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Dr. Robert Brodsky, Friday, 12-7-12 December 8, 2012

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Dr. Robert Brodsky, Friday, 12-7-12


Guest:  Dr. Robert (Bob) Brodsky.   Topics: We discussed his new book, “Catch A Rocket Plane: More Tales from the Cutting Edge & Beyond,” plus his aerospace history & overview.  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. We welcomed Dr. Bob Brodsky back to the show to discuss his new book which you can order at www.amazon.com/Catch-Rocket-Plane-Cutting-Beyond/dp/1467972908/ref=onegiantlea20. Remember, if you buy the book using this URL, Amazon donates to The Space Show/OGLF.  Dr. Brodsky started out by telling us how he came up with the title to his new book, a story which you will find most interesting.  He then told us stories from his book dating from WW2 through the rocket and space age to current times.  During the segment, listeners asked him many questions about our former space program as compared to our program today.  As today was the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, Bob was asked quite a few questions about Apollo, the mood of the country back then, space and the Cold War, and going back to the Moon or other another destination. He talked about his experience on the NERVA nuclear rocket program and why he included a chapter about false starts since so many programs were started, then cancelled by NASA and Congress. Another issue discussed was learning to live on the Moon so we could push further out into space. Bob was asked about the quality of teaching in the earlier years as compared to today.  He talked about ABET which is the accrediting board for engineering education and how that body has changed (lowered) the standards over the years.  Doug called in to ask if we had lost so much of our labor and technical expertise that we might not be able to do an Apollo like mission today.  Note the answer by Dr. Brodsky.  You might be surprised by it.  Bob also advocated the use of cost plus contracting over fixed price contracting because he said without cost plus, the boldness, creativity, risk taking, and out of the box thinking/planning gave way to traditional, conservative, and less pushing of the window in order to avoid financial risks and losses.  He suggested that fixed price contracting produced just the opposite of what we needed from our aerospace industry.  Let us know what you think about Bob’s perspective by posting on the blog.
     In our second segment, our guest told us about a movie he once pitched regarding the terrorist takeover of the ISS.  We also talked about his role with European launch alternatives with pointing systems and sounding rockets.  A listener asked him about ITAR and would it have prevented much of what he was talking about in terms of European sharing of technology early on in our space history. He thought it would have and since our guest said he was a strong proponent of international space cooperation, ITAR is seen as a probable hindrance.  In his concluding statements, Dr. Brodsky said that man was destined to do great things and go into space and settle and live there.  He was optimistic this would happen. He did suggest the 60’s as the greatest space period in our history.
      Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  You can email Dr. Brodsky through me.

Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David, Tuesday, 7-17-12 July 17, 2012

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Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David, Tuesday, 7-17-12


Lessons Learned from the Columbia accident & NASA’s human spaceflight experience

Guests:  Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David.  Topics:  Columbia lessons learned & human spaceflight safety issues.  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 Michael Ciannilli of NASA to the program to discuss lessons learned from the Columbia accident & NASA’s history of human spaceflight. Leonard David of Space.com returned as a co-host for this program.  Our nearly two hour no break discussion started with Michael providing us with an historical overview of the Columbia accident.  We talked about the debris retrieval process & the fact that about 38% of Columbia was retrieved.  Michael was asked about surprises & among the many he mentioned, one in particular dealt with the tile & thermal impact showing burning on the inside & how that was a clue to what happened to Columbia.  Michael then listed several lessons learned.  When I asked if he could prioritize the items he mentioned, he said they were all important.  We talked about the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), return to flight, incorporating lessons learned, & more.  Leonard asked about the idea of NASA HSF safety excesses & we asked Michael if lessons learned & HSF safety issues were shared with both the private sector companies & the Russians.  I asked Michael about educational outreach & he had some interesting things to say about the international internet audience as well as the local audience.  The subject of urban legends came up in the outreach discussion & we honed in on the idea of the possibility of a rescue mission.  You do not want to miss this important discussion.  Other issues discussed included the foam problem, Leonard asked about the “bone matrix” he saw in use at the CAIB hearings, & I mentioned the need to really know & understand the hardware given our recent intimate visit with Endeavour.  Cultural issues were a part of this discussion, including the risk of workforce lulls & the need to avoid complacency.  Michael cited tile issues as an example going back to STS 1 and studying all missions to really understand tile concerns.  One email dealt with NASA risk aversion & some space enthusiasts saying that to open the space frontier we need to “kill more people.”  Michael addressed these issues, going over the NASA mission & imperatives, their responsibilities, and the risks of all sorts of consequences coming to life.  We talked about individual worker responsibility and accountability with Michael giving us both NASA and personal insights into this subject.  We then talked about the balancing act required in weighing the risk trades of cutting costs, cutting corners, taking more risks, taking less risks, etc.  He suggested private companies will go through a similar process and talked about the consequences of decisions which can be devastating with the loss of a crew to the termination of a program or the loss of the company.  Michael explained the Criticality One status and what it means in the risk analysis process.  Another listener asked if shuttles still had life left in them at the time of retirement. The short answer was yes but don’t miss what Michael has to say about the condition of space shuttle fleet at the time of retirement.  Another issue discussed dealt with trying to find a lower cost way of operating shuttle and dealing with all their infrastructure without compromising safety.  Near the end of the program, we took a Southern California call asking about potentially different standards for government astronauts and private-sector astronauts.  I was asked to lead off with my opinion which I did from a business liability perspective, then Michael and Leonard discussed the subject. We had lots to say about informed consent, litigation, & the uncertainties inherent when involved in a jury trial.  As we were winding down the program, Michael provided us with his closing comments, then I added in my own comments that focused on the sports inspirational speaker, Ray Lewis, linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, who gives a terrific inspirational speech to teams around the country, “Pissed Off For Greatness.”  You can find lots of information about this by using Google for his name or the speech title.  Essentially, this is about not accepting mediocrity in what you do & I extrapolated it to space.  HSF workers, regardless of being with NASA or any company as well as others involved in the space field cannot accept mediocrity.  Being pissed off for greatness implies that if you are not pissed off for greatness, then you willing to settle for being mediocre in what you do.  Michael, Leonard and I talked about this at the end of the program.  I hope you will concur with me that extrapolating this inspirational sports talk to space fits.  Michael closed us out by saying it takes courage to stand up and say something if you believe something is off or not right in the program.  He further said it takes a lot to challenge the bureaucracy and stand up but that we all have to do it when the situation arises.

Please post your comments and questions on The Space Show blog URL above.  If you want to email Michael or Leonard, do so through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will forward it to the person of your choice.

ISU Space & Media Panel, KSC VIP Tour Report, Friday, 7-6-12 July 6, 2012

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ISU Space & Media Panel, KSC VIP Tour Report, Friday, 7-6-12


Guests:  Dr. David Livingston; Jim Lewis & Bill Allen in the second segment.  Topics: ISU Space & Media Panel, KSC special VIP tour report.  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.  During the first segment of this program, I talked about my recent experience as moderator of the International Space University (ISU) Summer Session Space and Media Panel.  I would also like to refer you to an article on the panel with pictures at www.americaspace.org?p=22002.  Panel members were Irene Klotz, Bill Harwood, Leonard David, & Jim Lewis.  We talked about various journalistic, media, alternative and new media issues, science and space reporting issues for 90 minutes, then took questions from the ISU students &visitors for half an hour.  I highlighted many of the questions asked of the panel, some of the discussion topics, & student questions.

In the second segment, I was joined by Jim Lewis & Bill Allen.  Jim commented on the earlier media panel discussion, but we focused on the KSC tour.  We described what we saw on Pad 39 A, the shuttle control room, and in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) with the crawler, the mobile launcher, & the shuttle bays.  We went inside Endeavour where astronaut Nicole Stott kindly showed us around, answered our questions, explained the crew cabin & taught us Space Shuttle 101. We commented on just how tight the living conditions were in the shuttle & how hard it was to sit in the command & pilot seats.  Doing so in a space suit & with the shuttle in the vertical position for launch seemed an impossible task.  Much of the equipment had been removed on both decks, especially the seats (other than the command & pilot seats) plus the galley was gone, so we actually saw Endeavour with room to spare than when outfitted for flight & seven crew members.  We walked around Endeavour, inspected the tiles, the payload bay, the SMEs (they had been removed) & I must say that despite seeing shuttle launches in person & on television, seeing it in person as we did gave us all a different perspective on current HSF policy issues.  Jim, Bill & I talked about the human cost because winding down this program did & still does have a human cost & face to it.  We also talked about the capacity shuttle gave us that we have given up since none of the new space vehicles can compare to what shuttle was able to do.  I commented on the engineering marvel of much of the HSF infrastructure I saw & stood on, in the VAB, Pad 39A, the escape chutes to the Rubber Room & more. We saw the brand new Constellation control room which was finished, & is now in stand down mode pending possible modifications for commercial opportunities.  We saw the shuttle & Apollo control rooms of which the latter is being remodeled for the changing program. An amazing NASA workforce team showed us around.  We were all very impressed by this space workforce, making it even more difficult to think about so many exceptional people who have lost their jobs & more. While I know many of you will disagree with some of my shuttle & space workforce comments, seeing it in person & talking to the people involved, well, its very different from hearing about it on TV, reading an article, an op-ed, or hearing people talk about it at a space conference.

Post your comments/questions on the blog. If you want to email Jim, Bill, or anyone from our media panel, send the note to me & I’ll forward it on your behalf.