Broadcast 1253 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Dr. Jeff Bell. Topics: Augustine Commission, NASA budget, human spaceflight. Dr. Jeff Bell returned for this two hour program in three segments. During our first segment, Dr. Bell started a discussion about how the internet and blogs have impacted the space cadet community, both for the good and the bad. Don't miss this interesting discussion. Dr. Bell then began addressing the Augustine Commission findings and talked about budget issues given he pointed out NASA budget problems as early as 2007 in a article. He said he was very disappointed with the options as there was no deep analysis of the manned space program, asking the hard questions about why we have it, what it has accomplished, and so on. Listener questions asked about other nations and their moon programs. Listen to Jeff systematically address the major space programs of most nations and their capabilities. You might be surprised by what he says. NewSpace was introduced in this segment and he talked about the fact that Augustine probably underestimated budget requirements for the NASA programs. You will want to hear what he says and check his reference back to the full Augustine report. In our second segment which goes for about an hour, Jeff address space advocacy groups and talked about some of the comparisons with NewSpace and the early days of aviation and barnstorming. Later on, questions came in about NASA management capabilities and the ability of the U.S. to actually manage large technical programs. Dr. Bell had much to say concerning both of these questions. Listeners asked him about commercial space so you definitely want to hear him talk about this. Jeff then discussed fixed price and cost plus contracts for the aerospace industry. Jeff posed the question about many NewSpace companies using volunteer labor and asking what constitutes a hobby rocket company from a commercial rocket company. In response to another listener, he said that unmanned rocket programs made more sense than human spaceflights and that its hard to justify human spaceflight. Toward the end of this segment, Jeff talked about LCROSS and heaped lots of criticism on the project. The LCROSS discussion went into the start of the next segment too. In the third and final segment, our LCROSS discussion continued with Dr. Bell saying it was a bad mission. He then proceeded to outline the characteristics of what constituted a bad space mission. He also said it was a NASA PR disaster. He said the same but for different reasons for the Deep Impact mission. Toward the end of the program, I asked Dr. Bell about Hawaii's interest in a commercial space tourism spaceport with Rocketplane. Don't miss what he had to say about this. When asked to summarize his comments today, he said that the Augustine Commission report was disappointing. All vehicles are too costly and that NASA should reconstitute itself as the old NACA and develop spaceflight vehicles that were low cost in space access, operations, and even an RLV. Then this technology should be made available to the private sector. He would kill the existing programs in favor of this approach. He said that space development and the human spaceflight program were not a romantic novel from a previous century! He said the NACA like suggestion in Augustine was the only real and acceptable things in the entire report but that it was barely noticed. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Bell, please send it to me at and I will forward it to him. Please note that Jeff is very slow about replying to emails, if at all. He will soon have new articles appearing in Be on the watch for them.



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08 Nov 2009 Dr. Jeff Bell
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