Feedback: What did you think of this show?:
Guest: Frank Stratford. Topics: A path to undertaking human missions to Mars. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Frank Stratford, CEO of MarsDrive, returned to the program to discuss his pathway to human Mars Mission as outlined in his Space Review article of Oct. 4, 2010, "The Relevance of Mars." You can read this article at www.thespacereview.com/article/1705/1. While our program was in two segments, this will be a one part summary as the theme for this discussion was the need to answer pressing questions about a human Mars mission and this them was discussed throughout the full program. As Mr. Stratford wrote in his article and said on air, we need to clarify why we go, how we are going to go to Mars, and how we are going to pay for the human Mars mission. His overriding theme was that we have to be pragmatic, each step of the process and the mission must have benefits or as he says, a Return on Investment (ROI) separate from the actual mission. He cited possible incremental areas such as energy, hydrogen, nuclear, solar, and other areas that are likely to be developed to undertake and sustain a successful human mission to Mars. He further said that even if the mission did not work out, the ROI from advances in these sub-categories would more than pay for the mission. During our discussion, he talked about today's status of NewSpace in his pathway and its probable future role. The same for nuclear propulsion. He also suggested that the financial returns be no further out than five to ten years but that in reality, it has to be closer to five years. We also talked about space policy and the commitment to human spaceflight by our policy makers and political leaders with technology and progress flowing downward from that basic commitment. Later in the program, Frank questioned the idea of cheap access to space and making space affordable for anyone or any one nation. He suggested a strong national security component in space access and that governments may not really want just anyone or any nation having access to space. Callers and listeners had much to say about Frank's national security considerations. I thought they were valid for debris issues and space traffic and situational awareness issues but like the listeners, I questioned cheap access being blocked by government for national security reasons. You can find out more about MarsDrive and their programs by visiting their website, www.marsdrive.com. I think the path Frank has outlined in the basic stages per his Space Review article and this show is on solid grounds. Public private partnerships will be important for future Mars missions and making sure that the steps of the program produce benefits each step of the way, including ROI benefits, will assure human missions to Mars in our future. As we discussed, such a pathway in light of global economic problems and growing demands on government and the need for new industrial capabilities and growth seem to merge with many areas of common interest when thinking about and planning future human missions to Mars. If you have questions or comments for Frank Stratford, please post them on the blog URL above. You can also email Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org.