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Guest: Dr. Mike Griffin; Topics: Space policy, rocket programs, returning to the Moon, creating a great space program, Mars, and much 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 Dr. Mike Griffin back to the show for a one segment 65 minute discussion on policy and many other space issues and projects. Our discussion started off with my asking Mike about some of the frequent topic discussions we have had on The Space Show. Mike was first asked to comment on heavy lift and SLS. He had much to say about heavy lift, defined what heavy lift meant as defined by NASA and why it would be beneficial over using smaller launchers with smaller payloads and more numerous flights. You do not want to miss this opening discussion with Mike, it was a good one.
Falcon Heavy was discussed as part of the heavy lift discussion. Mike had much to say about FH in the context of talking about heavy lift. He also made a comment about government sponsored competitions, noting that Falcon Heavy was not even on the design board when SLS went to bid but based on the NASA definition, it would not have been considered a heavy lift vehicle. He further said that as NASA had defined heavy lift and the specs for SLS, the full SLS would be around 2.5 larger in capacity and capability than Falcon Heavy. Don't miss what he said about this along with the government bidding and contracting process.
Listener George asked Mike about our actually having a new space policy focused on returning to the Moon. Here, Mike strongly supported going to the Moon and said it would provide the learning and training for going to Mars. He said he very much wanted to go to Mars in his lifetime but for now we are not ready and returning to the Moon will help get us there. This was a comprehensive discussion.
Several times during the program Mike talked about a great space program for a great nation. He defined that again for us as he has done on his previous Space Show programs. I asked if returning to the Moon was an example of a great space program for a great nation. Don't miss what he said about that. We then talked about going to the Moon as a mixture of government and commercial companies. Mike carefully defined a commercial company so pay attention to that. It is not a company getting government subsidies or having just one customer, the government. He thought that there would be many ways for commercial companies to be involved in the Moon and he cited multiple potential commercial examples. He said he was strongly supportive of commercial space and capitalism for space. Thus, government could help stimulate private sector business but for the most part, government should get out of the way of the commercial efforts. He also thought that for humans to the Moon, that would likely be done with a government program of sorts for the near future but should transfer over to the private sector as soon as possible.
Seattle Helen asked Mike about the resumption of the National Space Council. Mike thought this was a good idea and explained why so do listen to what he had to say about. His comments were important and I hope that when the National Space Council gets going, it calls on Mike for advice & expert leadership.
I asked Mike if the political landscape was as nasty and contentious back when he was the administrator as it is today. Mike had interesting things to say about his term, mostly because the policy was set as a result of the Columbia accident, the suggestions made by the Columbia Accident Review Board, and what Pres. Bush said he wanted for our new space program post Columbia. When he became administrator, his job was to enact the president's policy. Today, there is no real space policy as it was abandoned at the beginning of the first term of President Obama. This means that the next NASA administrator will likely be charged with working to get the presidential policy in place plus enacting it. Given the partisan behavior of congress and others today, in my opinion the next NASA administrator will have a far more challenging time at the job than Mike had when he was nominated and approved as the NASA top dog. This was quite an interesting discussion so don't miss it.
Our next email came in from Bill from Virginia. He pointed out that there had been lots of Space Show commentary on airship to orbit. Given Mike's academic credentials and real life experience with propulsion, rockets and related issues, he wanted Mike to give his opinion on airship to orbit asking if it violated the laws of physics and was it doable. Mike had not given any thought to an airship to orbit problem let alone project but he went ahead and answered it off the top of his head. You need to hear what he said about it. I suspect if he really tackled the problem and ran the numbers (as we like to say on The Space Show), his answer regarding the laws of physics and more would have been stronger.
Kim managed to get a call through to us as we were experiencing phone line issues. Kim told me about them in an email and I was able to restore the line for her call. Kim asked Mike about how NASA talks about space and suggested they could do more to be supportive to commercial space and big vision ideas for space development. It is important that you listen to this discussion because Mike explained the constraints NASA is under in talking about the program of record which is the president's program as funded by congress. That is what the Administrator must support and what NASA focus on. They cannot speak to and endorse other activities like deep space mining or settlement though individuals within NASA could speak about other or related space development ideas but without any power or authority. Kim and Mike also talked about public advocacy. I mentioned to Mike what I say with people all the time on the show. I said I hear great ideas and plans from advocates and space professionals but when I ask them their plan to put their plan into motion, I get nothing but dead air. I asked Mike about a pathway from a good idea or vision to reality. You need to listen to what Mike said about this to get the answer.
John from Ft. Worth sent in a note asking about fuel depots. Mike talked about lunar depots and oxygen. He had a different take on Earth oriented depots. Paul from New York asked about the need to determine the human spaceflight gravity prescription before we do human spaceflight BLEO. Mike took issue with that using sea exploration centuries ago with lots of people getting sick and dying before a cure for scurvy was discovered. He cited a book on the subject. There are actually several good books on this subject for those of you interested in following up on Mike's comments. Mike said he would not want to delay BELO human spaceflight until we had a fix for microgravity problems for humans. Don't miss what Mike said about this and he need to explore. He reminded us that exploration was risky business.
Shelia sent in a note saying that her high school grandson said money spent on space was wasted and should be spent on poor people and other programs here on Earth. Shelia said he was being taught this in school. Don't miss what Mike said in response to Shelia's comments. I suggested Sheila find out why the teacher was teaching this to his/her class and maybe the teacher needed an education along the lines Mike was talking about.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program. You can reach Dr. Mike Griffin through me.