advancement toward success represented by SpaceX and the Falcon 9.  Don said it was first stage only, he was talking about full vehicle reusability and making the case for his approach with wings.  Don’t miss the challenges and the replies. Don also spelled out the advantages of horizontal as compared to vertical vehicle landing regarding reusability.

In the second segment, BJohn asked about the Soviet version of the shuttle, the Buran.  Don mostly talked about lessons learned by their not having a reusable space shuttle main engine (SME).  Don was asked about international vehicle participation in his freighter project. He said not with this Congress and referenced our policy on not talking with China.  Don was also asked for the rational for doing this and he focused on competition.  Make sure you hear this discussion.  He said he was including the Air Force in his plan given the rapid turnaround time for the vehicle (five days).  He explained the Air Force market in detail and is in touch with key Air Force people.  In addition, he has made presentations to members of Congress and their staffs plus key people at NASA.  I asked him how they responded to the concept.  You don’t want to miss what he said about that.  Alex asked an email question about launch pads and NASA having altered or gotten rid of the shuttle launch pads.  Don said launch pads were not an issue, even suggested foreign launch sites, but did say KSC was a prime launch location in the U.S.  Don attacked expendable rockets over and over again in both segments so Ben from Seattle pressed him as to why his reusable freighter would be more reliable than an expendable rocket.  He said each flight of an expendable rocket was a test flight.  Our guest received a questions about suborbital flight evolving to orbital flight, listeners asked about private Bigelow space stations, and one listener wanted his thoughts on the Skylon.  Tim called in and talked about chemical rockets and rocket fuel. He also inquired about scramjets and Big Dumb Boosters.  Doug called in to challenge his reusability comments citing the Falcon 9 to make his case that wings were wasted mass.  Don’t miss this discussion.  When asked if he thought things would change as a result of the coming elections, he suggested that a new congress would likely terminate SLS given our budget & SLS problems.  Don’t miss the balance of his concluding comments.

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

Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 9-18-12 September 19, 2012

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Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Tuesday, 9-18-12


Guest:  Robert (Bob) Zimmerman.  Topics:  Commercial crew, space policy, commercial space and more.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Bob Zimmerman back to the program to discuss a variety of space news topics and issues including commercial crew, commercial space, space politics, SLS, and more.  For those of you familiar with Bob Zimmerman on The Space Show, you will not be disappointed by this vintage-like Zimmerman discussion.  In our first segment of this slightly more than 2 hour program, we talked about the recent congressional hearings on commercial crew safety.  Bob’s response to these hearings and the commercial crew safety issues won’t surprise those of you familiar with Bob on these subjects.  Bob then talked about SLS and I mentioned the NASA pamphlet/booklet they gave out at the AIAA Space 2012 showing missions and objectives for SLS and more.  You can download this report at www.nasa.gov/exploration/whyweexplore/voyages-report.html. Bob also talked about NASA budgets from his perspective of needing budget cuts for the country as a whole given our $16 trillion debt. Later in the segment, we talked about some of the developing & emerging companies & their vehicles, Sierra Nevada, XCOR, Virgin, and then we talked about possible new spaceports under consideration/development.  Bob then took us to the subject of sequestration which is set for Jan. 1, 2013 unless the law is reversed.  Bob spent considerable time telling us why these cuts are not as bad as the media and the agencies make them out to be.  See if you agree with his analysis.  As the segment ended, we talked about planetary science missions with NASA in the budget context along with the budget consequences of continuing SLS.
        In our second segment, Bob continued talking about SLS along with heavy lift, including the proposed Falcon Heavy.  Listeners began emailing and calling with comments about space politics, policy, and heavy lift as compared to smaller rockets doing the same mission.  I then provided everyone with a glimpse of our planned rocket building webinar set for Oct. 28 and talked about how one costs out and plans a rocket for the mission at hand as you cannot just say heavy lift bad, smaller rockets good or something similar.  I provided a quick and very simple overview of the process used in doing this type of analysis and trade study (running the numbers).  If this interests you, don’t miss our Oct. 28th webinar on this entire process. We are using an interactive spreadsheet so you can design your own rocket and mission and compare it to any other rocket with known parameters.  I suspect I was not completely convincing regarding heavy lift as compared to smaller lift rockets and the mission planning process but listen and see what you think about the discussion. As the discussion continued, one of the points I was making about matching the rocket to the mission seemed to get attention.  Also, I made it clear this was not about bad and good.  Let us know your thoughts by posting them on the blog.  Later in the segment, Bob talked extensively about the private sector being preferable to the government doing things related to space.  We also talked about space telescopes, Cis-lunar development and more.  We concluded with Bob pointing out what is still ahead for space during the balance of the year and with the developing companies.
         Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.  If you want to email Bob, you can do so through me or through his excellent blog, Behind The Black (http://behindtheblack.com).