Broadcast 1153 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Dr. Alan Stern. Topics: NASA administration, private spaceflight, New Horizons Mission, the Last NASA Administrator. Dr. Alan Stern was our guest for this program to discuss many topics. We started our discussion with NASA given his recent position as Chief of all NASA space and Earth science missions. We talked about the his missions, how to cut costs and save money, the proper balance with the science and the human spaceflight part of NASA, the best use of the ISS, private spaceflight and NASA, and much more. We then moved on to the entrepreneurial private sector as Dr. Stern is a consultant to several of the emerging spaceflight companies. Here we discussed suborbital and orbital flight, the science missions that will be part of the Virgin Galactic flight profile and what these missions mean for potential income generation for the company. Our discussion took us into the proper management and leadership characteristics needed to be the NASA Administrator, the upcoming Constellation review directed by Norm Augustine, and Alan's concern that unless certain changes are made and new directions sought, we may be looking at the "Last NASA Administrator." As a result of a listener question on this issue, Dr. Stern elaborated on what his concerns were and why he said we might be looking at the last administrator. This is an important discussion you will want to hear. In the last segment of the program, we talked about the consequences of regulation creep to NASA and for other missions, and the New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Dr. Stern is the PI for New Horizons so we got important information, plus we addressed some not so common questions such at the round trip time for communications and the New Horizons rule of thumb for mission length and round trip light speed time. We talked about the science being generated by New Horizons and the expectations for it when it gets to Pluto and starts mapping doing spectra analysis, atmospheric analysis and more. We talked about how New Horizons was built to survive the space trip, the risks for the trip, and the planned dormancy for most of its parts and more. This was a fascinating discussion and glimpse into how an inter-planetary probe is planned and built to survive and function when it gets to its destination. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Alan Stern, please send it to me at and I will forward it to him.



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10 May 2009 Dr. Alan Stern
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