Broadcast 1624 (Special Edition)

23 Sep 2011 Frank Stratford
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Guest: Frank Stratford. Topics: Human Spaceflight to Mars via Frank's op-ed in The Space Review, "The Mars Consortium 2011 (www.thespacereview.com/article/1914). You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed back Frank Stratford to discuss human spaceflight (HSF) to Mars and his consortium idea on financing an HSF mission to Mars. Frank started out by suggesting that Mars advocacy had strong parallels to the earlier Apollo program. That said, he also said that until we had significantly lower cost and less risky space access, it would be unlikely for governments or the private sectors to mount an HSF mission to Mars. Given his analysis, he developed his Mars Consortium 2011 program which calls for a venture involving academia, the private sector, government, and others. Frank said over and over again, cheap space access was the main ingredient needed to make this happen. He then talked about destinations which became a big part of today's discussion. He drew parallels with the Wright Brothers but said space is empty, nothing like here on Earth, even when the Wright Brothers made history. R&D was brought up as well as the need for space markets. But the destination topic prevailed for the balance of this segment. Several listener email questions came in but we always came back to the need for cheap space access, lowering the risk and destinations. In our second segment, John called in from Atlanta to discuss the need for an RLV. I took issue with him as you will hear as I think before we talk about hardware, we need to know the mission, what it is going to be used for and why we are even doing it. I said just building an all purpose do everything rocket would not cut it. I also brought up RLV economics as compared to ELV economics if the markets and launch rates are not sufficient to drive upward demand for an RLV. Frank, John, and I talked about these issues for several minutes, working the discussion back to the consortium idea. But John held to his guns for the need for an RLV and corresponding R&D. We also talked about the Space Launch System, its very high cost, its confusing mission, and the probability it would be cancelled. This brought me to ranting about long term projects falling to a congress which only funds projects on a yearly basis. I said over and over again to John and Frank that our process was broken given how much time it takes to do a space project and the annual funding process. Frank offered that with a mission with a destination & timelines, these challenges could be overcome. What do you think? As we neared the end of our discussion, I asked Frank for an assessment of space enthusiasm in Australia for Mars and other space projects. We also discussed Mars launch windows as a listener brought this up given others saying we could go to Mars in ten years without considering the position of Mars relative to Earth to minimize astronaut travel time. If you have comments or questions for Frank Stratford, do post them on the blog URL above. You can also reach Frank through www.marsdrive.com. His email address is frank.stratford@gmail.com.

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