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Les Johnson, Sunday, 2-15-15 February 16, 2015

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Les Johnson, Sunday, 2-15-15


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Guest:  Les Johnson.  Topics:  Solar sails, advanced propulsion, HSF, science fiction books & movies, and 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 http://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 Les Johnson back to the show to discuss his latest books on popular science & science fiction, solar sails, and much more. In the first segment of our 1 hour 45 minute show, Les began talking about solar sails and their use to go to go around our solar system and eventually to the stars.  There was much interest in the solar sail subject so Les gave us a terrific somewhat technical lesson on solar sails.  We fielded many listener questions and we all learned much about solar sails, their potential, today’s capabilities, materials used, and more.  This was  an exceptional discussion so don’t miss it as solar sails are a very exciting technology for robotic spacecraft.

In the second segment, Les mentioned the Lunar Flashlight and Scout missions.  I asked our guest about the track record for solar sail missions.  If the mission launch was a success, the solar sail mission has been pretty good but there have been issues with the launches on some of the past solar sail missions.  I also inquired about solar sail work, research, and interest around the world and with other space agencies.  A listener emailed wondering if the use of a solar sail made a satellite or a mission more vulnerable to an ASAT type weapon.  We switched gears to talk about the science fiction work Les has done with Ben Bova  regarding mars with his book “Rescue Mode.”  Les talked about his parameters when writing science fiction plus I asked him about the feedback he gets as an author from both his popular science books as compared to his sci-fi books.  You might be surprised by his answer.  Nuclear propulsion came up for discussion and a few listeners wanted to know the human spaceflight awareness level of people when he gives lectures on the topic.  Interstellar flight was discussed as was the movie “Interstellar.”  As we were moving toward closing the program, Less said he believes HSF is going through a golden age and he explained why.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can email Les at the address he gave out, through his website at http://www.lesjohnsonauthor.com, or me.


Les Johnson, Sunday, 7-8-12 July 9, 2012

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Les Johnson, Sunday, 7-8-12


Guest:  Les Johnson.  Topics:  “Going Interstellar: Build Starships Now!,” and interstellar propulsion & advanced propulsion concepts.  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 started our discussion by talking about interstellar travel, his new book, “Going Interstellar,” and advanced concepts, both for NASA and outside the NASA mindset.  Please remember that if you purchase this book from Amazon using this link, Amazon will make a contribution to The Space Show/OGLF:  www.amazon.com/Going-Interstellar-Johnson/dp/1451637780/ref=onegiantlea20. Les told us that both he and his co-editor, Jack McDevitt, had very little trouble getting the authors to contribute to the book which consists of a series of short stories from well known science fiction authors plus scientists.  There is a focus on the plausible and grounded physics so that the sci-fi is rooted in actual physics.  Les took several phone calls wanting to know about advanced concepts and propulsion at NASA and in general outside of NASA. We spoke about many concepts including solar sail technology, nuclear electric propulsion, the fission fragment rocket, faster than light (FTL) travel, antimatter, & the types of possible starships that might be used, plus the time intervals to travel from point A to point B.  We talked about the challenges from the laws of physics, political leadership, funding, & timelines. Les said that barring the discovery of new physics which he is not optimistic about at this time, he does not think FTL travel will be possible. When I asked about the discovery of Higgs-boson as an example of discovering new things, he talked about the discovery of that which is predictive as compared to something entirely new and unknown.  Other topics in this segment included artistic license in sci-fi writing, the role of physics & the imagination, & even questioning the possible role of ET in contributing to advanced propulsion concepts.

In our second segment, Marshall was our first caller & we talked about the French nuclear program, fusion, & the large ITER reactor program.  Les went over many of the fusion energy challenges & we talked about some fuel issues.  Les then told us about some of the future books he is working on & then he had more to say about solar sail technology which is his preference at this time for robotic interstellar missions.  We took a call about the huge Atlanta, GA sci-fi conference, DragonCon ( http://dragoncon.org) as Les will be a featured speaker there this year. As the program was ending, we talked about HSF NASA infrastructure, the Von Braun model for spaceflight, and more about the specific stories in his book.

If you have questions/comments for our guest, please post them on The Space Show blog.  Check out his websites at www.lesjohnsonauthor.com and www.amazon.com/Les-Johnson/e/B002OUOYZQ/ref=onegiantlea20.