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Guest: Dr. James (Jim) Schwartz; topics: Jim's new book, "The Value of Space in Space Exploration" plus a wide ranging discussion on doing science in space as a priority over commercial, mining, resource usage and settlement.
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We welcomed back to the show Dr. Jim Schwartz to discuss his latest book, "The Value of Space in Space Exploration" and the need to prioritize space science over commercial space development, space resource usage, space settlement, and humans in space. Jim expressed the concern of humans and commercial/resource usage (robotic included), would contaminate Mars and other space locations so that science would be impaired which would mean our ability to learn about the universe would be severely constrained. Most of our program dealt with this concern. Once again, I believe the best way to summarize key points of the discussion is to reprint the Tags/Kew Words below as they follow our discussion topics throughout our one segment 93 minute discussion.
Tags/Key Words: "The Value of Space in Space Exploration," commercial space, space settlement, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Mars, lunar return, Artemis, prioritizing science for space, human spaceflight, space contamination by humans, sample return dangers, Starship humans to Mars timeline, China and the Moon, greed justification, resource usage, space mining, PGM exploitation, crowding orbits, space debris concerns, enforcement concerns, free space settlement, timeline for the scientific study of Mars, the Moon, & more, international lunar settlement plans, The Moon Village, science oversight, social issues for space development, reproductive issues, ethical concerns, disabled participation in spaceflight.
We received both emails and phone calls from listeners. Almost all of the listener participation was in support of Jim's positions. In fact later in the program I asked those listening to the live broadcast that supported commercial space, settlement, mining, to call in and discuss the issues being raised by our guest. No space advocates called the show. I even commented that it seemed as if advocates wanted to preach to the choir but ducked out of a challenge when someone had different ideas that could be supported in a meaningful and important discussion/debate. I hope that for you the archive listener, you will challenge the positions put forth during the program, both by our guest and the listeners calling and emailing the show. The only rule we have is civility for your comments.
There was quite a bit of discussion about Mars, planetary protection, Musk and his Mars settlement plans. The same for the Moon and the Artemis program. A few of the listeners suggested Jim find a way to have ten minutes or so private conversation with Elon so that Elon would "get it." The same for Bob Zubrin. Don't miss these listener comments and what Jim had to say in response. I also asked Jim if he had yet had the opportunity to meet and discuss his ideas with Musk, Bezos, Zubrin or others. The answer was no but once again, listen to all of what our guest had to say in response to my question. While I personally know Bob and Elon, and while I had a strong opinion about what would happen in such a meeting, I purposely did not express any thoughts as to what would happen in such a meeting. That said, I do believe both Bob and Elon would listen to Jim but that his arguments would not be persuasive with either space proponent. I would actually like such a meeting to take place, make it public or at least record it. I believe it would be very instructive for all interested parties.
Much was said during the show about oversight and groups deciding what is ok, what is not ok, what is good science, what is bad science and then of course I asked about enforcement and who gets to sit in judgment of what can and cannot be done or what is good and what is bad. Jim talked about this in some detail throughout the program as enforcement, oversight, and the concept that space for all should include participation by all as part of the process. This was a dominant theme during the program. Post your comments about this on our blog but again, civility is the rule. While Jim has not yet had the opportunity to meet and talk with Bob, Elon, Jeff and others, he has been a speaker at some space conferences and before some space groups. He was planning to be at ISDC 2020 before it was cancelled due to the virus. He may be able to attend and speak at ISDC 2021 in Los Angeles but that is still an open question as to ISDC even happening. Another point Jim made early in the show and was part of the theme I just mentioned was that the commercial space efforts of all kinds were part of capitalist greed. We talked about this later in the show. Looking back on it, I wish I had spent more time talking about capitalism in space as I personally don't see people striving to make a profit with a commercial space business as engaging in greed. don't deny there are greedy players in all businesses and professions, even among our elected representatives who don't ever seem to collect enough of our money for their agenda needs to be financed by our increasing tax obligations. I suspect greed is part of the human experience though it likely varies in intensity among players. Of the commercial space business men and women that I know, I honestly don't see motivation by greed.
Additional topics included the application of what Jim was suggesting to the concept of free space settlements, i.e. O'Neillian settlements. Later in the show human reproduction in space came up in terms of settlement needs. Jim had much to say on this topic, the ethics of the issues, and even the ethics of attempting to do human experiments in this field on Earth or in space concerning reduced gravity and radiation concerns. In my opinion, Jim and lots of other thoughtful folks have every right to be concerned about developments in this field with spaceflight and eventual settlement. I'm very concerned about it too. Another topic was the idea of a Mars Sample Return being brought back to Earth or was that too risky. Listen to what our guest had to say on returning samples from Mars or elsewhere. This has been a hot topic of late for The Space Show, partially due to our collective Covid-19 experience. Many of us can't help but think "Andromeda Strain!"
Earlier in the program, I asked our guest if science missions could coexist with the commercial, mining and settlement interests. Once again, don't miss what our guest said in response to this coexistence question. His response might surprise you. Later, I asked about national security and DoD space usage. This was not an area specifically followed by our guest but he did speak out about weapons and other activities potentially harmful to scientific process. Our guest told us he was not particularly nationalistic about space and talked about great science being done around the world, in space too, even by our adversaries. .
Many of you will not be supportive of much of what you hear in this discussion but these are important issues to discuss and not everyone in the space industry or our general population believe the way most Space Show listeners believe regarding settlement, space commercialization, space mining and opening space up rather than limiting it to scientific study. Your commentary on the blog is encouraged. Remember, the only rule is civility which includes no personal attacks.
In summary, on behalf of our guest, I posted several websites and links in the comments section for this show. You can find Jim's book on Amazon or the Oxford press site link in the blog post just mentioned. Remember, if you buy his book through Amazon, using our OGLF Amazon link on our home page so that Amazon will donate a part of the purchase price to The Space Show.
In closing we talked about his coming work and Part 4 of his Space Myth series. If you recall when Jim was first on the show, we did three separate programs with him regarding his Myth Series for Myth 1, Myth 2, and Myth 3. You can find those archived program by searching our website using Jim's name.
Please post your comments/questions on the blog for this show. You can reach Dr. Schwartz through me or his personal website, The Space Philosopher, which has a link on the blog comment I just mentioned. Note also the posted information about the Wichita State University space programs that may interest you or others. Those programs are also linked on the blog comment I posted for our guest. Jim is a controversial guest for The Space Show. He challenges us to consider and respond to important questions. I look forward to his return to the program.