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Guest: John Bucknell; Topics: Rockets, SpaceX, Mars, Moon, nuclear propulsion, orbiting lunar habitat, and the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket plus more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed John Bucknell to the program to discuss rockets, the BFR, lowing launch costs, SpaceX and Mars, an orbiting lunar habitat, nuclear propulsion, investment and finance, advanced technology and more. During our one segment 2 hour 7 minute discussion, John started out by responding to my question asking him for his perspective on the latest SpaceX Mars plans as presented by Mr. Musk at the IAC in Australia. Don't miss what John had to say about the BFR, timelines, the rocket consolidation plan and more.
An addition topic that we discussed throughout the program focused on going to the Moon and building an orbital lunar habitat rather than a lunar habitat on the Moon's surface. For the last 20 minutes of our program, John described in detail his concept of an orbiting lunar hab so be sure to listen to what he said about such an orbiting type of space station. We then took our first email question which was from Joshua who asked specific questions about consolidating the F9, FH, and Dragon into a one size fits all rocket, the BFR. John suggested this was the continuation of evolving the SpaceX technology and thought it could prove satisfactory. He suggested it was a natural progression of mostly already developed technology and hardware. Don't miss all of what he said in response to Joshua.
The subject of how to finance the costs involved in commercial space, new rockets, lunar travel and more. John said it was clear we would not be doing anything like the old Apollo program again. He did say that we could do more in the future but we would do it differently with the private sector. He talked about new manufacturing methods and the need to have a strong business plan showing a solid path to a return on investment. He cited a commercial space telescope company as a role model in this area.
Tim called from Huntsville to discuss advanced propulsion concepts. Tim raised some rocket economic issues and nuclear propulsion policy concerns. We talked about nuclear propulsion policy and fears and how they likely interfere with developing a nuclear rocket. This opened the door for John to talk about his concept of a Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket (NTTR). John has presented his idea at several conferences over the past few years and again this year at the August Starship Congress even in Monterrey, CA. You can easily find the videos and presentations for his NTTR by searching for John Bucknell. Note that his LinkedIn site is his website. If you want to see the latest iteration of his NTTR design, check out the Starship Congress 2017 video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=778NLOXs7JI. John told us why he got interested in nuclear propulsion and then he spent considerable time explaining in detail his NTTR concept. We covered the technology, timelines, economics, disaster scenarios on launch, radiation shielding, policy, people's nuclear fear, and much more. This discussion was a major part of our program so do pay attention to it. I also strongly suggest you watch the video of his presentation at the 2017 Starship Congress event as that will you understand it all given his use of visuals which of course are not available for radio.
As I do with most guests who have good ideas, I asked John for his implementation plan and how he might advance his concept and idea. He talked about venture capital financing and the challenges with it, possible economic drivers including space tourism and space solar power providing launch costs can come down.
Ft. Worth John called and talked about his NTTR rocket. Ft. Worth John had lots of questions and comments for our guest John. John B. suggested he check out his AIAA 2015 Propulsion Conference paper and he provided the AIAA ID number so would could find and download the paper. In addition, if you search for the title of the paper, "The Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket - A Conceptual High-Performance Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion System," you will find several interviews with John along with different versions of the paper and presentations. The web is full of information on his concept, both directly from John and from others.
Later in the program John was asked about the Raptor engine for SpaceX. Don't mis what he said about it. He also talked some more about the BFR 2017 version as compared to the 2016 version. Note that he said the performances differences was marginal. I asked him to explain that which he did in detail. We talked about market and demand for the BFR and again he cited tourism and SSP. We talked about one of the risks for his rocket was that SpaceX would mess up and sour the market or the regulatory environment for later addition rockets entering the market. His NTTR would be later competitive rocket. John though the risk of a SpaceX screw up was very small. Listen to what he said about this issue.
The last topic of the day was John's concept of the lunar orbital habitat. He referenced LCROSS finding water ice on the Moon, especially at the lunar south pole. John then spent the last 20 minutes of the program describing how the water ice would be used to create the orbiting lunar habitat for maybe up to 100 people or more. What John presented for us was a detailed plan for this orbiting habitat so listen carefully so you don't miss anything. It’s a very interesting idea. It is also a package deal with his NTTR concept.
As the show was ending, John mentioned he wanted feedback. He said he was disappointed that he does not typically get a lot of feedback and asked me why that was. He also inquired about possible conference he might expand toward and speak at regarding his ideas. I offered him my idea as to why feedback might be tough for him but I hope listeners to this show will sound off and post blog comments for John. I will make sure he sees all your comments. John then said his email address was on all his videos and talks so if you want email John directly, that should not be hard to do. Of course I prefer you post to the blog so we can all benefit by the exchange but the key thing here is that John does want feedback.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach John through me or his email address which you can find on his presentations.