Broadcast 1209 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

18 Aug 2009 Dr. John Brandenburg
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Guest: Dr. John Brandenburg. Topics: Planetary protection, NEO's, science fiction, government policy, short warning period. Dr. John Brandenburg was our returning guest for this program to discuss his latest science fiction novel written under his pen name, Victor Norgarde, "Asteroid 20-2012 Sepulveda: The Cosmos Plays Hardball. " You can purchase this book from the One Giant Leap Foundation Amazon Partners website, or by visiting and click on books on the menu on the left side. In Segment 1, Dr. Brandenburg put forth the theme of the book which is that a Mexican-American astrophysicist, Alicia Sepulveda, discovers a NEO and figures out its headed for Earth, specifically, Los Angeles and Southern California. As governments find out about it, they hold back the information from the public yet there are people and groups that start to find out about it. As Dr. Brandenburg points out, the book is full of agendas for space and he says he basis this on his real work in the space field as a scientist and his involvement with Mars Observer and Clementine. Later in this segment, he brought up the fact that JPL, which is the hero agency in the story, actually has the legal right to license missions to Mars. I asked him many questions about this comment as I had not heard of this so don't miss this discussion. Dr. Brandenburg said he purposely provided a short warning period for the asteroid hit, one year, as he wanted to show what would likely happen with government and people in trying to come up with solutions, strategies, possibly even widespread evacuations such as all of Los Angeles or major parts of Southern California. He said it’s a "what if" type of book. In Segment 2, the issue of the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967 came up since it outlaws nuclear weapons in space and using a nuke to destroy or deflect the asteroid is part of the story. Dr. Brandenburg shares some of the story and debate within the book about the need to use the nuclear weapon and the opposition by some governments and people. At one point in this segment, he told us about a conversation between the British Minister of Defense and the U.S. with the British MOD wondering if the OST was a suicide pack! A listener question pointed out that anything could be a weapon and a weapon could also be used for peaceful purposes. Dr. Brandenburg discussed this with us and said this understanding was part of the story in his book. Later in this segment we learned that John included information about the possible electro-magnetic pulse that would result from using a nuke in space as he wanted to make the story as real as possible. We also talked about his personal experiences being involved in two Florida hurricane evacuations. Listen to what he said about being involved in two real evacuations and then you can predict how he covered the possible evacuation of Los Angeles given the NEO headed directly for it. Toward the end of this segment, John again pointed out that in his story there is an attempt for the government to control the population and government agendas seldom have anything to do with the truth. In Segment 3, John talked about how advanced we are today with technology and space developed resources that could be applied to a real incoming object to deflect or destroy it before hitting Earth. He felt we could absolutely handle the problem, even with short notice. He even included the Space Shuttle as a resource as he considered it a heavy lift reserve vehicle. He also said other nations had rockets and space assets that they could bring to bear on the problem so it was not just the U.S. We then shifted the conversation to his thinking on the priority planetary protection should have within the NASA budget. As you will hear, he values human spaceflight for the future of humanity and our country and thinks that the NEO threat should receive more science funding to help identify and locate the NEO's. He even suggested this should be a bigger priority than some of the science missions to the outer planets and solar system. Don't miss his comments on this. Do you agree with him? At the end of this segment, we talked about his real scientific work which involves the Microwave Electro-Thermal (MET) propulsion project. He talked about the rocket engine test coming up and how this rocket engine would be used for in space travel in the future. If you have comments or questions for Dr. John Brandenburg (pen name Victor Norgarde), please send them to me at and I will forward them to him.



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