Broadcast 1481 (Special Edition)

20 Dec 2010 Robert Richards
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Guest: Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards. Topics: Moon Express, Singularity University, ISU, commercial space development. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, We welcomed Dr. Bob Richards back to the program. As we started our first segment, I asked Dr. Richards about his work & exchange of ideas with Dr. Carl Sagan. Bob not only told us about working with Carl, but also with Arthur C. Clark & Gerard. K. O'Neill. We next talked to Dr. Richards about his new activities since he was last a guest on the program in January 2008. Bob talked about his work in starting the Google Lunar X Prize entry Odyssey Moon and his departure to seize on a new opportunity in putting together Moon Express, another Google Lunar X Prize contestant. Moon Express was one of six companies selected by NASA in their Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program and one of the three named to receive $500,000 upon completion of the successful testing of a critical component needed for landing on the Moon. Bob spent some time explaining the ILDD program and awards which are given only upon success. We then switched gears to talk about Silicon Valley, CA as the center for commercial space activities. Dr. Richards was asked several questions about the Singularity University which is located at NASA Ames. Near the end of this segment, Gary called in to ask about ISRU development, specifically on the Moon and then closed his comments by asking about the feasibility of one way trips to Mars. In the second segment, we talked about the revised deadlines for the Google Lunar X Prize and deadlines for Moon Express. We learned that Moon Express hopes to be able to do its critical component test as part of the NASA ILDD by this summer if not sooner. To learn more about Moon Express, visit their website at You can also visit the website for the Singularity University at Later in this segment, our attention turned to the Singularity University. Bob said that most of the students were not space enthusiasts and based on their online stats for their students, only about 4% of the students were interested in space before the program. He then talked about the structure of their program, the example of their grand challenge on space, "Boldly Stay," and the fact that it turned out to be oversubscribed with 30% to 40% of their 80 students participating in the challenge. Bob was asked several questions about the teaching methodology that produced such astounding results so he spent some time talking with us about the Singularity University approach to teaching and their students. Dr. Lurio then called to further clarify the awards in the NASA ILDD program. Bob was asked about his possible move to the Silicon Valley and becoming a full time U.S. resident. This sparked a discussion about the U.S. and the Valley as the center for entrepreneurism, especially space entrepreneurism, as well as the center for commercial space activities. The subject of aerospace industry trends came up and we talked about the shifts from traditional aerospace to commercial space and the private companies. Toward the end of the program, John in Atlanta called in to question the real progress the changes in space policy represented given we were letting go of the Shuttle and in a way, returning to 1960's and 1970s type technology. At the end of the program, Elliott sent in a note asking for more information about Bob's departure from Odyssey Moon and for a comparison of the Isle of Man with Silicon Valley. In his closing comments, Dr. Richards brought us full circle to the start of the interview so don't miss what he had to say. If you have questions or comments for Dr. Bob Richards, please post them on the blog URL above. You can also forward them to me at and I will send them to him.



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