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Guest: Gary Oleson; Topics: We discussed Gary's Space News Op-ed "The Apollo Program and the Chinese Treasure fleets" dated July 19, 2019. This was a one segment 80 minute discussion with Gary linking the Apollo program and the basics of exploration with the Chinese treasure fleets, all with similar outcomes, developments and even reasoning for changes that fell upon both programs. About half way through the discussion, Gary focused on lessons learned and then as we neared the end of the program, we started asking questions as to why it appears the Chinese may have learned the lessons but the US seems to be repeating the lessons, especially the Moon and human spaceflight.
During the program we took calls from Marshall who wanted to link in the Chinese silk trades and routes. Marshall's call was soon followed with a call from Ft. Worth John wanting to know about the Russian roll and the military in Chinese treasure ship missions plus of course in our Apollo program.
Additional topics focused on doing missions for a political mandate but not an economic or wealth development purpose or return. Gary explained why the treasure fleet political mandate ended with a new emperor after much internal debate which he compared to how we slowed down and ended Apollo, then changed our space program into a noneconomic political program that continued only because of an added value component, the international community. This is why the ISS won approval by one vote and why the ISS has continued with its mission through today. Don't miss this part of our discussion because in my opinion. Gary did an excellent job of connecting the dots with the early Chinese politically mandated treasure fleet programs and Apollo with similar outcomes based upon similar developments and situations in both countries. During our discussion, we responded to several email questions which expanded our conversation.
One of the major points and themes of this discussion what that space missions done out of political and/or partisan mandates typically fail without an ROI value. Gary illustrated this with ancient China and the our Apollo program. In the discussion, we talked about enhancements which included public private partnerships, both for the Chines which Gary described and of course today with NASA and the growing private sector. Gary stressed over and over again the importance of the value stream and an ROI to have a profitable and sustainable space mission. We then took a look at how China was doing that today with its lunar and ISRU plans to benefit China as compared to what Gary and I both heard from our space leaders at the recent ISDC conference in that we would be going to the moon to help us go to Mars. No resource development, no ISRU, not real value stream, just a political mandate mission that probably will end up like Apollo and the Chinese treasure fleets, assuming the program actually commences. This is a discussion you don't want to miss.
As we got near the end of the program I started asking Gary what we could do about the fact that we both thought that the US was not learning its lessons from history. You might be surprised by what Gary had to say in this part of the discussion so don't miss it. As part of what Gary was saying and as we were just about to end the show, Gary offered up a quote from Robert Goddard that was applicable to our conversation. Later Gary looked up the quote and sent it to me. Here is the actual Goddard quote that Gary referenced at the end of the program:
“How many more years I shall be able to work on the problem I do not know; I hope, as long as I live. There can be no thought of finishing, for 'aiming at the stars' both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning. “ Robert H. Goddard
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