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Guest: Robert (Bob) Zimmerman; Topics: A look at some key space events for 2022, a look toward 2023, company reviews, a look at the records being made in the launch industry this year, commercial space and national security space commentary, space economics and much more.
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We welcomed Bob Zimmerman back for a quasi space year in review for 2022, plus commentary on multiple space and related topics and a look ahead to 2023. This being election night, we did entertain a political questions but all were focused on politics and commercial space or a new congress and what they might do with SLS, especially if Starship is successful. My first question to Bob was to identify the top space 2022 project or event of the year. Bob said that was easy and immediately identified the launch industry that is setting records for 2022 with the U.S. and SpaceX in the lead. Bob was very thorough in his discussion so pay attention to all of what he said. At the end of his 20-30 minute launch industry commentary, a note came in from Todd asking why Bob did not mention Blue Origin in his rocket launch review. Bob said he was very skeptical about Blue Origin but he had much more to say later in the program. The BO commentary went on to ULA and their new rocket Vulcan which uses BO BE 4 engines. We had quite the discussion about Vulcan and the BE 4 rocket motors Then this part of the discussion let me to ask Bob about the upcoming Celestis Enterprise mission to the Moon.
For this particular Celestas memorial flight to the Moon, the Enterprise mission, I once again said my Mom and two dogs are on the flight. I asked Bob for his thoughts on it being successful given Celestas was launching on Vulcan's first flight with BE 4 BO rocket motors, then the memorial payload ejects and goes to the Moon via an Astrobotics lander, a first for that company. I suggested to Bob that it was a very risky mission given new hardware and I was concerned the memorial part of the mission might not make it to the Moon's surface and do a soft landing as planned. Don't miss all of what Bob had to say about ULA, Vulcan, BO, Celestas and Astrobotics. Also, even a crash landing on the Moon of the memorial cartridges equals a lunar deposit for "those" on board.
Marshall called to inquire if with a new congress, SLS would be scrapped. Bob did not think so, at least not for a while and for sure not knowing about Starship. Give it time. I guess that would be a fair summary statement. After Marshall, we talked some space economics, the growth of civilian space, and space as being essential or a luxury. Sarah from Seattle sent in a note wondering if Artemis would survive. So far yes but listen to what Bob said re the Gateway, Artemis and the Moon and finding SpaceX on the Moon.
Jerry asked about Starship getting a launch license for its early Dec. test flight. Bob talked about Starship now having some potential launch problems at their pad at the Cape. He did seem to indicate that the delay in Boca might have a lot to do with SLS and the Artemis mission or other issues not directly about the Starship launch. Please listen to all of what Bob said on this topic, make up your own mind, and post your analysis of the delay on our blog for this show.
As we were nearing the end of the discussion, I asked Bob about Israel and the UAE working together on their next lunar landing mission, Beresheet Lunar Landing 2 mission. This was all made possible by the Abraham Accords signed by all parties at the end of the Trump Administration. Next, we focused on some of the commercial space economics which have been very strong. We talked about the industry weathering the economic turbulence in the economy right now, plus in response to a listener question, being diversified into other states for more political support. Both Bob and I said it would be hard to do the latter given work force, industry capabilities and logistics, the skilled labor pools, and the lack of markets for space industry work in parts of the country. This was an interesting part of the discussion so stay tuned for all of it.
Space weaponization came up with a question from Jack in Flagstaff. Bob had much to say about the subject, the reality involved, the governing Outer Space Treaty and reality checks. Don't miss it, then post your thoughts on space weaponization on the blog. Bob tied this with the need to have rules and a legal order for settlement. He spent quite a bit of time on this subject before the program ended. He even used the Old World agreement between Portugal and Spain which impacted how South American got split up with Brazil and the Spanish parts. He said that this allowed all players to know the borders and limits and pursue economic development without wars. He said the same type of rule making and agreements needed to happen with space. Again, listen to all of what he said on this subject and what he put in his recent book. Post your thoughts about it on the blog.
Please comment/ask questions/and share thoughts on our blog for this show. You can reach Bob through me or his website, www.behindtheblack.com.