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Guest: Casey Dreier; Topics: "Reconstructing the cost of the One Giant Leap" program, Apollo related program costs and analysis, SLS, return to the Moon policy, public interest in returning to the Moon and more.
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We welcomed Casey Dreier of The Planetary Society (www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier) for a 97 minute two segment discussion focusing on Casey's June 16th research paper, "Reconstructing the Cost of the One Giant Leap: How Much Did Apollo Cost"? See www.planetary.org/apollo50. Our guest started the discussing by jumping right in on why it was so difficult and challenging to determine the actual total Apollo cost and they to adjust that cost to 2019 dollars. Casey spent time with us going over the traditional Apollo cost number, $25.8 billion, plus he broke it down for the cost of components. As you will hear using his own analysis, he included rocket costs (Saturn V) plus Gemini. Listen to his explanation as to why Mercury was not part of his Apollo lunar cost analysis nor were the early days of NASA. Casey then talked about the use of inflation adjusted indexes. He told us why he used the NASA New Start Index over the CPI. His initial inflation adjusted costs were more than a quarter of a billion dollars but then when all components were added in, the costs were close to a billion dollars. Listen to all of what he said and did for his financial and economic analysis, take a look at his paper and then let us know your thoughts on these numbers by posting on our blog. Note that we spent a fair amount of time on this part of our program during the first segment.
SLS was brought up so our guest worked it into his economic Apollo analysis for a compare and consider session. Follow the numbers as Casey provided them so all of us could work with them. Lots of components, variables and considerations were part of this complex discussion. After several callers and before the break, Casey offered concluding comments about SLS, why he did not think it would be cancelled even when listeners pointed out that Starship would prove successful and be more than competitive. Let us know what you think about his conclusion and his commentary suggesting why SLS was not a competitive project to the large rockets being developed by the private sector.
In the second segment, we talked about the lunar Gateway and the appeal to congress of it being an international project. Casey had much to say about the international aspect and why that would mean it would be a hard project to cancel, even if we have a new administration. In fact, our guest received several listener questions about our lunar and Mars policy plus our private sector human spaceflight effort should we have a change in administrations as a result of our coming election. Let us know if you agree with his analysis.
Gene from Pasadena called to again advance his idea that using climate change and SSP, we could drive commercial space development and the return to the Moon plus the commercial space industry. Don't miss what Casey said about this idea. I also made a few comments, mostly about my not wanting to use fear to motivate pro space policy decision making. Gene made several good points and many of us do support SSP regardless of our position on climate change. Once again, we ask that you share your thoughts with on these concerns by posting on our blog.
Judy sent in a note asking if a different administration took over would they kill our Moon program. Casey suggested some elements might be killed, including the 2024 landing, but he thought the Gateway would survive and maybe some other components as well. Don't miss his full response to what Judy asked. Note that he drew upon recent experiences with the Obama administration as a type of guide to what may happen with a new and different administration taking over in January 2021. Before the program ended, we had other email questions on a variety of topics including one by Dr. Doug suggesting that a Starship success would doom SLS. Listen to why Casey disagreed with Dr. Doug. Helen, taking up from an earlier question, specifically asked if Mr. Musk could be delayed by a new administration set of HSF rules and regulations regarding humans to Mars. Listen to why Casey disagreed with Helen. Finally, Casey offered us concluding comments, he pointed us to his five episode podcast regarding Apollo per the above address and made a pitch to support The Planetary Society.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Casey through his blog address above or through me.