Monday, April 11, 2011

Friday's space show, April 8, 2011

Announcement: pay attention to newsletter and schedule, only a few shows in next few weeks.

No bad phone lines anymore, will hang up if line is bad.

Can't do show without contributions, looks like he asks for support on every program
reminder that it costs a lot of money for certain shows. Costs money to produce. Gives it away for free. My reaction: sure, if you got the money. If you don't?????

Has to get tough with listeners who are calling too soon. Introduces guest: Bob Zimmerman. Frequent guest on John Batchelor Show. One of top people he says. Behind the is his website. Bob is politically minded. More inclusive and broad than usual.

He says he likes comments on the website. David mentions SpaceX. Bob talks a bit about it. Falcon heavy 50 tons into LEO. Second most powerful rocket built. Spacex has a timeline and it looks firm.

He will be a leader in everything, says Bob. 1/10th cost of shuttle. Innovations to reduce the cost. How? Use strap ons for more power. Simple and straightforward. Not new technology, strap ons have been around a long time. He is building because the market needs. Makes Constellation more and more unnecessary. NASA can't dictate terms, he is in driving seat. Smart in every way. Consistent with Elon Musk, Bob says.

David asks about press conf. IPO question. David quotes paragraphs
Musk might take public next year, but doesn't want to relinquish control. Goals: to create self sustained colony on Mars.

(My comment) Don't hitch star to Musk. I like going to Mars, but that has to wait until we are ready. Don't always agree with Musk. He uses batteries on Tesla. Not fuel cells. Going to Mars is too ambitious. Zimmerman is gushing over SpaceX. I like what they are doing, but not a Mars mission this way.

(resume) SpaceX is growing company. (comment) Success is coming from competing against a moribund NASA. EZ act to follow.

(resume)SpaceX a threat? Ans: Opinion has changed. Not taken seriously. Now something of a threat. The threat is real, and they have to respond in like kind. Boeing, for example, lived off government all these years. Didn't have to lower costs. Faced with reality that SpaceX may end their business. Other example, ATK.

(comment) A bit of discussion about lower launch costs. What did I just do yesterday? But I didn't listen to this show on Friday. This puts me behind in a way.

ATK resumed: discussion of how ATK has changed. Bob points out that we are entering a period of transition. He says not as bad as Soviet Union. ( comment: we shall see)

Bob compares the old way to the way the old Soviet Union used to do things. Actually, from what I read yesterday, we could learn a lot from the Russians. This is too self congratulatory for what should have been long ago and could still go wrong. Nothing has happened yet. Time to rethink he says. I agree.

First caller "Marshall" asks about costs for getting a man rating. Can Musk get around paperwork requirements? Ans. Not waiting for NASA to tell him, he builds it and offers it to them instead. Put himself in strong position, gives faith he will produce in future.

When NASA shows up with paperwork, won't ignore them, but if NASA tries that, he can shut them up. Example FAA holds back license, like Scaled Composites, everybody sees them as standing in way.

Don't have to beg NASA for approval. Bert Rutan effect. Got ahead of curve, and tamed the bureaucracy. Not waiting for regs.

David: SpaceX is bright side. Asks about gov't shutdown. Shut down the most visible ones that upset the public. Political gamesmanship.

Salaries stop? If shutdown, will not be paid. ( I think they know that they will get paid) People are in pain (part of transition Bob says, you have to find it yourself).

Gov needs to get out of way. Get accused of bad things, but have to face realities that need to transition.

David says he thinks they are letting America down. (So, everything I said earlier in my own blog says the same thing, only he said it first. So it looks like I am parroting him, but I am not. I didn't hear the show.)

Bob says the government is the Emperor with no clothes. (Hah! I did say that before this show.)

NASA's funding is vulnerable because of New Space as well as the political milieu in which it finds itself these days.

Bob: Congress will waste a lot of money because they are still playing politics the same way they have been playing it all along. A political reality that prevents it from actually solving any problems.

Comment: the last election didn't force enough of these guys out. Nothing fundamental has changed. Business is still business as usual. I said this before the election and afterward.

Bob says "we are a democracy, we are in charge". I say really? The government is still doing what it damn well pleases.

David asks about other countries, Bob replies that most countries are still following Soviet style model. Russia is now more private than before, and is getting more money from its government. India is also following the Russian model, he says. China is old Soviet model, and they are not in it for profit. ( This indicates the feeling that they are rolling in dough and don't have to economize. This is what will bite them hard in the ass at some point in the future.)

comment: Bob's analysis of the business may be a little in conflict with what I found yesterday. Russia's success is that they keep it simple. America's problem is that we made our systems too complex and therefore, costly.

Some discussion of ITAR regs.

Bob emphasized transition. Out of control budget. (yes) Decline of manufacturing and growth in public sector. Where does money come from? Going bankrupt. Can't pay for space program if we are bankrupt. (yes) People won't recognize problem (yes Gushes over SpaceX again.)

Observation: He goes on about the transition and how, in his judgment, Obama doesn't want to shrink government, except for NASA. In effect, he wants to end NASA, without ( my comment here: any concern for what that may mean for this country. This is in keeping with a highly negative view of Obama, which appears to be greatly justified. People simply do not get the point here, I suspect.)

David mentions that Bob is Tea Party. Oh well. That pretty much wipes him out for the libs. They won't listen to this guy.

(Me again. Is the Tea Party interested in military spending? They should be. If they want to keep military spending and space programs, they may find that these conflict. Can't fund them both at this level. This is a big, big, issue. They need to get this right, because there isn't enough time.)

break in the program. One hour into it.

James Webb Space Telescope discussion: crowding out other science projects. Started as a 1.5 billion program, now at 6 billion. Originally scheduled for 2011, now 2015. Cost overruns have to come from somewhere. New projects can't start until Webb gets paid for.

Other programs have "died". ( Speculation alert: What if this happened for the same reason everything else does? What if they didn't keep it simple, but insisted upon doing it the most expensive way possible?)

I'm sorry, but the rest of this bores me. And annoys the living crap out of me. It is the same beast in a different costume. The same damned thing. I won't get bogged down discussing the same crap over and over again.

I am going to shut down the rest of the program at this point. This is belaboring the obvious by now.


resume the program

It appears from what Bob says, that the space program will be solidly in the hands of the private sector by the next election. That means that it won't be a political issue.

Question (Rob in Denver) came up about Musk's trying to get to Mars, and he said that he may not have considered it as well as he could have. Bob said he wrote a book about that Leaving Earth. Money not problem, he says, having the will to do it. Baffles him, he says. Can get his book on his website.

In fifties, most big science done by private industry. Musk, he says, doesn't need to know that now. He's getting the ball rolling. Government won't get us there. (I agree)

David says he may forbid emails, because he really wants phone calls.

Discussion about academia. Yawn. Will have to adapt, or go out of business. (true for anyone, anywhere, on any subject)

Comment by John caught my attention: More interest in educational value in a generic
sense than in actually solving a problem, unless moonlighting for a specific industry.

Real world v academia discussion. David is in academia himself, so he speaks from
experience here. Mentioned students activism leading to letters to Congress by graduates and undergrads alike. They can drive the discussion, he says. Ahead of the game. You can sign these letters, Seds letter (, future of human spaceflight.

Bob says universities are too dependent on government funding.

Another example which is analogous to the rocket problem in another post. Water recycling was too heavily engineered v the Russians system. More likely because they wanted to spend a lot of money as opposed to actually solving a problem.

Politics of climate science has warped the science itself. (comment: waste of money,
anyway in my opinion.)

Personal responsibility only process that works, he says. Process is a way to cover
your ass, he says. Needs personal responsibility. Government process is designed so that nobody will take the blame. ( David jokes about hate mail.)


Dr. Livingston is on again this afternoon, but I think I will defer on that broadcast today. I may return to it afterwards, though. The topic isn't that compelling for me, as I am most interested in propulsion, as opposed to guidance. I think guidance and control is definitely important, of course, but propuslion is more high priority for me.

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