Broadcast 1863 (Special Edition)

01 Oct 2012 Rand Simberg
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Guest: Rand Simberg. Topics: "Our irrational Quest For Absolute Safety in Spaceflight." You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, 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 Rand Simberg to discuss his views on space safety with human spaceflight. On the heels of his successful Kickstarter campaign to finance his upcoming book on the subject, he discussed his early draft book ideas on this subject. While the program was two hours in length in two equal segments, this summary will reflect our discussion without regards to the segments because our overriding themes and our discussion carried over from segment to segment. Rand provided us with the background for his interest in this topic, he shared some logistical information with us as to how Kickstarter works and then we talked about the topic. Rand is purposely provocative both in the draft of the book that I read plus in our discussion today. Rand wanted to be provocative to help drive the point that in his opinion, we need a national discussion as to the importance of our space program & missions. He points out through a good historical summary in the book and on the show that in past exploration and big projects, we were willing to risk human life to accomplish the mission. To be clear, he does not advocate carelessness, stupidity, or anything like that but he says if space is really important, the mission or the objective should be more valuable than the life of the crew. Since we pursue ultimate astronaut safety, it confirms that what we are doing in space is not important. He cited example after example of this & I brought in additional examples including DOD & our Rules of Engagement in our Middle Eastern wars as our military safety takes second place or worse to the policy goals. The Hubble repair mission was an example of NASA reversing the initial policy where clearly the administrator at the time would not risk a crew and instead would let the HST be destroyed. Dr. Griffin reversed that decision showing that keeping Hubble going was valuable and worth the human risk. We had lots of callers and emailers, some agreeing with Rand and others more or less in agreement with him but challenging him in some areas of his discussion. Rand has some terrific one liners in the book and he said some on air. One such impactful line can be found near the end of the draft version of his book that I have as he is writing about opening up the harsh frontier & needing a rational approach to the space safety issue by saying "If we really mean it, we will dedicate a (large) national cemetery to those who will die in doing so." Again, his purpose is to be provocative to make his point. Rand was asked if he has talked up his ideas to members of congress, staffers, policy makers, and such. Listen to how he responded to these questions. He was completely frank about it, including responding to questions about the impact his blog writings and those of others have on our current policy. Calling for a national discussion as to what our space policy should be, including how we value the purpose & the mission as compared to the astronauts is an important idea. If you have comments/questions for Rand Simberg regarding this two hour discussion, please post them on The Space Show blog above. If you want to email Rand, you can do so through me or his blog,



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