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Broadcast 1904 (Special Edition)Listen to the show!
Aired on November 30th, 2012
Guest: Dr. Roger Launius
Guest: Dr. Roger Launius. Topics: "Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space" by Dr. Launius, space policy issues, magical thinking. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. We welcomes Dr. Roger Launius back to the program to discuss his latest book, "Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space" which is a free download at During our first segment, our guest provided us with a short history of resolving challenges with reentry from space with human spaceflight. We discussed winged vehicles and capsules from a historical, practical, and engineering perspective. We also talked about DOD influence and the advantages as well as disadvantages of both types of space vehicles. One listener question asked about winged vehicles evolving from suborbital to orbital HSF. Terry called in with ballistic reentry questions about the V2 rocket & we mentioned museum locations where people can see a complete V2 on display. Another listener wanted to know if there were any winged vehicle concepts for Mars. Here, our guest talked about some science fiction examples but nothing for real on the drawing board. Our guest then introduced us to magical thinking and we talked about reality in space exploration as compared to fantasy. As this segment was ending, we talked about RLVs and reentry issues. In our second segment, we started off talking about the NASA budget and the potential impact of sequestration. Our guest said human spaceflight is the biggest challenge and in fact at one point he said we were just one banana peel away from losing HSF! This was in the context of access to the ISS with only the Soyuz and how fragile the access was until we had multiple ways of getting to the station. We then discussed risk and some of the issues raised on this subject by other Space Show guests that believe we need more risk to advance human spaceflight. Risk was also discussed in the context of hypothetical ISS recue missions with HSF vehicles not yet ready for prime time. We also talked about the value and purpose of HSF, including should settlement really be the purpose of it. We had a lengthy discussion on this subject. Both Roger and I suggested the purpose of HSF is a challenge, can be illusive, and is probably something larger and broader than space settlement. Don't miss his explanation behind his thinking. We also talked about spinoffs as a reason for HSF, the we addressed the lack of needed infrastructure, radiation issues, etc. Toward the end, we took some questions about SLS and heavy lift. Jane asked our guest about the visitors to the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian & if Roger could infer an increase or decline in the interest in space by the visitors or if the visitors had an awareness of the challenges facing NASA and HSF. Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. You can email Dr. Launius through me.

About our guest...

Dr. Roger Launius
Roger D. Launius is senior curator in the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A graduate of Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, he received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1982. He has written or edited more than twenty books on aerospace history, including Robots in Space: Technology, Evolution, and Interplanetary Travel (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); Societal Impact of Spaceflight (NASA SP-2007-4801, 2007); Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006); Space Stations: Base Camps to the Stars (Smithsonian Books, 2003), which received the AIAA’s history manuscript prize; Reconsidering a Century of Flight (University of North Carolina Press, 2003); To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles (University Press of Kentucky, 2002); Imagining Space: Achievements, Possibilities, Projections, 1950-2050 (Chronicle Books, 2001); Reconsidering Sputnik: Forty Years Since the Soviet Satellite (Harwood Academic, 2000); Innovation and the Development of Flight (Texas A&M University Press, 1999); Frontiers of Space Exploration (Greenwood Press, 1998, rev. ed. 2004); Spaceflight and the Myth of Presidential Leadership (University of Illinois Press, 1997); and NASA: A History of the U.S. Civil Space Program (Krieger Publishing Co., 1994, rev. ed. 2001). He served as a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003 and presented the prestigious Harmon Memorial Lecture on the history of national security space policy at the United States Air Force Academy in 2006. He is frequently consulted by the electronic and print media for his views on space issues, and has been a guest commentator on National Public Radio and all the major television network news programs.

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