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Brent Sherwood, Monday, 6-29-15 June 30, 2015

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Brent Sherwood, Monday, 6-29-15


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Guest:  Brent Sherwood;  Topics:  NASA Discovery Missions, planetary exploration 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 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 Brent Sherwood back to the show to discuss NASA planetary science missions and in particular the Discovery class missions.  During our nearly two hour discussion without a break, Brent started out by telling us how NASA selects Discovery class missions.  He talked about the two kinds of science but focused on the Discovery missions which have a $500 million budget not including launch or operating costs.  He said it was open season on the solar system other than the sun or Earth as they were covered by other NASA programs.  In speaking about the history of Discovery missions, he named a few that we are all familiar with such as Kepler, Grail, Deep Impact, Stardust, the Phoenix Mission, Dawn and the upcoming Insight Mission to Mars.  Brent then explained the proposed missions under the auspices of his team.  These proposed missions include VERITAS, BASiX, CORE, Pandora, Proteus, Psyche, Kuiper, and ELF.  Brent explained each proposed mission to us, talked about the P.I. for each mission, and the science to be gained from the mission.  Listeners had many questions for him including how the principal investigator (PI) was selected.  Brent explained the process, where the PIs come from, how a mission is proposed, is it coming from a university or academic setting, has it been proposed before, or is it coming from JPL or another NASA center or the Applied Physics Lab (APL).  Brent was clear that Discovery missions, given their limited resources, were not about developing and proving out new technology so in answer to my question about the TRL of completing these missions, he said they were all coming in with very high TRLs though the missions sound very futuristic, even bordering on science fiction.  As for timelines, Discovery missions approved now would fly in 2021 so they have about a six year time frame to be developed and flown.  In response to questions, our guest addressed this six year time line in some detail.  All of these missions sounded very exciting but as Brent said, it is a very competitive process and only one or two if any of them may be selected as other teams are proposing their Discovery projects as well and they are equally exciting.  Later in the segment, Brent was asked about the choice of launch vehicle for each project.  This was a very interesting discussion, don’t miss it as our guest explained in detail the role of the PI regarding the launch vehicle and how NASA actually selects a rocket for the mission.  In response to BJohn’s question about launch costs, they certainly factor into the mission planning. Doug asked a question about the Photos-Deimos mission and if the mission could identify a favorable small crater which could later be the site for a covered habitat and if it could identify frozen volatiles in the polar craters of those moons if they exist.  Brent said it might have such capabilities but that these missions only do the work specific to their actual project.  He had more to say on this so don’t miss all his comments.  BJohn asked why not a Uranus mission.  Brent said Uranus was too far out and too costly for a Discovery class project.  Near the end of the segment, BJohn also asked about the importance of miniaturization now and for the future with NASA and these missions.  Brent said it was very important and then updated us on all the cubesat opportunities and uses being integrated into NASA missions.  He spoke about the significance of cubesats for several minutes so don’t miss what he had to say about them.  Doug asked a question about realizing economic value from these missions or at least what was the rationalization behind these purely science missions.  Brent provided an excellent answer to Doug’s questions so don’t miss it.  We ended the show after Brent’s response.  See what you think of it and post your comments on TSS blog.  Doug sent in a final note saying “I agree with his answer re: the value of science.  I believe that it is worth a certain amount of our money to increase our knowledge for its own value.”


Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  You can reach Brent Sherwood through me at drspace@thespaceshow.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)


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.