Broadcast 1452 (Special Edition)

02 Nov 2010 Gregory Cecil
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Guest: Gregory Cecil. Topics: Space Shuttle, NASA space policy. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. We welcomes for the first time to the program Greg Cecil who took early retirement during the first round of layoffs at KSC regarding the Space Shuttle. You can learn more about Greg, his shuttle work, and his blog by visiting www.rv-103.com. In our fist of two segments, Greg talked about his work on the shuttles and mentioned that Discovery was his favorite one to work on. I asked him why and we talked about the subtle differences in the various ships. He worked on the thermal protection system (TPS), which he also described. In fact, he received phone calls later in the show from his former employees actually working at the time on the TPS for Shuttle Atlantis and telling him how much he was missed by his fellow employees. Greg was asked about the need to retire the shuttles and were they safe to continue flying. Don't miss his reply. Greg talked about how they have been updated and improved and how they are reworked after each mission. A caller asked him what he liked and disliked most about working shuttle. He said he liked being part of something bigger than himself, something good for the country and humanity. He disliked the politics, both external and the internal NASA politics. He was then asked for his advice for the next generation of aerospace engineers coming up through the system. He had much to say including urging people not to let go of their dreams, be flexible, be politically active, always keep learning, and more. Don't miss this discussion. Another listener asked how we can improve the public's education about shuttle and space. Much was said on this topic by the caller, Greg, and myself. Greg received many questions about Constellation, COTS, EELV, and Falcon 9. We also talked at length about the transition to commercial launchers. These were important discussions from the perspective of someone who really knows the shuttle program. As for transitioning to commercial launchers, Greg suggested it might take longer than anticipated, perhaps a decade or so, and be more costly than people think. He said converting an EELV to human spaceflight is not without challenges but can be done. In the second segment, we talked about the impact of the recent election on the Florida space regions. Since Greg talked about the jobs and that it was a big factor in who won in Brevard County, I asked him about NASA being nothing more than a jobs program. I also asked him about commercial launchers and crew from the NewSpace perspective and the idea that NASA has faltered and cannot/should not be in charge of human space flight. Don't miss what Greg had to say about these issues from his unique perspective and set of experiences. Ares 1 and Constellation came up as topics in this segment and our caller from Australia pointed out the destructiveness of NASA in-house civil wars and NASA people speaking out against their own program while employed by NASA. Both the caller and Greg said that such behavior on the part of NASA employees was very destructive and should not be tolerated. Most of this conversation was in response to moonlighting engineers that helped or worked on the Direct program in complete anonymity while on the payroll of the taxpayer. We finished the show by my asking Greg for any alligator stories from KSC. Be careful what you ask for, we got some good gator stories from Greg that you will want to hear. If you have a question or comment for Greg Cecil, please post it on the blog above and you can send it to him at rocketman@rv-103.com.

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