Broadcast 1595 (Special Edition)

19 Jul 2011 Dr. Lawrence Kuznetz
Your Amazon Purchases Helps Support TSS/OGLF (see

Feedback: What did you think of this show?: 

Guest: Dr. Larry Kuznetz. Topics All things Space Shuttle. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, 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 welcomed Dr. Kuznetz back to the program to discuss his work on the initial shuttle getting it ready for flight. Dr. Kuznetz took up most of the first segment with stories about solving the management quagmire of problems in getting the first shuttle ready for flight. The first Space Shuttle, OV-102 before it was named Columbia, was seriously delayed with significant cost overruns. Larry tells the story about the management issues within three divisions of Rockwell & three divisions of NASA, & how the problems were eventually solved. Larry was involved with the thermal protection tiles. His story is one you do not want to miss. Later, he described the breakthrough that happened which allowed the tiles to stay bonded to the shuttle structure despite the four stresses he explained & the intense heat. The breakthrough was densification. As the shuttle tiles were about 90% air and 10% mass, there were problems getting the 10% mass to adhere properly with the bonding agent. The densification process allowed the lower portion of the tile to have its density increased providing more mass for the bonding agent to adhere to along with the shuttle surface. Later in the first segment, Larry discussed shuttle safety & the accident rate compared to capsules, specifically Soyuz. You might be surprised by what he said as he pointed out that the shuttle has been far safer than a capsule vehicle. We ended the first segment of this two hour program with a look at the accident rate of other activities & aircraft. The second segment started with a question comparing accident rates of private with the government vehicles. Dr. Kuznetz was asked about shuttle retirement. Throughout most of the rest of our interview, he talked about efforts to privatize the shuttle with USA. Larry said real operating costs were lower than what we typically hear, then he talked about the payload capacity of shuttle to LEO and GEO. One thing to remember, a point he frequently made, was that a privatized shuttle would resume carrying commercial payloads. This was stopped after the Challenger accident but in business plans he was seeing, it generated significant revenues that contributed to a positive bottom line a few years after privatization. Later, he talked about the benefits to the nation by keeping shuttles flying as a private business. We lost the phone connection, went to break & came back with the third & final segment. In segment 3, Larry talked about the current status of Atlantis, Endeavor & what it might take to compensate museums if the shuttles were sold to a private party instead of being given to the museums. He also talked about using museum like facilities to create a visitor viewing area for the shuttles being worked on in the VAB and other locations at the Cape. Huntsville Tim called with questions about potential private sector shuttle markets. They talked about improving shuttle based on profits and cash flow, even modifying it down the way to a Shuttle C. Tim had questions about the capsule comments on safety & more was said about complexity, safety, & technology advancements. At the end, Larry commented on Dr. Zubrin's Mars plans. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Kuznetz, post it on blog URL above and I will be sure to let Larry know about it.