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Guest: Rand Simberg; Topics: Apollo 11 52nd anniversary, suborbital tourism with Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, The Evoloterra.com ceremony, the need for a smart design spacecraft, Artemis, SLS, going to space for the "right' reason and more.
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We welcomed Rand Simberg back to the show on this important day in history to talk about the recent Blue and Virgin successful suborbital flights in the context of this being the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11 and our going to the Moon. Rand had lots to say about Blue and Virgin and it was mostly from a disappointed perspective. This theme was throughout our entire discussion but there was a heavy focus on the subject in the first 30 minutes or so of the program. Note what Rand said about needing a smart design spacecraft and why it was a dead end for both New Shepherd and SpaceShip2. Rand continued to comment on the time delays in taking both companies to fly, the fact that neither seems to be running and managing a serious business plus more. Rand unpacked lots of information for us so do post your thoughts on what he was saying on our blog for this show. In addition, Rand touched on the FAA-SpaceX dispute at Boca Chica plus he stated multiple times that Musk was building a space ship factory. He put what SpaceX was doing in the context of the number of vehicles available to the two suborbital companies questioning if they were serious since they only had one or two vehicles and no production line for additional vehicles.
Listeners began with emails starting with Jim Davis who wanted to know what a smart designed spaceship would look like since Rand was saying someone needed to build a smart design spaceship. Jim's question with Rand's reply was followed by our first caller, Marshall. He asked Rand what China and Russia were doing in the space tourism market. Don't miss what he said plus he talk about ESA. He mentioned several times that ULA was delayed waiting on the Blue Origin BE4 engines. By the way, Blue does not have those engines for their on New Glenn large rocket.
Rand began discussing the ceremony Evoloterra which he, Bill Simon and Margaret, the three authors of Evoloterra, have recited or discussed on earlier Space Show programs. I posted the link on our blog to the 2012 program featuring all three Evoloterra authors reading the ceremony on air. I urge you to listen to this program and the Evoloterra ceremony as read by the authors. This is a rare treat. Our Evoloterra discussion led to Rand talking more about our having gone to space with Apollo for the wrong reason. Those of you familiar with Rand's analysis on this subject know what he is talking about since Apollo was a program about winning the Cold War with the Soviet Union, not about space. Rand continued to talk about the wrong and right way to do space for the duration of today's discussion.
Listener Cathy in Fargo, ND asked Rand about the risk of regulatory interference from the government with the suborbital activity or even all of New Space and commercial space. Rand said there was concern plus he talked about applying NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) to space. Rand asked what would have happened with aviation had NEPA been around in the early days and had it been extended to include the emerging aviation industry. How about your posting a comment about this on the blog?
Listener Ben sent us an email about Evoloterra, schools and education. Rand had lots to say on this subject, including the space as a religion issue. Do listen as you might be surprised by what our guest had to say. The discussion continued with Rand providing us with his opinion that Branson was not a rocket guy plus more on the limitations of Virgin Galactic. He said that Branson was good at building brands. He went on the compare Branson to Bezos and Musk, both engineers or scientists, thus having an actual understanding of rockets and physics and related topics. Rand also talked about fuels used for Virgin, New Shepherd, even the upcoming New Glenn rocket. This discussion was then follow with a note from Todd in San Diego who wanted to comment on the probable suborbital market. Rand said there was definitely market. Listen to his explanation.
Ft. Worth John called to say that Blue with only two New Shepherd vehicles was not really a business. Rand said several times that it was run more like a hobby. He even commented that at the press conference after the Blue flight, Bezos could not even outline a flight schedule for 2022 or tell us what the cost per seat would be. Rand said this provided additional evidence to the fact that Blue was not being run as a real business. John asked about the timeline for New Glenn. Rand did not know but thought it was likely delayed waiting on BE4 engines which he thought would first go to ULA over Blue.
Listener Phil in New Brunswick emailed us about point to point. This led to an orbital vehicle discussion with Rand saying the Space Force was interested in Starship. Later Phil sent in a second note talking about the need to fly the vehicle to get the cost down. I then asked Rand to comment on the potential new breed of commercial SST vehicles and the rocket point to point market. Rand had some interesting things to say, especially regarding the potential of the SST vehicles being able to overcome wave drag.
Our next caller was Dr. Lurio. He wanted to address the good side of Artemis though Rand, as reported by Charles, did not like Artemis. Charles and Rand said many interesting things so listen carefully. Both agreed that a big risk with China was their copying our technology. Charles brought up Relativity Space but Rand was not that up on the specifics of the company.
Rand brought up his May 26, 2021 op-ed at his Transterrestrial Musings site, "Earth's Natural Harbor." You can find the article at www.transterrestrial.com/2021/05/26/earths-natural-harbor. Rand explained the idea to Charles and the rest of us so do listen but also read the above which is slightly more than one page in length. His idea uses Starship which he says will change everything, plus spaceports along the equator. Listen to his commentary and read his article on how equatorial launch and space will be the name of the game in the near future.
Once again Rand brought up Evoloterra.com. He was asking what to do to get it to "catch on." Please provide feedback with your Evoloterra suggestions. Post it on our blog. Rand then mentioned the attacks on the billionaires doing space. He said that billionaires do things, not the government. Post your comments on our blog as we would like your suggestions regarding Evoloterra.
As the show was about to end, we took a call from Ft. Worth John that turned in the battle royal with Rand on Artemis, the politically correct nature of the first Artemis crew featuring a woman on the Moon and more. John opened the door to this "spirited debate" (a mild way of describing it) with his somewhat sarcastic comment about NASA focusing on putting a woman on the Moon. By the way, read the special post I made about this discussion on our blog. SLS was a big part of the debate as was government's PC policy such as the first woman on the Moon. Rand said he wanted lots of women on the Moon but not as part of a failed government policy. Rand kept pointing out to John that Apollo and government programs like Artemis illustrate the wrong way to do space. Listen to the exchanges and then post your thoughts on the blog. We certainly want to hear from you.
Please post your comments/thoughts on our blog for this show. You can reach Rand Simberg through me or his blog Transterrestrial Musings.