Broadcast 1054 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

14 Nov 2008 Alfred Zaehringer
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Guest: Alfred Zaehringer was the guest for this replay program, first on Jan. 4, 2005 and then again on April 12, 2005. During the first segment of the show from January 2005, Mr. Zaehringer focused on rocket economics, explaining in detail why it is difficult and maybe impossible to substantially lower the cost of getting to LEO, the Moon, or anywhere in space with a chemical rocket. Mr. Zaehringer afforded Space Show listeners a unique opportunity to hear a different perspective, one steeped in science, engineering, and rocket know-how. We discussed commonly perceived lunar, LEO, and other space development projects, all of which fell to the sword of launch and rocket economics as explained by Alfred Zaehringer. Alfred did say that we need to be focusing on using space for transportation, i.e. going from one city to another or even another country by using rockets to save time, and also on space tourism. These ventures need to be done by the private sector, not NASA. When asked what he would do as the NASA Administrator, he said he would close some of the offices, carry out lots of consolidation, end the planetary science and exploration program by turning it over to universities, and stress space tourism and space transportation. He would also focus on building, flying, and testing vehicles. When asked for his thoughts about the Bush space policy initiative, he stated it was more political than substantive and that we do not have the technology, the vehicles, the know-how, the experience, nor the cash to take us back to the Moon. He does favor a heavy lift vehicle, but separate from shuttle components and infrastructure. Alfred covered many other topics ranging from space property rights to the space elevator and more. You will certainly want to hear what he has to say and give some thought to his comments and perspectives. He knows rocket science and economics so one must carefully consider the information he shared with us tonight. During the second segment of this program from the April 12, 2005 show, Mr. Zaehringer again focused on rocket economics during the program, explaining in detail why it is difficult and maybe impossible to substantially lower the cost of getting to LEO, the Moon, or anywhere in space using chemical rockets. In response to his earlier appearance on the program Jan. 4th of 2005, Mr. Zaehringer was asked a series of follow up questions exploring possibilities for reducing launch costs to the next lower level, $1,000 per pound to LEO. We discussed new and lighter materials, rocket motor design and pump changes, fuel, sustained high flight rates, range fees, insurance costs, and more. Mr. Zaehringer remained convinced that the price is not going to be that low with chemical rockets and he very clearly stated why, citing the realities of physics and the rocket equation which cannot be ignored. For those of you interested in this subject, in seeing commercial businesses open up in space, on the Moon, or on near-Earth objects, listen to what Al Zaehringer has to say. He believes that dealing with reality is much better than trying to ignore it.

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