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Guest: Dennis Bushnell; Topics: Multiple topics for commercial deep space plausible projects and business, all of which were discussed in this program by our guest.
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We welcomed back to the show Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist for NASA Langley Research Center, for this one segment 100 minute discussion on potential commercial deep space development and business opportunities. I believe the best way to summarize this program is simply reference most of the topics discussed by our guest as Dennis went through the development plans in order and in detail. Later in the show, we opened it up for a broader line of questioning. Topics discussed included defining deep space commercial development, the future of commercial deep space and the various business areas and segments. Also talked about throughout out discuss was the technology readiness level (TRL) for much of what Dennis was sharing with us. Key to the deep space commercial development was rocket reusability which Dennis talked about throughout our preprogram. In addition, he discussed space debris projects, SSP, radiation, microgravity and tether potentials, shielding, living underground in lava tubes and under regolith, getting humans back to the Moon and on to Mars and even other places in our solar system. Planetary protection was a topic as were other regulatory concerns, especially considering the international space business community. ISRU was mentioned as key to our future for deep space commerce. Cislunar was discussed as was advanced propulsion including nuclear with the nuclear battery and more.
Throughout this discussion, Dennis pointed to SpaceX and its reusable rocket progress plus the degree to which SpaceX was lowering the cost to space. The other commercial launchers were mentioned but the focus was on SpaceX. He talked about the potential for the BFR plus he had quite a bit to say about SLS and Falcon Heavy along with nuclear thermal concepts and Vasimir. One thing Dennis mentioned multiple times during the program was the situation with "bugs" in space (bacteria). Don't miss what he said about bugs turning really nasty to humans in the space environment. By the way, space tourism was discussed as a future deep space commercial potential. He said space tourism would depend on much improved safety with rockets, radiation protection and microgravity resolutions. Dennis was specifically asked about space settlement which he referred to as colonization throughout the discussion. Timelines were frequently mentioned during our discussion along with the fact that we were dealing with long term and potential but not guaranteed ROI payments. In fact, much was said about plausible markets for the projects Dennis was talking about. Don't miss this part of our discussion.
Planetary protection was part of the discussion as we were coming up on the end of the program. Don't miss what Dennis had to say on this topic including what may already have happened on Mars given all the Earth missions that have landed or crashed on Mars. As we were coming up on the end of our discussion, Dennis introduced us to materials processing which will play an important role in the future of space development. AI and robotics were said to be a big part of our future in space but when I asked about commercial deep space being ready for investment opportunities, well, just listen to what he had to say in response to my question. Before we ended, he got a question about commercializing the ISS, the NASA support for the type of commercial projects we had been discussing, the potential impact of the DOD and a Space Force on commercial deep space development along with the fact that for 2019 we will probably be dealing with tight budgets.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Dennis Bushnell through me or his NASA Langley information page.