Broadcast 3079 Dr. Jeff Bell

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Guest:  Dr. Jeff Bell; Topics: Jeff addressed a variety of topics including the cancellation of the Red Dragon, heavy lift rockets, SSTO, missile defense, Mars, lunar return, Russia and more.  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

We welcomed back Dr. Jeff Bell for a one segment two hour plus wide ranging discussion on propulsion, the Red Dragon cancellation and aerodynamic designs needed for the Mars atmosphere plus why the designs for Earth's atmosphere are different.  We talked heavy lift and big rockets, SLS, Falcon Heavy, BFR and others.  Among the early topics around rockets were questions about the potential commercial markets for the big rockets.  It appears that at least in the early stage of developing big heavy lift rockets, the demand will be from within the company building the rocket, SpaceX and Mars plans for example, or the government with SLS.

During the early part of our discussion, the heavy lift needs, Mars and lunar plans dominated the discussion.  Doug sent in several emails about the rockets and SSTO capabilities.  Jeff explained why he did not think SSTO was doable and I relayed my experiences with my Stanford dissertation advisor regarding SSTO in the late 90's and early 2000s.  Doug was insistent that if Elon proved Jeff wrong on SSTO, that Jeff would return to TSS and admit to being wrong.  Doug continued with the emails and this line of questioning until Jeff agreed to do that.

During this part of the program, Jeff suggested that using a BFR upper stage for suborbital transport was akin to science fiction.  This prompted a discussion with listeners via email so do listen to all of what Jeff had to say on the idea of point to point transportation. When I brought up the need to get approvals for landing in various locations around the world using a ballistic reentry, Jeff cited experiences with countries and ballistic reentry profiles, all to drive home the point that such regulatory hurdles were real and significant. 

Listener Thomas in Germany sent in a note asking about the thirty meter telescope issue in Hawaii as a decision on it is coming due in April this year.  At first Jeff said he would not discuss it as it was a cultural issues that he did not follow but then he did offer several comments on it and said he opted for science over cultural issues.  He talked about Mauna Kea advantages over the alternative site in the Canary Islands.  Don't miss all of what Jeff said about the thirty meter telescope debate going on in Hawaii.

The reentry of the Chinese space station and possible impact sites was mentioned. Jeff had serious comments about tracking potential incoming debris such as the space station, then we talked about space settlement and colonization plus our guest was asked for his opinion on suborbital space tourism with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.  He liked the Blue Origin concept.  Don't miss all of what he said about suborbital tourism. 

Jeff was discounting uses and applications for doing things in space indicating that there was nothing that useful.  I took issue with him when I asked him about pharmaceutical research and he dismissed that subject.  I cited my own experience about the ISS and Shuttle work done to discover the components of the cystic fibrosis genetic mechanism in microgravity which upended CF research for the benefit of those impacted by this genetic disease.  Jeff said it was still limited which was true as CF is classified as an orphan disease under federal law.  He then wondered why space cadets don't use this and other successes to promote space to the public.  On that point, I agreed with him and ended up with one of my minor rants on the subject.  Listen to all of what was said on this topic and let us know what you think by posting on our blog.

Before our discussion ended, Jeff wanted to talk about what he said was the collapse of the Russian space program, endless Angara delays and more.  He also talked about what he called Putin's imaginary super weapons including the Sarmat Heavy ICBM, their new mobile rail ICBM, their claim of a nuclear powered cruise missile and a hypersonic vehicle.  Listen to his Russian comments which are the last 10 plus minutes of our program.  Again, share your thoughts with us on Jeff's comments by posting on our blog.

Please post your questions/comments for Dr. Bell on our blog page for this show.  You can reach Dr. Bell through me.




A unique space policy/project commentary from Dr. Bell

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12 Mar 2018 Dr. Jeff Bell
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