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Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12 August 4, 2012

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Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1828-BWB-2012-08-03.mp3

Guest:  Cristina Chaplain.  Topics:  Government Accountability Office (GAO) and its work for DOD military space, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and NASA.  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 Cristina Chaplain to the program to discuss with us how the GAO works and what it does for space and NASA along with the DOD and MDA at the request of Congress.  Ms. Chaplain started with an overview of the GAO, its Congressional mandate followed by the use of examples to illustrate how the GAO operates.  Our guest referenced the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA programming, & the fact that GAO investigations/audits are meant to answer the specific question being asked by Congress.  As you will hear during the show, this is important because the organization only addresses the question being asked regardless of it being the right question.  Make sure you note this discussion as it will likely impact how you process news reports about GAO reports in areas that interest you.  My suggestion is to go directly to the GAO website, www.gao.gov, find the report in question, then check to see what the GAO is answering in terms of the mandate given them by Congress.  During our initial segment, we discussed, the GAO Cost Estimating Guide and their Best Practices Guide. Cristina talked about the new EELV July 2012 study, EVOLVED EXPENDABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy.  You can find this study at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-822. Ms. Chaplain also talked about the Bid Protest process, then I asked about GAO audits/investigations & about the new private space companies, SpaceX and the emerging new industry.  I also inquired about GAO findings regarding the use of the FAR contract as opposed to the SAA.  This is a most interesting discussion & analysis.  Later in the segment, Cristina received a question about the GAO role in the DOD EELV block buy program and if they considered the impact on the competition.

In the second segment, we talked about Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) & the GAO analysis, conclusions & FY 13 budget cuts.  This led us to talking about mission and program goals & is the project in question meeting these goals.  Return to the Moon and Constellation came up as did the Shuttle cancellation, along with questions pertaining to the MDA.  Whistle blowing was an important part of these discussions. Our final topics included vertical integration, suppliers, quality control, and the SLS program.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to email our guest, you can do so at chaplainc@gao.gov. You can also subscribe to GAO reports, including their specific space, defense, science & technology reports, www.gao.gov/subscribe/index.php.

Mark Whittington, Sunday, 2-26-12 February 26, 2012

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Mark Whittington, Sunday, 2-26-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1721-BWB-2012-02-26.mp3

Guest: Mark Whittington.  Topics: Space Budgets, policy, & politics.  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 Mark Whittington back to the show for this 2.5 hour wide ranging discussion on space budgets, the economy, space policy and space politics, plus economic issues facing the nation and others around the world.  We also talked about space perspectives of all those running for president including President Obama and the Republican party challengers.  Mark talked about two article he wrote that were pertinent to our discussion.  These articles are (1) “Moon Base Supporters Struggle to Justify the Project:”

www.examiner.com/space-news-in-houston/moon-base-supporters-struggle-to-justify-the-project; and (2) “A Lunar Exploration Reading List for Mitt Romney:”

www.examiner.com/space-news-in-houston/a-lunar-exploration-reading-list-for-mitt-romney.  In our first segment of 45 minutes, we talked about Texas space politics & redistricting, the Johnson Space Center, & the proposed FY 13 budget.  Mark suggested Congress would rewrite most of the budget but that the Senate would likely not pass a budget so we would end up on CR.  I asked Mark how that would lead to programs being cancelled such as ExoMars if we are still on CR as those programs are embedded in the CR from year to year.  Mark described the process through administrative acts by NASA, Congress, or the President re cancellation, and what the Appropriations Committee would have to do to avoid them. For the most part, more money would need to be found for NASA but that was not likely. Mark talked about what constitutes commercial saying that for something to be really commercial, it has to be able to fail. We compared today’s commercial space programs to gov. programs in terms of Mark’s criteria.  Listeners asked about SLS & Orion, wondering if it & when SLS would be cancelled. The idea of a lunar base was discussed in light of the comments made a few weeks ago in the Florida debate by Newt.  Mark also talked about what he thought might be the space policy of the other candidates though not that much is known other than for Newt, Mitt, and President Obama.  Mark talked about cutting out other budgetary items to make room for a quality space program & he highlighted the high speed rail program.

In our long second segment, Marshall called with a question about the original Mercury astronauts still alive.  We  talked some about human factors, microgravity, and life support issues.  Listeners asked about the Chinese space program & their military buildup.  Here, I referenced the recent congressional testimony of Ronald Burgess, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  The article I referenced is at http://bigthink.com/ideas/42630.  Mark spoke at length about exploration, citing his favorite history story involving Prince Henry The Navigator of Portugal. Jim asked Mark that if he believed commercial space was the best path forward & that SLS was a bad idea, how would he go about getting more support for commercial space even at the expense of SLS.  Mark offered some concrete ideas in response to Jim’s question. John from Billings sent in a few notes & then later called to talk about why there is such an argument about SRBs as compared to liquid rocket motors.  Challenger was mentioned along with Constellation but mainly Mark said that people’s behavior tends to find ways to support their beliefs. Terry, another Texan like Mark, called to ask why Sen. Hutchinson so strongly opposes commercial space.  Mark offered a pretty good answer.  Risk taking, more on SLS, Dream Chaser & the CST 100 were discussed along with the new project, Stratolaunch. As our program drew to a close, I asked Mark to summarize space policy for 2012 which he did do but then more questions came in.  Becky wanted Mark to connect the dots vis a vis our economy & how this might impact NASA & all space development.  This led to quite a little economic discussion with Mark, myself, and Dr. Jurist who called in about that time.  As usual, I went off on my rant about space as an investment, not an expense.  Jack got in the last word asking for three key events impacting space for 2012 other than the election.  Mark said the upcoming Space X flight, what Congress does with the budget, and the planned Chinese mission later this year.  In his concluding remarks, Mark talked about the economic options facing the country & he left us with a few points to consider.  He urged us to participate in Town Hall meetings and ask the candidates space questions.

If you have comments/questions please post them The Space Show blog.  Marks blog, Curmudgeons Corner, is at http://curmudgeons.blogspot.com.

Dr. Jeff Bell, Monday, 2-20-12 February 21, 2012

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Dr. Jeff Bell, Monday, 2-20-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1717-BWB-2012-02-20.mp3

Guest:  Dr. Jeff Bell.  Topics:  Dr. Bell’s assessment of NASA, the science missions, human spaceflight, the Russian space problems, & Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories.  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 Dr. Jeff Bell back to the program for his assessment of space today in theUnited States, along with the problems facing the Russian space industry and the Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories as to why the mission failed.  Those familiar with Dr. Bell and his Space Show programs will not be disappointed as this two hour plus discussion is vintage Jeff Bell.  Dr. Bell started with an assessment of the problems over the last year and half or so with the Russian space industry and its management.  Jeff does a good job of summarizing their history of manufacturing, technology, and engineering problems going back to the time of Sergei Korolev.  He also shares with us his experiences working with the Russians on the Phobos 88 mission.  He said typical characteristics of Russian missions leading to problems include being too ambitious, costly for their budgets, and the labor allocated to the projects.  He suggested that we in theU.S. do the same thing and cited MSL and Curiosity as an example.  He had much to say about the early Soviet Venus probes and how their data was widely discounted outside of theSoviet Union. He then said Space X might be overextending and he cited several ongoing Space X projects which might distract from their primary mission at hand which is to get Falcon and Dragon operational.  Listeners asked about the Russian problems driving customers away from doing business withRussia in favor of ULA in theU.S. Here, Dr. Bell had much to say about ULA pricing, overhead costs without NASA sharing them, and more.  He also mentioned what was happening to Delta 2 given the GPS system needing larger rockets as an example of the impact of government policy/spending in space industries.  Dr. Bell turned to the latest Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories for the mission failure.  At the end of this segment, Dr. Bell talked about the JWST & Curiosity in terms of overly complex and costly missions.

In the second segment, Jeff talked about the Newt space policy suggestions and the idea of the Moon as the 51st state.  He had much to say about the ridicule in the media and was not surprised by it.  He used this as an example to say reality “conflicts with the space cadet world view.”   In talking about Mars missions, he said people had been conned by the Mars theory of life stories and promoters.  He said that Mars and HSF were not worth it.  Several listeners called in to debate Jeff on these comments but Jeff took no prisoners.  He then talked about the ISS and its less than full utilization and that the entire idea of HSF had come and gone.  At one point in response to a listener question/comment, Dr. Bell said that all Zubrin offered was a 60’s program!  Jeff did have good things to say about the science and robotic missions, said our planet exploration would be with robots, not humans, and that we needed more missions like the Kepler Space Telescope.  He repeated throughout the discussion that nothing useful has come form HSF nor would it.  He offered that the basic technology was from the70’s and had not changed.  He said overall interest in space had declined since Apollo.  In his closing comments, he said he was still hopeful that NewSpace would decrease the launch costs as that would be a game changer.

If you have questions/comments for Dr. Jeff Bell, post them on The Space Show blog URL above.

James (Jim) Muncy, Sunday, 2-19-12 February 20, 2012

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James (Jim) Muncy, Sunday, 2-19-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1716-BWB-2012-02-19.mp3

 

Guest:  James (Jim) Muncy.  Topics:  FAA Reauthorization Act, HSF regulation, the NASA FY 13 budget, SLC, Commercial Crew, & 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 Jim Muncy back to the program for a comprehensive two plus hour discussion on a variety of important topics including the FAA Reauthorization Act, the FY 13 proposed budget, SLS, commercial crew, ISS utilization, and much more.  We started out discussing the three year renewal of the 2004 Act that minimized HSF regulation to afford the industry the opportunity to get started, obtain real time safety information, and to do better and more accurate downstream safety regulation as it evolves.  During this discussion, Jim had much to say about flight safety for the crew, participants, and third parties.  Next, we jumped into Jim’s perspective on the FY 13 budget proposal for NASA.  He said it did a fairly good job of balancing competing interests and pressures, including the continued support of congressional favorites such as SLS, Orion, and the JWST.  Much of this first hour long segment was about the budget process, why NASA gets the amount of money it receives, why congress does not do more for NASA per the wishes of many in our community, and that the NASA budget likely does a good job of representing the public’s interest in these programs based on the feedback received from constituents by our elected representatives.  Later in the segment, Jim focused in on the ORS, the STP program, and potential sequestration cuts due early next year, and fuel depots as an alternative to heavy lift.

In the second longer segment, Jerry called in and the conversation changed to selecting only one commercial crew provider when we really should have multiple vehicles.  Boeing was talked about as a commercial company and the potential selected company.  Jack sent us an email asking Jim for his opinion on the three 2012 tipping points for NewSpace. He also asked about cubesats and the NASA $2-million NanoSat dedicated launcher prize.  Kim emailed us about the Mars program cuts and Jim had much to say about this and how the FY 13 budget was being allocated. Listeners asked about the Falcon Heavy, space vision, Newt’s space program, and even the UN space treaties.  As the program was drawing to a close, Jim again talked about SLS and its killing the budget along with the JWST.  When asked if other national space agencies were trying to open the frontier and develop commercial space, he said none were even trying.  At the end, he said the success of the upcoming Space X flight to the ISS will be a game changer and this will show that commercial space development is the best path to be on for the future of the space industry.

Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog per above.  You can email Jim at james.muncy@polispace.com.

 

Dr. Jeff Bell, Friday, 12-9-11 December 9, 2011

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Dr. Jeff Bell, Friday, 12-9-11

(Note: This interview aired live on 11/30/11)

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1669-BWB-2011-12-09.mp3

GuestSearch:  Dr. Jeff Bell.  Topics:  Phobos Grunt mission, space policy, commercial crew, rocket reusability & 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. The Space Show/OGLF is now engaged in its annual fundraising drive. Please see & act upon our appeal at https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/space-show-2011-fundraising-campaign . Please note that this program was recorded live on Nov. 30, 2011 and is being archived today, Dec. 9, 2011.  We welcomed Dr. Jeff Bell back to the show for a wide ranging discussion on multiple topics starting with the troubled Russian Phobos Grunt Mission.  This Space Show  program is vintage Jeff Bell with something to say about most everything, hard hitting, critical, take no prisoners, and of course, thought provoking. Dr. Bell started our discussion talking about the Phobos-Grunt Mission.  To put it in context with Russian lunar & planetary missions, he gave us a brief history of the Russian exploration program starting in 1958.  This is an interesting history lesson you do not want to miss. In bringing the history current to Phobos Grunt, the problems faced by the Russian program seem a bit clearer.  We then talked about some of the many space blog comments with suggestions for rescuing or saving the mission and he totally debunked them.  Jeff mentioned shuttle rescues, X-37B rescues, even Virgin suborbital rescues.  He also mentioned some of the conspiracy theories out there (he spent more time on them later in our discussion),  finger pointing the blame for the mission problems.  Next, Dr. Bell addressed the recent SpaceShipTwo drop test that was a problem and he wasted no time in stating what is wrong with the SS2 design as well as what he said was a problematic track record for the project.  He also had much to say about the use of composites and fundamental design flaws.  Space debris issues came up and Dr. Bell referenced USA 193.  Terry called in to ask about the hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) or nitric acid on board Phobos Grunt. When we started the second segment, Dr. Bell again went over the conspiracy theories re Phobos Grunt that appeared in some news articles.  One he mentioned was the HARP theory which he debunked as well as the biological warfare theory.  We then talked about commercial crew and Dr. Bell said Congress does not want it to be successful and he explained why.  Near the end of this discussion, Trent called in from Australia.  He wanted to know at what point Jeff thought commercial crew was changing from maybe working out to going down for the count.  What was the turning point for our guest?  During their exchange, Jeff said that space travel was not politically important anymore, instead political pork was the priority.  Trent mentioned his blog, QuantumG, http://quantumg.blogspot.com.  Check it out for his comments on Space X, Commercial Crew and more.  Jeff read his Space X comments and then started discussing the Space X reusability plan.  As the program ended, we talked about the JWST and I asked Dr. Bell what part of the space program he liked, if any.  He did have something he liked, the science and robotic missions.  If you have a comment/question for Dr. Bell, please post it on the blog URL and I will make sure he sees it.