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Guest: Open Lines with Dr. David Livingston; Topics: Multiple space related topics including policy and economics, missions, NASA, India, technology, the latest public opinion polls, Apollo costs, Tic Tac plus additional topics of interest to the listeners.
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We welcomed everyone to our Open Lines discussion for one segment, one hour and fifty-seven minutes. I started the program by suggesting multiple topics of interest as noted above. Some of my suggested topics were brought up by listeners but listeners also had their own discussion topics in mind. Our first caller was Bill who pointed us to a superb blog post by Casey Dreier of The Planetary Society regarding the actual costs of Apollo. We talked about his analysis, extrapolating to modern day Artemis projected costs plus I added in my research on Apollo returns to the government and the taxpayer and the issues of our mounting debt, most specifically our unfunded debt. This discussion was thorough. We also returned to the budget debt and unfunded debt problem throughout the program. In the context of the debt, we talked about how it might play out against NASA, further space development, and going to the Moon. I suggested the economic way which is that the Moon and space are not affordable given the cost of the debt. For example, the interest paid on the debt is many times more than the NASA budget. For every quarter point raise in the interest rates, the added interest is typically more than the NASA budget, certainly more than the Artemis yearly and program costs. I also introduced the political side of the debt because the opposing party and those not liking space or wanting to go to the Moon can use it to justify their partisan and political opposition to the POR. All of this by the way is a bipartisan behavior of our elected officials and professional policy wonks and you can see it played out over the years with different administrations and how this or that space or this return to the Moon or off to Mars program gets cut or eliminated. A good article talking about the debt problem along with the unfunded debt which is roughly five times the debt can be found here at Real Clear Politics: www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/01/10/unfunded_govt_liabilities_--_our_ticking_time_bomb.html. While you may want to dismiss the conclusions of the author, the author does explain what is going on quite well. One can find lots and lots of scholarly and media type articles on these issues. I submit this one because it very clearly describes the debt and unfunded debt situation and what is meant by each. We welcome your comments on this subject and your thoughts as to how this might impact space and a return to the Moon if at all. Post on our blog and share your opinion with us. Before we moved on, Marshall called and also talked about the economic issues.
Freemont John called to reference the Gene Krantz testimony earlier in the week with a focus on unity and leadership as key to the success of the Apollo mission. I posted the link to the Krantz written testimony on the blog. We moved to talking about the "firing" of the NASA HSF director, Bill Gerstenmaier. Evidently there was frustration at the slow going of the proposed Moon program. You can find lots of news stories about the NASA HSF personnel changes but here is one for your convenience: https://qz.com/1664077/nasa-fires-top-official-over-moon-2024/ Your thoughts please -post on the blog. Before signing off, John suggested the private sector with Bezos would be the way we fund to the Moon. He also pointed the Amazon news release of pending around $700 million for advanced job training for their employees. John suggested this was a way into the future we all want.
Jay Wittner called to talk about The Integrated Space Plan, our sponsor, and their new crowd funding program to complete development of the brand new and revised Integrated Space Plan. You can find out more about their Kickstarter campaign by going to The Space Plan website and clicking on their campaign from there: www.thespaceplan.com. The direct link to the campaign is https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/486671231/race-to-the-moon-and-updated-integrated-space-plan-posters. Note that there are three incentives to the campaign provided by The Space Show, affording someone to be a guest on the show. The only requirement is to be able to access a good quality phone line. Now is the time for all of you who want to be a guest on the show and contact me to be told of our policy of not accepting self-invited guests. Now you don't have to worry about that and if you support The Space Plan, you are on The Space Show if you opt for this Space Plan benefit. The Space Plan is very cool but more to the point, an excellent and important outline of our path to becoming fully space fairing. I urge your support of this Kickstarter. Jay not only described the Kickstarter program but also the changes being made in the new Space Plan.
Kim called with comments about Artemis , SLS, the cost of space and the increase need for and use of great robotics. She mentioned that with AI, Mr. Musk has said that at some point this year the Tesla auto pilot would be safer than any human driver. I had a good laugh at that one, not at Kim, but at the statement given all the accidents the self-driving cars have including Tesla. Also, people seeing these cars being driven around San Francisco do their best to avoid them. I find it very hard to believe that a Tesla auto pilot system will be safer and better than a solid human driver (I'm not talking about human driving under the influence, stoned, having sex while driving, taking a nap, all sorts of other things I constantly hear about with Tesla and other auto self-drive car features as this stuff is reported almost daily in our local news). If it is reported that the Tesla or any car's auto drive system is safer than a human, I would really like to see the objective analysis behind that conclusion. I did suggest to Kim that this might be an age related resistance thing with those of us getting older resisting more than the younger folks. Once again, let us know your thoughts on this by posting on the blog. If any of you drive a Tesla with auto drive features, let us know what you think of it and if it is close to being able to drive better than a human later this year. Kim also talked about robotic missions needed for the Moon and I referred her to similar comments made by guest Leonard David earlier in the week. We talked about public opinion polls and people not knowing much or being poorly informed not having a role in policy making of any kind. Let us know what you think of her comments on this matter. Before signing off, Kim highlighted the upcoming Indian lunar mission launch which ended up being delayed. Everyone pay attention to the Indian space program. It really is a quality program.
Doug called to tell us about two new developspace.info sites he created. He posted both to the blog. I mentioned an email from Jeff Bell pointing out that France announced it was going to create its own space force. John Hunt then called to talk some more about Tic Tac and the information Jeff Bell sent us (I posted the two articles on the blog for this show) about the Navy advanced technology patents, China, the role of the Sec. of the Navy in getting the patents approved and more. John had much to say about experimental technology patens, the participants in the patent process, the researcher working for the Navy who supposedly created the patents (see the articles I posted to the blog) and more. One of our listeners posted the patent abstract to the blog so you should check it out for yourself. John offered an idea as to why he thought the Navy was attempting to secure a patent. Listen to his conclusion and tell us what you think of it on the blog.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. If you want to be in touch with any of our email listeners or callers, let me know.