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Guests: Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston; Topics: Multiple topics as brought to us by callers and through listener emails. Callers spoke to one another. Don't miss this program.
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Welcome to this Open Lines program which was both comprehensive and long. During our one segment 2 hour 21 minute discussion, we had multiple listener phone calls. Unlike many earlier Open Lines programs, on this show we connected callers to other callers who expressed an interest in talking to the caller on the toll free line. We also fielded several listener emails but the calls and listener discussions dominated this program.
We started our program with a few announcements and my mentioning a recent article in Forbes, "Apollo XI - A Wasted Legacy?" You can read the article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulkennard/2019/08/18/apollo-xia-wasted-legacy/#39f22c46fbbd. At this point, I took the first call which was from a David in New Jersey. David wanted to talk about Musk, SpaceX, and their Mars plans, especially life support issues. His call was triggered by the Friday Space Show guest Dr. Garrett Reisman and his comments about SpaceX life support work. Garrett used to work at SpaceX in this area and had much to say about how SpaceX was pursuing life support development with Mars as the goal. David wanted to know my thoughts on what Dr. Reisman was saying regarding SpaceX and life support issues. He then brought up step by step engineering or agile engineering, pursuing the critical development path a step at a time, starting for example with LEO. Don't miss this important early discussion from this program. Let us know your thoughts on these subjects, including SpaceX life support work, by posting on our blog.
John Jossy asked to call and talk to caller David so I arranged for the two of them to talk with one another on this OL program. John had questions for David about the SpaceX life support critical path, the lack of a closed loop life support system (a topic that came up several times on today's show) and the TRL for SpaceX life support or for any Mars life support project. Don't miss what David had to say and the rest of this conversation between David and John. At the end, there was a brief mention of the planetary protection issues surrounding the tiny tardigrades that crash-landed on the Moon, possibly survived, all as a result of the SpaceIL lunar rover crash. Rand Simberg will be the guest this coming Tuesday on the planetary protection and tardigrades on the Moon issues . If you want to read a good article about this, read "Tiny tardigrades crash-landed on the Moon and probably survived by Jennifer Ouellette on August, 7, 2019 in Arstechnica. You can read the article here: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/08/tiny-tardigrades-crash-landed-on-the-moon-and-probably-survived.
Marshall called to bring up the recent Elon Musk comments about nuking Mars to terraforming it. We had a good laugh, especially with the nuke Mars t-shirt design that people can buy but Marshall also talked seriously about the idea of nuking the Martian poles to warm it up for terraforming. He did not think it would work, partially because he said the solar winds would rapidly disperse and get rid of any water vapor and such that was put in the Martian atmosphere to warm up the planet. Later in the discussion, Doug emailed and called in to disagree with Marshall, suggesting that the water vapor may remain in the atmosphere to millions of years. We address these issues later in the show along with an email from Dr. Jurist.
Listener Edna sent an email asking me if I was seeing anything positive starting to happen with our plans for Artemis to return to the Moon. I said I was still skeptical, largely because of budget and budget amendment issues, congressional partisan issues and the likelihood of going to CR if the budget is not approved by the deadline. You can hear all of what I said on this throughout our discussion because it came up again in slightly different formats. Note that while I am not pleased with the plan or the Gateway, as you will hear me say a few times during the program, this lunar return plan seems to be the only game in town and we either do it which is something or most probably nothing at all meaning we throw away another important HSF opportunity.
Ft. Worth John was the next caller. He waned to address the Forbes wasted opportunity article I brought up at the first of the show. Remember, this article is linked above. He had much to say about current lunar plans and technology, plus the rockets being developed by the government and the private sector, plus Orion. At one point he said he thought it would be 50-50 that Starship would be successful. I brought up the acoustic signature issues for such a large rocket. Later in the show, Doug sent in information and spoke about the acoustic signature, throttle back on launch, the Saturn 5 signature and other related issues. Before John got off the line, I asked his about the speed of light controversy going on with Dr. Woodward and Dr. Sarfatti. John attempted to explain it but it is complicated. It is about the variable speed of light in materials which if Dr. Sarfatti turns out to be right would suggest you could manipulate and slow down the speed of light inside metamaterials meaning you could develop lower cost technologies using significantly less fuel. Dr. Woodward does not concur with Dr. Sarfatti. Dr. Sarfatti also does not think much will happen with the Mach thruster work being carried out by Dr. Woodward. They seem to have a running dispute with one another on these issues which I follow through Dr. Woodward's email list.
Dr. Doug called to disagree with Marshall regarding how long the water vapor might remain in the Martian atmosphere after nuking the polls. Doug thought it might be millions of years. Dr. Jurist sent in an email suggesting the actual time before the Martian solar winds dispersed the water vapor would be longer than Marshall was suggesting, probably closer to what Doug was talking about. That said, the MAVEN mission was sent to Mars to try to answer questions about what happened to the water on Mars and in the atmosphere. I suspect that Maven has good information on how long water vapor would last in the Martian atmosphere. I may look for a Maven guest to come on the show and talk about Maven findings as well as the impact of nuking Mars at the poles to terraform it. Of course none of this considers if one could even get permission to nuke the poles of Mars.
Doug also talked about life support and closed loop life support. One of the questions he asked was if a planetary surface needed closed life support if it had access to water, solar power and other essentials. Doug then suggested three separate scenarios for getting large payloads to the Moon with Starship. Don't miss what Doug talked about. At this point, Doug provided some factual information about the acoustical issues with the big rocket. I don't know if Doug is right or wrong in his back of the envelope analysis but we do know that the acoustic signature for Starship will need serious dampening beyond what was done for the Saturn 5. It will be interesting to see if SpaceX can control this issue and how they do it.
Terry form Texas was our last caller. He was upset with NASA Administrator Bridenstine for selecting Marshall for the human spaceflight development for Artemis over Houston's JSC. Terry listed several reasons why he thought Marshall was a bad selection and he suggested that this may make it hard to get Texas congressional delegation support for Artemis. I made the comment that Marshall was in charge of SLS as far as I know so for an idea of what may unfold with their HSF work, one should look at SLS management. If you think that is a fair way to examine Marshall doing HSF for Artemis or even if you don't, let us know by posing your thoughts on the blog. Before Terry left the line, he called to our attention an Open Letter to Nasa by Homer Hickam. You can read the letter here: http://homerhickamblog.blogspot.com/2019/07/my-open-letter-to-nasa-managers-who.html. It has been awhile since Homer was a guest on TSS so I will ask him to return. I hope he will do it. He has much that is important to say and share with our audience.
Please post your comments/questions on the blog for this show. If you want to be in touch with any of our callers, let me know and I will make that happen.