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Guest: Curt Holmer; Topics, Bio-regenerative life support systems, models, closed loop life support, lunar habitats, Martian settlement, free space settlements, funding challenges, global life support research leaders and more.
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We welcomed Curt Holmer to the program to discuss his research work and Master's thesis, "Bio-Regenerative Life Support Systems Functional Stability and Limitations, A Theoretical Modeling Approach." During our two segment 96 minute discussion, not only did we focus on Curt's research and thesis, we asked our guest about closed life support systems, space food, progress being made in these areas, global life support leadership and when he thought our closed loop life support systems would be ready for humans to Mars and beyond. Curt said we were in a type of stagnation period. This comment became the focus of much of the discussion for the first segment. Both myself and listeners told our guest that we were confused given the rhetoric we hear from various sources and individuals within the industry suggesting we are ready now to go to Mars and live there or elsewhere in the near solar system, especially the Moon. Curt threw cold water on much of what we have heard and what was brought up during the show. A few listeners as well as myself attempted a brief analysis to understand the reality gap given the rhetoric and plans we hear about and what our guest was talking about. Don't miss our discussion. Let us know what you think about what was being said by both listeners and guests. Let us know by posting on our blog.
Curt received several questions asking about SpaceX closed life support for Mars missions and settlement. Note how Curt handled these questions. Our guest also talked about studying under one of the true Soviet Union space life support masters, Dr. Vadim Rygalov. Many of you will recognize the name as Vadim, before his retirement from UND, was a frequent Space Show guest on life support and related issues. Another important topic in the first segment addressed both simulations and modeling. Listeners wanted to know the practical value of a simulation or model. What they were really asking was how one goes from the theoretical to the practical or the "real" thing. Curt spent significant time talking about the value of models, simulations and the relationship of both to the practical. You will not want to miss this important part of our discussion. Our guest suggested that the key to stability was in the simulations and models. In addition, Curt was clear in making the point that there were still lots of unknowns.
We talked about food again later in the program. Most of our focus was on plants for human spaceflight and settlement. Curt said that meat would likely be simulated or synthesized meat. Plants would be made out of a vegetable like base.
Later we talked about the work going on at NAS, both KSC and JSC. Curt mentioned the Lunar Gateway project as well as ongoing life support R&D on the ISS. Fremont John called to talk about buffers (listen to what Curt said on the buffer subject). John suggested that Musk would have a big buffer (margin for safety) to detect any problems. John then asked about another simulation and modeling software discussed on an earlier Space Show program, SIMOC. Curt was familiar with it, had positive things to say about it, even over the software he used for this thesis. We next moved to the summary for today's program. Curt suggested funding was the big challenge and referred us to page 13 in his full paper. Curt told us about several conferences he would be participating in later this year, probably by virtual means.
Please post your comments/questions for our guest on our blog for this show. You can reach Curt through me or through the email address on his paper.