Broadcast 1544 (Special Edition)

17 Apr 2011 Wayne Hale, Dr. Alan Stern
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Guests: Dr. Alan Stern and Wayne Hale. Topics: Commercial space development, human spaceflight, NASA, rocket issues. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Note the audio recording of this program has static throughout the entire program which could not be filtered out. I do apologize for this but sometimes these issues come up with remote broadcasts dependent on hotel facilities not designed for broadcasting. If you have not done so, I suggest you visit Wayne Hale’s blog and subscribe to it (http://waynehale.wordpress.com). In our first segment, we discussed the role of commercial space and its importance, especially in tight budget times like we have today. Both of our guests made very strong statements about this issue and the potential through commercial space development. Several listeners asked our guests about NASA’s human rating standards for EELV, Falcon 9, etc. NASA has not yet provided us with final human rating standards. We talked about the possibility of excessive regulations overwhelming the commercial industry. Another topic discussed in this segment dealt with the probability of continued congressional funding of commercial space. Heavy lift rockets were also discussed and both our guests commented on the congressional requirement for NASA to build the heavy lift rocket. Both Alan and Wayne agreed that the worst situation would be for NASA to start and not finish the heavy lift rocket. Another topic discussed focused on the NASA and Congressional relationship and the issue of trust. Listener Even brought up a series of questions dealing with astronauts and we looked forward to see what the astronaut situation might be like ten years out with a thriving commercial and suborbital space industry. Rocket reusability came up along with high flight rates. Wayne had much to say on this issue, especially on the point that high flight rates were needed to make the reusable economics attractive. We started the second and final long segment of the program with a question from Helen about the idea to keep the shuttle flying for two flights a year for several more years as a private sector investment project. Much of the needed labor force has been dispersed and our guests did not think this idea would take hold. I asked our guests about space workforce issues, specifically along the lines of the discussion Jim Maser and others have brought to our attention over recent weeks. We talked about the transitioning space work force and the future, but acknowledged the challenges and difficulties for many during this period of change. We talked about the developing commercial industry being leaner than the government space industry but with the likelihood of more opportunity in the future as the industry develops. Our guests had much say about the ISS and using it to enhance and support both commercial and suborbital development. Andrew brought up space shuttle bottlenecks and we discussed thermal protection system (TPS) issues along with other matters impacting turnaround. More was said about congressional staffers and their space expertise along with the congressional micromanagement of NASA. The three of us addressed the cost of space access and if R& D could be done by the private sector. At the end of the program, we fielded a question about the many voices and opinions in the space community and if we would be better off speaking with a more united voice. In closing, Alan and Wayne said that we had exciting space times ahead of us and Wayne closed out saying that space exploration was the future of humanity. If you have questions or comments for Dr. Alan Stern and Wayne Hale, please post them on the blog URL above. You can also send them to me and I will forward them to Dr. Stern and Wayne Hale.

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