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Broadcast 1457 (Special Edition)Listen to the show!
Aired on November 12th, 2010
Guest: Dr. Robert Braun
Guest: Dr. Robert (Bobby) Braun. Topics: NASA technology for the future. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, In addition, please visit the NASA Chief Technologist website at as this website has the details to many of the programs and projects Dr. Braun discussed on the show. In our first segment which was about 75 minutes, Dr. Braun explained the Office of the Chief Technologist, its reporting parameters, its purpose, and the type of programs under its jurisdiction. He described the past and current status of Research and Technology (R&T) within NASA and how that is now changing and will continue to change into the future as more emphasis is put on R&T. He explained how they solicit ideas, the competitive nature of the program, and the two main areas, grand challenges and road mapping. Listener questions came in via email addressing the use of tethers, nuclear and advanced propulsion, and heavy lift rockets. Other email questions dealt with new technology changes for robotic missions and DARPA TTOs. Dallas called in to ask Dr. Braun for the top three technologies.. John also called in to talk about affordable and reusable first stage rockets and as you will hear, Dr. Braun said that reusability was useful if it contributed to more affordable space access. You don't want to miss this discussion. I asked Dr. Braun about technology partnerships with other governmental agencies such as DARPA and DOD as well as other national space programs as long as ITAR did not block such partnerships. Later in the discussion, we extended this question to partnering with private, commercial corporations with the profit motive. This is another important discussion you do not want to miss. Dr. Braun and I also talked about suborbital research opportunities and then I asked Dr. Braun about student as well as professor feedback regarding the new directions and changes being implemented in NASA and our civil and commercial space industry. Dr. Braun had much to say about this subject. Additionally, we talked about the need for government programs to show more stability and credibility over time than they currently do. Also, NASA and the space industry in general must do a better job of communicating the importance and need for space development to the public and to members of Congress. Other topics included heavy lift and propellant depots, and then I asked him about landing high mass payloads on Mars given his previous appearance on The Space Show last year regarding his paper on this subject. As you will hear, progress is being made on landing high mass payloads on Mars, but its still a huge challenge, especially for human missions. Toward the end of the show, Dr. Braun outlined his space vision for the future. We concluded the discussion with a segment on risk tolerance. Dr. Braun made it clear that this issue is vitally important to our space program development, both on the robotic and scientific side as well as the human space flight side of NASA. He talked about adopting more of the DARPA model and the need for NASA flexibility concerning risk tolerance. There was a short second segment for Open Lines for listeners to discuss the interview with Dr. Braun. I also used this segment to tell the audience about upcoming programs. Nancy called in with some heavy lift questions and I answered with my own opinion regarding shuttle derived systems but right now there is so much uncertainty until the FY 11 program is actually funded and in place and until we get a good handle on the new incoming Congress, that our future gazing crystal balls are fuzzy at best. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Bobby Braun, please post it on the blog URL above. You can also send your comments to

About our guest...

Dr. Robert Braun
Dr. Robert D. Braun was appointed NASA Chief Technologist in February 2010. He also serves as the David and Andrew Lewis Professor of Space Technology in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech, he leads an active research program focused on the design of advanced flight systems and technologies for planetary exploration and is responsible for undergraduate and graduate instruction in the areas of space systems design, astrodynamics and planetary entry. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Dr. Braun worked at NASA for sixteen years where he contributed to the design, development, test, and operation of several robotic spaceflight systems, including entry, descent and landing systems for the Mars Pathfinder, Mars Microprobe and Mars Sample Return missions. He is an AIAA Fellow and the primary author or co-author of over 175 technical publications in the fields of planetary exploration, atmospheric entry, multidisciplinary design optimization, and space systems engineering.

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