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Guest: Rand Simberg; Topics: SLS, commercial space economics, small launch companies, regulation, SpaceX, Blue Origin, space races with China and Russia, human spaceflight certification and much more as multiple topics discussed in this program.
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We welcomed Rand Simberg back to the program for a multi-topic 94 minute discussion leading off with the upcoming SLS launch. SLS was the topic of choice for almost half the program but it did come and go as a topic related to other topics being discussed so one might say we talked SLS or SLS related items for most of our program. It is no secret as to what Rand thinks of SLS and that certain was the case with his Space Show commentary. Rather than detail his commentary, I strongly urge you to listen to what he had to say, to why he has the perspective he has. to his analysis and then let us know what you think about all of what we talked about by posting your thoughts and commentary on our blog.
Related SLS topics included SpaceX and Elon Musk plus Rand had much to say about Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin not being serious competitors. In fact a few times during the discussion, it was suggested that Jeff was running Blue as a sort of hobby. When Rand would be asked why by a listener or me, he was unable to respond with an answer or explain it. There was much comparison with SLS and Starship plus the way Musk does things which included his embracing failure in order to learn, move forward and reach success. Rand pointed out more than a few times the risk averseness of NASA explaining how that has backfired on SLS progress and cost control while the Musk method of accepting failure to learn has clearly benefitted SpaceX with its rocket and capsule development.
Early on while talking about how Artemis will get to the lunar surface, Lonny asked Rand if he thought the bankruptcy of Masten Space Systems would interfere with the Artemis time line. The simple answer was no but this led to a discussion about there being too many small launch companies with failures bound to happen. Both Astra and Virgin Galactic were called out in this part of our discussion. ULA was also mentioned in this part of the discussion given its shoestring budget with Rand suggesting it should be split off from Boeing and Lockheed but doubted it would ever happen. He thought if it was divested, ULS would in time be a fierce competitor to SpaceX.
Rand spent considerable time talking about need to develop equatorial launch sites so that we could exploit equatorial low Earth orbit (ELEO). Rand spent time explaining ELEO to us, going over the many advantages and reasons for developing and using it. In addition, he listed the groups that would not be supportive of ELEO and those that would. After listening to Rand, what do you think about ELEO? Please let us know by posting about it on our blog.
Rand was asked about China and their policy. The listener wanted Rand's thoughts on how we should respond to China and space, especially their quest for the Moon. Another listener asked Rand how he planned to make ELEO happen. Don't miss that short response by Rand. Additional topics getting discussion time included commercial space visionary markets, commercial space property rights, the Outer Space Treaty, space settlers making up their own rules and regulations as they go, the future role of the UN with space settlement and more. Dr. Zubrin and his planetary protection comments came up for Rand's commentary. More was said about Blue Origin as a Bezos hobby. One listener was very interested in knowing if the ULA Vulcan rocket would be a competitor to SpaceX. Venus got into the Mix and Rand said he would like to see a commercial mission to the upper atmosphere and clouds of Venus. He would like to see what it all looks like.
Dr. Lurio of The Lurio Report called to talk about many of the topics Rand had been addressing on the show so it was a good summary to our discussion. For sure you want to hear the Lurio-Simberg phone call. Near the end of the program Rand was asked about V.P. Harris and her comments on possibly regulating commercial space. Rand was not alarmed by the comments and said that some areas need regulatory clarity. He talked about the needed role by the Dept. of Commerce, Art. 6 of the OST, the FAA and more.
Please post your comments/questions for Rand Simberg on our blog for this show. You can reach Rand through me or his website Transterrestrial Musings or from other internet sources.