Broadcast 2900 Robert Walker

24 Apr 2017 Robert Walker
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Guest:  Robert Walker: Topics:  Spaceflight safety, risk vs. reckless, spaceflight participant regulations, planetary missions, space mining and 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.

Welcome to our program with the return of Robert Walker as the guest.  During the first segment of our 2 hour 15 minute program, Robert talked about human spaceflight safety using the example of the recently announced SpaceX planned mission with two people to orbit the moon next year.  You can read Robert's article about this here:   www.science20.com/robert_walker/why_i_wouldnt_fly_with_spacex_to_the_moon_as_soon_as_2018_if_they_paid_me_a_billion_dollars-224975.  During the first 30 minutes or so of the program, Robert and I went back and forth in a spirited discussion about spaceflight participant regulations and controls by the FAA.  Robert, as he wrote in the article, believes such a SpaceX flight to orbit the Moon would be reckless in 2018.  I argued against regulations controlling individual behavior as long as no taxpayer funds were involved in the project.  After our spirited half our or so, we moved on to listener emails and calls.

Our first caller was Kim in Mexico. She pointed out that FAA regs do not allow for envelope expansion flights.  Robert and Kim assumed, probably correctly, that orbiting the Moon may be an envelope expansion flight.  I suggest you listen to this entire discussion theme as it was interesting plus it was referred to throughout our entire discussion.  As this safety type of discussion continued, attorney Michael Listner sent in a note pointing out the difference between risk and being reckless.  Michael's note redefined our discussion so that both Robert and I plus the listeners started referring to reckless company behavior, not actually risk taking.  Again, don't miss all of this discussion. 

Kim was still holding the line when this was going down.  She got in another question about SpaceX fuel loading which was an issue for Robert.  Other first segment topics that came up included planetary protection and an inquiry by Dr. Doug wondering if there was a coincidence with the SLS announcement to orbit the Moon quickly followed by the SpaceX announcement to do the same but with a Falcon Heavy.  Dr. Doug put forth his ideas which seemed plausible to me. 

Robert got a space advocacy question dealing with space leadership, the proposed ESA Lunar Village and future space vision.  Robert talked about the need to correctly manage risk with all these projects.  Before we moved on to the next segment, Louise asked if Robert thought suborbital tourist spaceflight was essential for establishing orbital tourist spaceflight participation.  Don't miss what Robert had to say to Louise.

In the second segment, Robert talked about his books and more of his work.  Do read the detailed post Robert made to our blog because he included many useful and relevant links that you will want to follow for our discussion.  Robert then took an email question from Paul asking him if he thought there might be a space impact from the recent French elections.  Robert did not think so.

Kim called us again to talk about launch abort and safety.  She pointed out that such an abort could involved 14g's or so and this might have a lot to do with spaceflight participant doctor approval.  Don't miss all of what Kim and Robert had to say about this.  Before moving on, I somehow mentioned obese passengers and the need to abort and eject additional mass depending on how obese a person might be.  I wondered if such added weight was a critical factor.  Dr. Doug called in and said it was probably too marginal to make a big different.  Dr. Doug and Robert then had a mini-discussion about the safety issues, needed test flights (Robert liked the Apollo 8 program model).  Doug asked him if he thought different kinds of missions might have different levels of risk associated with them.  Robert said yes but listen to all of what was said about this issue.

Robert moved on to planetary science missions, specifically Europa.  He also talked Enceladus and being on the surface of Titan.  A listener asked him about cloud cities in the upper atmosphere of Venus.  Robert really liked the surface of Titan and Venus.  Don't miss his comments on these topics.

Planetary protection issues surfaced, then Andrew asked if using nuclear propulsion for faster transportation for the planetary missions would make a positive difference in getting more missions funded and flown.  Don't miss what Robert had to say about this matter. 

Before we ended the discussion, Robert was asked if he was satisfied with the speed of human spaceflight development.  Briefly, Robert was not and pointed to the ISS to explain his position.  Don't miss what Robert said about this topic. It proved to be a terrific way to wind down our program for the day. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program.  You can reach Robert through his website and articles per above, his blog posts, and through me.

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Robert's latest article on flying to the Moon on a Dragon spaceship