Broadcast 1127 (Special Edition)

23 Mar 2009 Dr. S. Pete Worden
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Guest: Dr. Pete Worden for the first hour followed by Open Lines. Topics: Space Solar Power (SSP), NASA Ames Research Center. Dr. Pete Worden, Center Director for the NASA Ames Research Center, was the guest for the first hour of the show. The last segment was an Open Lines discussion primarily geared to our space solar power discussion with Dr. Worden. Our discussion with Dr. Worden followed the business case discussion on SSP stemming from the debate at the ATWG Conference in early December 2008 at Ames. During that debate, Dr. Worden explained why there was no business case for space solar power and he brought that discussion to this Space Show program. In discussing space solar power, we talked about launch and geosynchronous orbit access costs, systems engineering including the operating environment for the space solar power satellites, the cost of getting the power back to the ground, and ongoing maintenance and repair issues. Pete contrasted these categories with what is needed for obtaining terrestrial power and he showed the cost differentials indicating that at a minimum, SSP is five orders of magnitude more costly than using terrestrial sources of power. He talked about how terrestrial solar is used today and how much more terrestrial solar is available that would take us well past a hundred years from now. Listener questions were bunched together and merged given we only had one hour with Pete and there were many emails, most containing between five and ten questions. Some of the listener questions asked Pete about a NASA agenda that purposely omits SSP from discussion or consideration, some asked for his thoughts on the mix of energy sources we should strive for in an energy policy for our future, and still others inquired about promising new alternative energy technologies, especially those in the bio disciplines. While most of the time spent with Pete related to SSP, we did find out about new and interesting NASA projects. This included a discussion about Google, Cisco, the Ames Pleiades supercomputer, the ISU Summer Session coming to Ames, the Singularity University, and the economic value of Ames in Northern California. The final segment was Open Lines dedicated to discussing what Dr. Worden said about SSP. Most, if not all, of the listener feedback supported Dr. Worden in that there is no business case for SSP. I was asked about education which resulted in many minutes being devoted to this subject with my telling some stories to illustrate weaknesses in our present educational system. I also talked about the Astropolitics article that is out now regarding possible ozone damage as a result of a large number of chemical rocket launches going through the atmosphere. Toward the end of the Open Lines, I offered my "Pearl of Wisdom" suggesting that advocates of SSP understand the serious criticisms of SSP and learn how to negate or rebuke them, showing that there is a legitimate business case for SSP as in the case of the Pete Worden discussion. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Pete Worden or me from the Open Lines segment, please send your email to me and if for Dr. Worden, I will send it to him. If you email Dr. Worden direct, please copy me on it as I would like to see your questions and any response he offers. The Space Show address is drspace@thespaceshow.com .

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