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Guest: Jerry Black; Topics: Reducing NASA costs to enable funding of returning to the Moon. Cost reductions through cancellation of SLS, Orion, & Lunar Orbital Platform plus more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.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.
We welcomed for the first time Jerry Black to our two segment 91 minute discussion regarding Jerry's recent Space Review post from January 15, 2018 titled "NASA has too much on its plate to return to the Moon." You can read his article here: www.thespacereview.com/article/3407/1. Jerry started our discussion by suggesting that to go BLEO, NASA simply does not have the funds regardless of their goals and objectives. To resolve this problem, he has called for the cancellation of SLS, Orion, and the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. We spent much of both segments talking about this, just how these projects would be cancelled and the difference in having national objectives and needs from a corporate goal such as what SpaceX has. From my perspective, Jerry did not see much of a difference given he believed that Falcon Heavy could and would also meet national goals. He fielded several listener emails about this subject so you don't want to miss the back and forth exchange with listeners. Let us know what you think about this by posting your comments on our Space Show blog.
Several times during our discussion I pointed out that Congress simply did not see SLS and its challenges as he and others see it and they do not yet believe the track record for private launchers has been sufficient so far to support their national agenda. The national agenda for launchers typically includes maintaining a skilled workforce, national infrastructure requirements, national security and national interest objectives. Listeners pointed out that SpaceX or any company fulfills its corporate interests which may from time to time track the public interest but not always. I directed listeners to the recent discussion with Marcia Smith on this past Monday as she did an excellent job of defining national and corporate launcher interests. At one point I suggested that these projects would not be cancelled, especially SLS, until Congress was convinced that the private launchers met their national interest goals and objectives. I told Jerry that he and others calling for the SLS termination should focus on showing just how the FH, BFR, or other soon to be coming on board large private rockets (we hope) do fulfil the national goals as seen by congress. Personally, I think there is a disconnect here with those wanting the end of SLS and those believing that it is serving national interests. I suspect should these interests merge some day in the future, terminating SLS might be the thing to do but I don't think we are anywhere near that point in time. Despite this, I concur with Jerry and Ms. Smith that NASA does not have the resources to fund to the return to the Moon program so if that program is to happen, even in a delayed and deferred fashion, either the budget has to increase or projects need to be cancelled. For FY 19, the proposed NASA budget does cancel projects and even a directorate but it is still short of the necessary funding to carry out its stated objectives. Jerry was also correct in my opinion in pointing out the negatives of kicking the can down the road by deferring projects or delaying them. Don't miss what he said about that practice.
In the second segment, though we continued talking about SLS and the private rockets, Jerry talked about fusion power. He said he was an investor with Eric Lerner in his projects (Eric is a somewhat frequent guest on The Space Show regarding his fusion efforts). We talked fusion propulsion, government fusion funding and the large Tokamaks plus ITER in Europe. We also talked about the possibility someday of fusion propulsion and nuclear propulsion. The fusion as well as nuclear timelines were discussed along with travel times to Mars as an example of the benefit to space travel were we to harness fusion propulsion.
We kept returning to SLS and what Jerry called the "NASA Way" of doing things. Don't miss how explained this. The BFR was talked about extensively. I thought it was referred to as already being available though it is still a paper rocket on the design board. No doubt if the BFR is built and is successful, it will certainly be a huge game changer for all of space. The last question from James dealt with a news story about the Russians having a new nuclear propulsion engine for a new nuclear tipped cruise missile that could defeat US defenses. Neither Jerry or I knew much about it and did not think a weapons system was that applicable to what might be used for space. I suggested we needed lots more information on this to understand the project the listener was bringing to our attention.
Jerry offered closing comments for us that you will certainly want to hear. Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Jerry Black through me or The Space Review.