Broadcast 2795 Eric Berger

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Guest:  Eric Berger; Topics:  SpaceX goes to Mars, congress & space policy, heavy lift launchers, Blue Origin, much 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,  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

We welcomed Eric Berger, the senior space editor of Ars Technica, back to the show to discuss current space news, programs, and policies.  During our 1 hour 48 minute program without a break, we started with the hot topic for the show, the Musk talk about his plans for going to Mars as presented at the IAC in Mexico at the end of September.  Our guest had lots of comments about the plan starting with the Raptor engine which he said was substantive.  That said, he had lots of issues, especially since the Falcon 9 still had issues and Falcon Heavy was not yet flying.  The new big rocket, the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), is a huge leap forward over even the Falcon Heavy.  Related topics included funding issues for the ITS and the entire Mars mission plan, plus the lack of a business case or economic justification for the Mars mission at this time.  Doug checked in with us to suggest that Elon had suggested the new SpaceX satellite business might be able to fund the ITS and Mars mission. Eric clarified that statement for us.

Eric also talked about the congress and NASA regarding having a goal of going to Mars and Mars actually being the program of record for NASA.  Don't miss what our guest had to say on these topics.  It was also pointed out that the SpaceX Mars mission costs would escalate to the degree he partnered with the government or international partners. 

Michael Listner called and talked about multiple issues but one addressed the legal constraints, maybe obstacle facing the Musk Mars plans due to provisions in the Outer Space Treaty and his need to get a launch license.  This was an involved and comprehensive discussion so don't miss it.  Some listeners even suggested Musk might try to launch outside the US or move SpaceX to a foreign location to avoid US law.  None of us thought that likely but Michael also explained why such a tactic would not work.  Planetary protection rules were part of this discussion.

I asked Eric a few questions about general public interest in going to Mars.  Part of this discussion included finding out that both Congress and the White House did not have a human Mars mission or settlement on their priority list though they mention it in their respective rhetoric. 

I then asked Eric for his thoughts on a possible space policy regarding our two leading presidential candidates.  He had talked with people associated with the Clinton campaign but so far not with Trump's people.  He was also asked about the possibility of Lori Garver being the next Administrator if Hilary won the election.  He thought she would be a high level space consultant to Hilary but not the NASA Administrator.  Later, we learned that Trump would be visiting KSC next week and listener Jerry sent us a note about the Trump visit per the details known so far.  Jerry will be keeping us up to date on this visit.  A related topic that came up was the future of the JSC NASA center given the lack of missions for JSC at this time.

Doug called to talk with Eric about his recent lobbying experiences for his lunar concepts with members of the House. Doug was our guest this past Sunday talking about his lobbying experiences.  Part of Doug's call was to focus on doing missions more economically using a FH instead of SLS.  This is an interesting discussions do don't miss it. 

Later, Jim called to talk about extending the ISS to 2028 or later, the likelihood of that happening, and how the cost savings might be used were the ISS to be cancelled.  Another listener sent in a note about the pending Trump visit to KSC next week wondering if we would soon see a Trump space policy.  This reminded Eric of the Newt space policy announced before the Florida primary in 2012 and the downside for a candidate announcing an aggressive space policy. 

Eric addressed commercial crew and the program delays. Another topic included the possible NASA buy of Soyuz seats for 2019 given American launchers may not be ready by then.  This discussion then focused on the planned Dragon landing in the water and what that might mean for the astronauts.  I also asked about the cost of a water landing and the support provided by the Navy.  Before the program ended, Eric talked about Blue Origin, his visit to the Blue Origin factory, and the SpaceX Texas spaceport.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog on TSS website.  Visit Eric's site,  You can reach Eric Berger through me or his website.




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17 Oct 2016 Eric Berger
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