Broadcast 3492 Open Lines

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston;  Topics;  This Open Lines show had many callers and listeners using emails to discuss multiple topics pertaining to space.  See the "tags" for an example of topics discussed.

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Welcome to our two segment 2 hour 45 minute wide ranging discussion on multiple topics.  Note that I used the break between the first and second segments to read our sponsor messages.  We deeply appreciate the sponsor support along with all of your support as you are helping to keep The Space Show going.  Believe me, your ongoing support is very much appreciated, even more so in these challenging times.

I started the discussion by suggesting a few topics which included the White House new Executive Order, "Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources" which you can read in detail at  We spent a good part of the entire program discussing this Executive Order, what it might mean for commercial and NewSpace, the public sector, and the strange timing of the order given it was announced in the middle of our Covid fight.  At one point during the discussion, I brought up our increasing national debt which may go past $30 trillion as a result of the new virus legislation already passed with more such government spending probably on the way.  I raised questions about the ongoing viability, at least the timing and the level of space programming spending support going forward given this debt in light of the likelihood of new government spending priorities.  You will note I did not get much agreement on my budget concerns. In fact, most all who commented on budget and economic issues dismissed my concerns.  Most thought the programs, including the Moon because it was not a big part of the government budget would go down as planned or perhaps a bit later than currently scheduled.  One listener read off exciting projects underway in commercial space.  I pointed out that they were lagging indicators but if one counted success by popularity, I would be most unpopular with a failing grade.

Other topics in the first segment dealt with Mars Sample Return as introduced by Robert in Houston, our first caller.  Robert did not concur with the Zubrin plan but instead thought it was reasonable to exercise some caution in bringing samples back to Earth.  He advocated for an off Earth lab, maybe using the Gateway.  This was a persistent topic for the entire program.  Later it was suggested that perhaps a type of Mars surface lab could be created to do initial safe screening on the planet before bringing it back to Earth.  Most callers seemed to be in agreement with the cautionary perspective offered up by Robert.  From having covered this topic for years, I believe I can say that I detect a shift toward caution with Mars Sample Returns given our newly acquired pandemic experience.  Both Robert and I suggested that such initial safety analysis should not add substantially to Mars mission costs nor should such safety efforts create extreme delays.  Most of us commenting on this during this program want to see human exploration on Mars and do not hold extreme planetary protection views as expressed by others over the years and in more or less official positions.  We certainly invite your comments on the Mars Sample Return, bringing it back to Earth or first screening the sample for safety purposes at an off-Earth lab yet to be built.

Another aspect of the sample return discussion started with an email from Jody in Atlanta.  Jody suggested that bring back a sample, even to a secure lab, was risky as bad bugs had leaked out in the past.  Robert addressed this as did other listeners.  What do you think?  Let us know by posting on our blog for this show.

Another topic discussed in the first segment was the award to Masten Space Sciences for lunar payloads by 2022.  I have invited Dave Masten to return as a guest to The Space Show to talk about this award and his project.  I hope he can come back as a guest.

More was brought up regarding our budget deficit and the fact that the US owes more than the asset value of the country.  Several listeners wanted to know when we ended up owing more than our worth so I did some quick research and put my findings out in the discussion.  As this was done hastily, if corrections are necessary, they are welcome.  Post them on the blog with your supporting numbers and documentation.

Freemont John called as we were about to end the first segment.  John talked about the Yuri's Night celebration the night before, the exciting talks by Rick Tumlinson and others as part of the celebration, also the Masten lander award and the NSS article on the  L5 Shielded Dumbbell paper published in their Space Settlement Journal.  By the way, the author of that paper will be a guest on TSS Friday, May 1.

We started the second segment with a call from Marshall.  He talked about 9/11 with a sort of comparison to those already having died in the US due to Covid-19.  He had some questions about that. He also talked about legally holding China accountable for deaths and damages and trying to file legal cases against China in US federal court.  This became a big topic during the second segment as many listeners had similar ideas.  In addition, the Space Force was brought up suggesting the need for even more protective "eyes in the skies." 

Dr. Doug called to applaud the recent work by Dr. Limoli from his recent show on the low dose longer term radiation experiments.  He also commented on the good questions asked by Dr. Morrison who called to talk to Charlie during that interview.  Doug then had much to say about GCR research and shielding on a real mission, plus he made  the point that the Moon was a far lower radiation risk than Mars. 

Space Attorney Michael Listner called to talk about pending litigation against China.  You want to pay close attention to all of what Michael said as he remained on the phone to legally address the many listener ideas and suggestions for holding China accountable for COVID. Let us know your thoughts on these concerns, questions, and efforts by posting on the blog.  Listeners talked about seizing Chinese assets in the US, not paying back the debt we owe China, citing previous court action allowing successful litigation against Iran and much more.  Michael was very generous with his time and most helpful for us all with his legal clarifications. 

Rick sent in an email which I misunderstood but my reply and commentary started yet another discussion stream, this time for holding a US president legally accountable for doing or not doing something fast enough.  I apologized to Rick for my misunderstanding of his email question but Michael provided legal clarification regarding the courts taking on political cases.  Don't miss this important discussion.  More listener input came in on these issues, including a call by Ft. Worth John. 

As we were near the end of the show, I added in my concern about our not being prepared for an EMP.  That hit some nerves and will be a future discussion topic on the show.  I was given referral information for a few potential guests on the EMP subject and I have already started sending out invitations to have them address that subject on the program.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  If you want to get in touch with any of our callers and most of those emailing us, let me now.  By the way, as I have done on many earlier show, I talked about the declining credibility of the US media and press.  The ratting organization and ratings I mentioned on air can be found at  The rating service reflects not only journalist safety but the quality of what is being reported in the context of a free press.




Open Lines. All STEM, STEAM, space, science & virus calls welcome. So are 1st time callers.

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12 Apr 2020 Dr. David Livingston
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