Broadcast 1717 (Special Edition)

20 Feb 2012 Dr. Jeff Bell
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Guest: Dr. Jeff Bell. Topics: Dr. Bell's assessment of NASA, the science missions, human spaceflight, the Russian space problems, & Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://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. We welcomed Dr. Jeff Bell back to the program for his assessment of space today in the United States, along with the problems facing the Russian space industry and the Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories as to why the mission failed. Those familiar with Dr. Bell and his Space Show programs will not be disappointed as this two hour plus discussion is vintage Jeff Bell. Dr. Bell started with an assessment of the problems over the last year and half or so with the Russian space industry and its management. Jeff does a good job of summarizing their history of manufacturing, technology, and engineering problems going back to the time of Sergei Korolev. He also shares with us his experiences working with the Russians on the Phobos 88 mission. He said typical characteristics of Russian missions leading to problems include being too ambitious, costly for their budgets, and the labor allocated to the projects. He suggested that we in the U.S. do the same thing and cited MSL and Curiosity as an example. He had much to say about the early Soviet Venus probes and how their data was widely discounted outside of the Soviet Union. He then said Space X might be overextending and he cited several ongoing Space X projects which might distract from their primary mission at hand which is to get Falcon and Dragon operational. Listeners asked about the Russian problems driving customers away from doing business with Russia in favor of ULA in the U.S. Here, Dr. Bell had much to say about ULA pricing, overhead costs without NASA sharing them, and more. He also mentioned what was happening to Delta 2 given the GPS system needing larger rockets as an example of the impact of government policy/spending in space industries. Dr. Bell turned to the latest Phobos-Grunt conspiracy theories for the mission failure. At the end of this segment, Dr. Bell talked about the JWST & Curiosity in terms of overly complex and costly missions. In the second segment, Jeff talked about the Newt space policy suggestions and the idea of the Moon as the 51st state. He had much to say about the ridicule in the media and was not surprised by it. He used this as an example to say reality "conflicts with the space cadet world view." In talking about Mars missions, he said people had been conned by the Mars theory of life stories and promoters. He said that Mars and HSF were not worth it. Several listeners called in to debate Jeff on these comments but Jeff took no prisoners. He then talked about the ISS and its less than full utilization and that the entire idea of HSF had come and gone. At one point in response to a listener question/comment, Dr. Bell said that all Zubrin offered was a 60's program! Jeff did have good things to say about the science and robotic missions, said our planet exploration would be with robots, not humans, and that we needed more missions like the Kepler Space Telescope. He repeated throughout the discussion that nothing useful has come form HSF nor would it. He offered that the basic technology was from the70's and had not changed. He said overall interest in space had declined since Apollo. In his closing comments, he said he was still hopeful that NewSpace would decrease the launch costs as that would be a game changer. If you have questions/comments for Dr. Jeff Bell, post them on The Space Show blog URL above.

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