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Guest: Robert (Bob) Zimmerman; Topics: US Presidential Election and space, Artemis, commercial space, national security space, the Space Force, Elon Musk, White Nose Bat Fungus extinction event and more.
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We welcomed Bob Zimmerman back to the show for a nearly two hour program in which we discussed a variety of topics, including the recent 2020 election and its potential impact on all things space. The discussion kicked off by talking about the risks for Artemis with the 2024 timeline Also SLS and Orion. Bob thought the program would continue regardless of who won the presidency though the timelines may differ with one administration over the other. He pointed out that the House has yet to fund the program going forward so again, he pointed out he did not see much change coming, at least in the near term.
Bob was asked about the possibility of a Biden administration increasing regulations that might interfere with the commercial space business. He said it was possible but did not at this time see a clear space mandate with the Democrats so he did not know what they would or would not do re regulations or the commercial space industry. Later in the discussion he said they would likely want to see it grow and prosper as it would mean wealth for congressional districts.
Bob was asked about national security space and the new Space Force. Following that discussion, Todd from San Diego asked about the entrepreneurial segment of space and the capital markets. Once again, don't miss what Bob said and I bet you are surprised by his comments.
Elon Musk, SpaceX, Starship, Mars, returning to the Moon were all topics that got lumped together in a broader Musk and SpaceX discussion. Bob had lots to say about all of these subtopics, including the light pollution argument focused on Starlink. After having lumped together the above subjects, Bob pointed out that for events remaining for 2020 there was the upcoming Chinese lunar sample return Mission scheduled for Nov. 24, 2020. Bob described the Chang'e 5 mission, how it would gather up a lunar sample for return by drilling about 2 meters into the lunar soil, then making a lunar rendezvous with the orbiting capsule for the voyage back to Earth. Jim from Denver sent in a note for Bob asking about the Chinese Mars mission underway right now. In talking about this mission, Bob mentioned the probable landing spot on Mars, the rover mission and his posts about it on his Behind The Black website.
Speaking of Mars missions, Bob talked about the US Perseverance mission headed to Mars and the landing at Jezero Crater, finding flat spots to unload the "helicopter," and see if their drone can fly in the Martian atmosphere. Bob was also asked about the UAE HOPE mission to Mars which he described given it involves the US and the Japanese.
Listener Karen wanted to know if Space IL would attempt another lunar landing. Bob updated us on Space IL, the loss of several key people to Firefly who is making a new kind of launch vehicle. Bob did mention Space IL raising some money but not enough to develop another lunar program.
I asked Bob a question about Elon Musk given comments made about him, Space and my son's age group per questions that came up when my son was recently on the show talking about the film made during the Los Angeles lockdown. Michael was asked about his peers and their interest in space, then about Musk. Briefly, Michael said everyone knew about Musk, liked his innovation and work but were not so hot about him personally. Bob commented on this saying this was because young people today have an anti-capitalism education and orientation/perspective. That particular topic never came up with Michael during his recent interview and was not introduced into today's discussion other than by Bob who made the assumption that younger folks who do not like Musk do so for that reason along with other reasons. Bob did one of his predictable rants on the topic within the context of the Musk comments. I told Bob that Michael did say his peers were familiar with Tesla, The Boring Company and Hyperloop, other Musk activities but were not so familiar with specific NASA programs.
This conversation prompted a call from Doug of Parabolic Arc to add to the mix that people are not wild about Musk because of his behavior. Doug then cited several examples of objectionable Musk behavior, including the more recent example of Musk defying the California pandemic rules regarding keeping Tesla closed during the lockdown. Bob unloaded on Doug and did not stop talking though Doug also continued talking at the same time. You will hear me attempting to break into their heated discussion to stop it but I was unable to do so until Bob quit talking. Doug then went after Bob and I finally stepped it and brought the discussion back to space topics.
Larry sent in an email asking Bob if he knew if the California space industry had deteriorated over the years because he had not heard me talking about it or lobbying for it in Sacramento as I used to do. We spent some time discussing space in CA but as I said, I was not up on the industry stats but would do my best to get current information for the next Open Lines show.
Ft. Worth John called to inquire about the future for SLS and Orion. Bob and John talked about Boca Chica, building Starship with private not federal money but with a federal reserve on hand for future work. Bob explained this to us. This was a fairly full discussion on the topic so to pay attention to it. Bob talked about Super Heavy and a possible upcoming flight test for this particular rocket.
As we were nearing the end of the program, June from Seattle asked Bob if he would like to go to space. Be sure to hear his reply. How about sharing your comments with us on what Bob said by posting on our blog? Before ending the program, Bob updated us on the White Nose bat fungus we have talked about on other shows. Recall that Bob is a caver and has been around bats and knows quite a bit about them. He has followed the white nose fungus issue for years. He said it was an extinction event but talked about how the surviving bats were learning to live and cope with it. It was an interesting discussion, one that I believe you will appreciate and enjoy.
Bob offered us concluding comments with a short focus on the transition to commercial space being almost complete. He then said if Musk moves to Mars, it will be to make money. He continued on saying that Musk sees commercial opportunities in what he does so making a profit will always be part of the deal.
Please post your comments/questions for Bob on our blog for this page. You can reach him through me or his website, www.behindtheblack.com.