Broadcast 2620

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guests: Dr. Doug Plata, John Strickland.  Topics:  This program featured a debate about competing ideas for cislunar development.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See  For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. 

Welcome to our first ever Cislunar Debate with guests John Strickland and Dr. Doug Plata.  During the first segment of our 1 hour 55 minute discussion, it was clear to the listeners that while both Doug and John want to see cislunar development, they have different positions on how to accomplish the development.  Doug also created an informal, totally unscientific survey listeners could use to "vote" the program or approach they liked the best, either Doug's or Johns.  To vote of the categories identified in the survey, please go to (archive listeners get to vote too)  Due to time constraints, not all topics listed on the survey were discussed but should we do a second debate, the rest of the survey categories will be front and center in our discussion.  You can comment on our new blog (part of TSS archives on the new website) about the survey, both approaches, and the discussion in general.  Also note that the guests have posted comments and important links supporting their approach in the comments section of the blog for this show.  

We started the first segment with each guest providing us with both an introductory and opening position statement reflecting their cislunar approach, goals, and expected outcome from our debate.  After the opening statements, both Doug and John put forth their objectives and rationales.  For example, Doug wanted to accomplish the earliest possible settlement of the Moon and his approach reflects that objective by being simpler and less costly.  John's objectives focused on sustainable development for both the Moon and Mars, included a larger, more complex, and costlier program.  I did ask each candidate for their budget information for their approach plus the timeline for development.  See what you think of this discussion, especially when I challenged both guests about our their costs considering our current economic climate.  

In addition, this segment included a discussion on public-private partnership development, public only development, high mass versus low mass mission planning, BLEO components, and large reusable boosters as compared to the use of expendables. Locations were important to this part of the discussion so much was said about Earth-Moon Lagrange points , the lunar surface, and orbiting fuel depots.  John talked about expanding humans in the solar system, Mars as a backup planet, and having fully redundant rescue capabilities.  Doug was looking to reduce costs to do much more and to do it faster. He spoke of using the Falcon Heavy and Vulcan, lunar propellant, and simpler infrastructure for life support. 

Many other topics came up during the first segment which was detailed, technical at times, certainly visionary, and ranging from the simple to the very complex.  We fielded listener emails during this segment. For example, Ken asked Doug how he thought a cislunar economy might develop without a focus on Mars as the goal.  He asked John why was it important for cislunar efforts to be directed towards going to Mars?

In the second segment, we zeroed in on the two approaches to cislunar infrastructure. Here, you will hear substantial differences between John's and Doug's approach to creating cislunar infrastructure.  Doug went into detail to explain the basics of his "simpler" approach while John went into considerable detail to explain why the more complex approach with more launches, higher mass, and more costs was needed.  As part of John's explanation for his approach to cislunar infrastructure, he cited radiation shielding with water and the need for the high mass missions.  Doug's plan was simpler, lower in cost with less launches because he said we need to make the program sellable.  Making it sellable requires a lower cost and simpler mission plan than what John was proposing.  See what you think regarding the two approaches and let us know on the blog. 

Kim called in from Mexico to talk about infrastructure for cislunar being built in LEO rather than outside LEO.  Both guests responded to Kim plus Ken sent in an email answer as well.  She also brought up the issue of crew safety.  This topic dominated the balance of the second segment as John said his approach addressed risk and made sure that the crew would be as safe as possible.  Doug and John differed on many of these issues so again, listen and you decide. Regarding crew safety, be sure to listen to Brian's email that I read at the end of the safety discussion.

As the segment was nearing the end, ice harvesting equipment came up for discussion.  Again, Doug presented a simpler and less costly approach, one that may very well be an easier sell than the approach suggested by John.  Doug's plan required fewer pieces of hardware while John advocated for a much higher lift mass per month and more complex systems.  Listen to how each explained and validated their approach.  Post comments on the blog. 

Both guests offered closing and summary statements explaining their approach to cislunar development.  The approaches are different but as I said early on, both support cislunar development and are dedicated to seeing the economic development of cislunar space no matter what it ends up looking like.

Please post your comments on the archive page for this show on The Space Show website.  Remember, this is our new blog, we are not using the Wordpress blog anymore for shows and comments.  To comment, you need to open a free and simple Disqus account or use your social media account.  




The Great Cislunar Debate

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10 Jan 2016 Dr. Doug Plata, John Strickland
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