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Guest: Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston; Topics: We discussed multiple topics including the recent PGE power shutdown & emergency preparedness for TSS, EMP and the grid, Musk presentation, Starship, 2020 fiscal year budget, CR, NASA lunar contracts and more.
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Welcome to our one segment one hour 41 minute Open Lines discussion. I started the program by talking about the recent Northern California PGE power shutdown which had an impact on The Space Show. I talked about the impact, the loss of communications, and the need to be prepared for emergencies. I then put forth a few topics for discussion in the space news of the day. I also mentioned the email I got about Feedspot which is a website regarding space podcasts. The founder, Anuj Agarwal, notified me that The Space Show had been selected by their panelists as one of the top 35 space podcasts on the internet. I read his email on air, talked about the site which I called up on air and invited the Founder to call the show but unfortunately he did not call us. Check out the website and The Space Show listing at https://blog.feedspot.com/space_podcasts.
Our first caller was Marshall who followed up from his last call in finding out the readiness for Oklahoma and their power grid should there be an EMP attack. This was discussed by Marshall on the last Open Lines program. Marshall talked with an electrical worker that he saw at a power station who also was a Major in the Oklahoma National Guard. Don't miss his response to Marshall asking about an EMP attack. I suspect we would all get a similar answer if we inquired about what our respective states and power companies were doing to prepare for an EMP attack. Marshall asked the Major if Oklahoma military basis were hardened. The response he got was that most of the crucial military base infrastructure was underground. I asked Marshall how deep underground infrastructure had to be to be protected from an EMP but Marshall did not know the answer.
Ft. Worth John was the next caller. He saw the Musk video presentation re Starship from a few weeks ago and wanted to talk about it. John had lots to say about the Raptor engines, their progress, engine design, testing, and timeline for demo flights. John then talked about stainless steel construction, mass issues, stainless steel versus composites plus the possibility of government roadblocks put in the way of SpaceX progress. Don't miss what John had to say regarding these matters. Listener Bill wanted to call and talk with John so I patched the two together. Bill and John talked about heat shield and thermal issues plus they mentioned acoustic issues. They discussed simulation plus real time flight testing. SLS construction came up. Bill ended by saying he had concerns for Starship getting safely back on the ground.
The next caller was Terry from Texas. We talked about construction at the SpaceX Texas launch site, then Terry said he was concerned because NASA Administrator Bridenstine was making contracts for returning to the Moon when there was no budget, we are on CR, and the amendment that focused on the Gateway and returning to the Moon had not been passed. Terry wondered how NASA could be making contracts when there was no money to use to honor those contracts. I put forth the idea that the contracts were being let because Bridenstine thought the budget would eventually be passed along with the lunar amendment. Terry and I then discussed the likelihood of Congress approving this given the highly charged and partisan environment we have, especially in the House. I repeated what I often said on this show and that is that I don't think returning to the Moon would be funded before the election for partisan reasons. I was also critical of the fact that while an amount was requested for FY 2020, there were no numbers suggested for the following years. I talked about financial accountability with Congress, I was very critical of the spending going on without accountability (IMHO) and that were I in the House I would have a hard time passing the amendment without any information on the potential costs for the subsequent years. I asked listeners to correct me in case I've missed the fact that out year budget estimates were not presented for the lunar return program. As I said on air, I hoped I was wrong and that there were future cost predictions that could checked out for the lunar program. If I am wrong and such forecasts now exists, please correct me with a blog post with the necessary facts. Put it on the blog for all to see.
Terry's call was the last call for the day. Before closing, I went over key programs already scheduled between now and the end of the year. I also mentioned that there would be six programs for this coming week!.
Please post your comments/questions on this blog. If you want to connect to any of our callers, let me know and I will be glad to get you in touch with the person in questions.