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Guest: Bob Zimmerman; Topics: Multiple space topics including policy, missions, budget issues, national space security concerns and more.
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We welcomed Bob Zimmerman back to the show for a two segment 1 hour 55 minute discussion on multiple space topics. We kicked off the discussion with my asking Bob for his thoughts on the recent bipartisan House committee bill doing away with the Artemis lunar return program, private lunar landers, the 2024 lunar return timeline, the lunar Gateway, all in favor of supporting future Mars missions. Bob spent time talking about this, working in related commentary about congress, pork spending, SLS, all from his perspective of course, plus NASA mismanagement of human spaceflight and other projects. Citing SLS and the JWST as examples, he concluded that he was not surprised by this initial legislative action though he thought the full house would not approve the proposed bill as is, he did not think the Senate would either, and then advised the president to veto it if it made it to his desk.
Marshall called to continue this discussion, pointing out that from his vantage point (on top of his tractor in Oklahoma as he likes to remind us), congress was incompetent and should not be managing NASA space projects like Artemis. Both Bob and I expanded Marshall's complaint to pretty much all of NASA and government in general, citing examples to bolster what we were saying such as problems with the F35, InSight delays , the government bidding process along with other examples. Bob pushed for his usual no space program needed and the private sector should be able to freely compete and that would be better than government rant. I pointed out that NASA planetary missions were excellent so Bob then talked about how the planetary missions differed from other NASA missions, more closely resembling what he was suggesting regarding private sector space development. Marshall continued his call referring SpaceX and Musk as outstanding private industry examples though Bob pointed out the fact that the government was still a key customer for the company.
David from NJ called to ask Bob about nuclear power plans for a lunar base. Don't miss how Bob answered and respond to David's call. Hint: All types of projects should be free to be built on the Moon, let them compete in free enterprise and may the best one win out. I talked about the need to open up nuclear regulation so that nuclear power on the Moon or elsewhere in space could possibly be a commercial option down the road.
Following this call, I asked Bob about Boeing, their reported quarterly loss, problems with Starliner and more. We had a good discussion about Boeing with Bob questioning an earlier decision to prevent X-37B from carrying cargo to the ISS. He too referenced the much earlier merger with McDonnel Douglas and cultural issues. Listen to this discussion, don't miss it. The Boeing comments were followed by an email from a Boston listener asking about humans to the Moon. Bob took the opportunity to once again tell us why he does not like government space programs. He wants private industry to be free to take on these projects and compete.
Before going to the break and reading sponsor messages, I asked Bob about China followed by the Space Force. Don't miss what he said about either one,specifically early Space Force budget actions and concerns. Hint: He sees China as business and investment competition more than anything else.
We started the second segment with a shout out to Bob and his Behind The Black website as it was birthday time for both and Bob had launched fundraising campaign for Behind the Black. Check it all out at www.behindtheblack.com.
Next, I brought up an article Bob posted on Behind The Black by Dr. Edward Archer for the James G. Martin Center For Academic Renewal, "The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research." You can read it on Bob's website or you can find the short paper at www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/01/the-intellectual-and-moral-decline-in-academic-research/. I urge you to read this article as I believe it to be very accurate and worthy of our Space Show discussion. Dr. Archer documented the decline in U.S. academic research quality as political ideology, NIH research problems, fraud, excessive federal funding without accountability and more have entered into the picture. He cited fraud and other examples related to three universities which Bob mentioned on air plus near the end, Dr. Archer suggested some solutions to the problem which Bob told us about in the discussion. Bob and I went over the solutions in some detail. In addition, I will be reaching out to Dr. Archer to be a guest on TSS regarding this paper so watch upcoming shows to see if he will be coming onboard. While Dr. Archer's paper related mostly to the bioscience areas, NIH, and medical issues,, what he said could easily be associated with space projects and research. A good portion of the second segment was spent talking about this subject.
Returning to space specific topics, Claire asked Bob about Virgin Galactic and the huge stock price increase since it went public. Bob had much to say about it, about the company, and suborbital tourism. I commented about other recent stock examples that significantly outperformed Virgin Galactic so the story was not that unusual other than the lack of operational revenue for the company that would traditionally influence a stock price. This conversation prompted a call from John in Redding, CA to talk about how space tourism will be the issue to positively impact human spaceflight. John also talked advanced propulsion, even baking cookies on the ISS. Find out more about the ISS cooking story at www.bbc.com/news/world-50277680 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ww-o8i-Ca0.
Dr. Doug sent in an email which I read on air regarding his conversation with Dr. Scott Pace who is at the head of the National Space Council regarding the bipartisan House bill on the Moon. He wanted to know what Bob would say about this to Dr. Pace. Don't miss Bob's reply though as you will hear, he had his reasons for why he said Dr. Pace or others would not pay attention to what he had to say.
Bob summarized the program as we were ending by talking about what lies ahead for 2020. He listed five events to follow. Put them on your list and let's see what happens during the year.
Please post your comments/questions for Bob on our blog for this show. You can reach Bob Zimmerman through me or his website, www.behindtheblack.com.