Broadcast 1558 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

15 May 2011 Dr. David Livingston
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Guest: Open Lines Discussion on 8th Grader student's letter. Topics: This is a two hour forty-five minute discussion concerning the issues raised by the 8th grade student in his letter to me. 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. Be aware that this is a two hour forty-five minute program with one break coming at 90 minutes into the discussion. The student's letter to me can be found on The Space Show blog at the URL above. During this program, we received call after call from different listeners as well as numerous emails concerning the student's perspectives on NASA, downsizing the organization, and reducing the budget for our civil space policy in the context of the student letter. Rather than summarize each caller and email, I'll simply say that I was surprised that there was so much support for the student's views on downsizing NASA and reducing the budget. When I commented on this, several of the callers sent an email suggesting that it had more to do with combating NASA and government waste rather than reducing the size of the space program. Unfortunately, we did not hear from the student as all of us had many questions to ask him to clarify his thinking for us. One issue that did come up was how best to inspire given what the student said about inspiration in his letter. Here I talked about science fiction and what other guests have said about the space reality or NASA TV not keeping up with the sci fi or virtual world. The also developed into an interesting side discussion. That said, all of us congratulated the student for his knowledge, awareness, and interest in space and encouraged him to keep it up as he goes through middle school to high school and eventually college. Do read the letter, listen to the discussion, and post your comments on the blog as to your thoughts on what this student had to say about NASA, inspiration, and our space program. Remember, he is speaking from the perspective of an 8th grader. I urge everyone to take his perspective seriously because he is representative of our future, not just for space, but for our nation. At one point during the discussion, listeners were suggesting different purposes for NASA. I asked listeners to send in the language form the NASA Charter so we could see the original purpose for which NASA was created. This caused quite a side discussion that you will want to hear. One of the listeners kindly sent in the URLs for this information and I have pasted them here: http://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html (this is the original NASA Charter) and the newer version of the charter at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html. The last caller of the day was Stephen from Edmonton and we talked about contests and prizes for inspiring the youth. He suggested that they be international and I wondered if he thought the U.S. taxpayer should fund award to people outside the U.S. or if such international contests should be sponsored by many of the national space agencies. We leaned toward a DARPA model and I requested listener assistance in finding the right person to do a DARPA program on The Space Show. Let us know your thoughts about what this student wrote me in his letter. That is what the blog is for. If the student and/or his family hears this program, I would welcome having the student and his parents as guests on The Space Show. You can contact me at drspace@thespaceshow.com

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