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Guest: Dr. Clive Neal; Topics: Lunar exploration, lunar water, lunar prospecting, returning to the Moon, humans on the Moon, Mars, government policy, commercial space and making profits, space tourism and lots more.
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We welcomed back to the program after almost 11 years, Dr. Clive Neal from the University of Notre Dame. Check out the website for our guest for his background, publications and more: https://www3.nd.edu/~cneal. Check out the Lunar Exploration Roadmap from LEAG when Dr. Neal was active with the organization: www.lpi.usra.edu/leag/ler_draft.shtml. Our discussion was in one extended segment over 98 minutes but continue listening as I thanked our great sponsors at the end of the program. Remember, without all of our sponsors there would not be a Space Show do support them when you can.
In starting the discussion, I reminded Clive that he was last a guest in July 2010, I summarized that show and then I asked him how we had changed in the nearly 11 years since. Had we advanced, remained flat, regressed? A good part the first half of the program was spend commenting on and answering this question. At this point, please paus the recording if you are reading this summary before you listen to the archives. Briefly, h ere is what that July 2010 program talked about:
a. Was there lunar water and was it in sufficient quantity for use?
b. Why bother to go to the Moon?
c. Was there any economic benefit of returning to the Moon with humans?
d. How do we guarantee ourselves that we would not get bogged down on the Moon and then fail to go elsewhere in the solar system?
While the 2010 interview covered other topics, these four items were the main themes of the program. So I asked our guest for a report card on the past nearly 11 years.
In a nutshell, Clive said we advanced but at a rate slower than what we wanted or expected. He referenced water and the LCROSS mission but said over and over again during the program that we needed ground truth but we were absent it on many front. Clive mentioned that there was a period around 2010 and later when we were in the black hole of human spaceflight. He did reference the upcoming lunar Viper mission for water on the Moon but it has been delayed. He said what we really needed was a prospecting campaign for water resources plus how to make a profit on the Moon. He talked mostly robotics and AI but we did talk humans on the Moon when the time was right.
Our guest had much to say on technology advancement but also on having the political will to advance. Over and over again throughout the show, he referred to the NASA budget as an investment in our future, not as an expense item. Skipping around a bit, we did talk human settlement with a question form Bob in Houston. Listen to what our guest said about it. Share your thoughts with us on this topic or any topic from today by posting on our blog.
Clive was asked about Musk and the SpaceX goals of Mars with lots of people. Clive talked about how he pushes for innovation, said the Moon could be an enabler for Mars but lots of work to be done. Don't miss all of what he said about this.
Dallas gave us a call to argue with Clive on our readiness for humans in space, going to Mars and more. This was a great discussion, lots of important give and take so don't miss it. Rather than describe the discussion, I'll let it unfold for you just as it did for those listening real time. Some of the discussion addressed cislunar, other parts addressed orbital assembly, various challenges, Blue origin and SpaceX and Artemis and well…. just listen to the segment.
In talking about Artemis, the recent release of Artemis costs did not go over well for the project. Also, SLS and Orion along with the need for the Gateway since SLS and Orion can't do much more than to get to the Gateway station. At the close of all of what was said between Dallas and Clive (believe me, they covered much more ground than I am reporting in this summary), Alex sent in a note saying that the problem of government officials and government challenges along with competency were big issues. Clive made a power statement to find a way to avoid being disheartened by what is currently happening in politics and with government. What do you think about this issue?
Kim called from Mexico to confirm the need for an international dialog on how to explore the Moon. She asked Clive about LEAG but he said he was not with them so could not offer current comments on their actions. Clive mentioned the National Space Council from the previous administration and liked their focus on starting discussions which he said needed to be objective.
Other topics for today's program included bringing the Mars Sample Return back to Earth, long term space settlement with a call from Fremont John. John was asking about free space settlements compared to planetary surface settlements. He wanted to talk about living off the land, the human spaceflight gravity RX, getting usable water, and again, dealing with as our guest said, the ground truth of it all.
Helen inquired about space tourism. Clive said it would be something for down the road but don’t miss all of what he said on the subject. I asked him about the Mars Base Camp idea. Listen to what he said about Mars exploration needing to be sustainable and following on successful lunar exploration. Tony sent in an note from Pasadena asking about The Artemis Accords being able to address light pollution concerns for the LEO satellite constellations. Before ending, we talked about SSP and beamed solar power back to the Earth from the Moon per the ideas of the late Dr. David Criswell.
Before ending, Clive was asked to compare and contrast his students from 2010 to today. A last minute question came in about China and their space plans. Clive had much to say on this topic before we ended the program.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog. You can reach our guest through me or his website address above.