Broadcast 3067 Mark Whittington

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Mark Whittington;  Topics:  Mitt Romney senate campaign in Europe and his return to Moon policy, commercial rocketry and SLS options, lunar lander, SpaceX, Blue Origin, policy, NSC, 1st black astronaut & 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 Mark Whittington back to the show for a two segment 94 minute wide ranging discussion mostly focused on our return to the Moon policy.  Mark started out by referencing his tagline regarding "The Great Utah Moon Debate."  He explained that this was based on Mitt Romney running for senate in Utah and his 2012 Republican Florida primary comments about firing anyone wanting to invest in anything to do with the Moon. Romney's comments were in reply to the debate comments offered by Newt who advocated a return to the Moon as the US space policy but then went into more detail talking about making the Moon our 51st state and saying things about the Outer Space Treaty (OST).  Mark explained that 2012 Republican presidential primary debate topic, the purpose of Romney's comments and why he wrote an op-ed about Romney, returning to the Moon and US Space Policy in a recent edition of the Salt Lake City Tribune.  Mark went on to mention the op-ed reply by a retired professor who said returning to the Moon was science fiction and the reply to the professor by Dr. Paul Spudis.  Mark's reasoning for all of this was to determine if Romney had a space or return to the Moon policy, to let him know the good reasons for returning to the Moon and the value returning to the Moon represented.  A good part of the first segment of tonight's show focused on Romney running for senate, our developing space program and going back to the Moon, the National Space Council and suggestions for lunar advocates to go to Romney and other candidates town hall meetings and ask them to clarify their space and lunar policies.   In addition, we talked about space as a Utah industry.  There is a space presence in Utah with multiple Orbital ATK sites for both national security space as well as commercial and civil space.  Thus it would seem logical for a candidate for the Utah senate seat to formulate a space policy as that would be in the interest of Utah residents and the Utah economy. Later in the segment, listener Sherry in Portland sent Mark an email asking him for his expectations in raising the Romney lunar connection issues.  Mark said he had no expectations in doing this but listen to all of what he said in response to Sherry's email.

John from Ft. Worth called and talked about the Romney-Newt lunar debate issue from the past.  He said Newt went way over the top and thought that might have helped trigger the type of response Romney made at the time.  Mark offered more insight regarding Romney's goal of knocking Newt out of the primary which did happen.  Then Mark said regarding the OST, most commercial companies today want to operate within the OST terms, perhaps with some modifications to it.  He referenced the new Luxembourg space law as an example. 

Other topics addressed with John on the phone included Falcon Heavy launches for the Moon, the BFR timeline and potential, the use of Falcon Heavy for the Moon and then Mark went off on a rant about the need to confirm Rep. Bridenstine as the new NASA Administrator.  Mark had much to say about the two Florida senators and why they did not support Bridenstine, plus he continued to strongly advocate Bridenstine.  I pointed out that Bridenstine had opposition from both parties and many thought that due to the lack of his experience in certain areas, he was not qualified for the job.  Mark dismissed all of that and continued to champion Bridenstine for the NASA position.

We started segment 2 with a call from Marshall.  Marshall had more to say about Falcon Heavy and then said that the SLS was a white elephant.  He thought an operational BFR would be a huge paradigm shifter.  He also talked about extending the life of Merlin Block 5 engines to ten launches.

By this time, the advocacy for everything rocketry with the SpaceX name on it, the return to the Moon developing policy, and the Bridenstine issue caused listener Paul to send in an email suggesting to Mark that he and others were counting their chickens long before they would hatch given all the plausible future talk and possible hardware developments as opposed to reality.  You can bet that Mark and other listeners dismissed Paul's concerns but make sure you listen to what Mark said as he explained his position in the context of Paul's email.

Dr. Doug was our next caller.  Doug provided information on tonnage to the surface of the Moon re FH as compared to SLS.  Mark and Doug talked about other comparisons numbers between FH and SLS, especially with regards to the cost arena.   Mark mentioned that NASA only planned to get footprints back on the Moon by the late 2020's due to not wanting to upset the NASA budget process and amounts.  He pointed out that this was one of the reasons NASA was talking about spinning off the ISS to private operations by 2025.  Next, Doug and Mark talked lunar lander issues.  Don't miss this part of the discussion as the lunar lander is critical to returning to the Moon.  Mark also talked about the lander in the context of the DSG and doing missions to and from the lunar surface.  More was said about SLS, the lander, the DSG and the budget process.  Mark mentioned that both the ISS and the shuttle program were funded and successfully managed over various presidential terms. 

As we were about the close the  program, Mark wanted to talk about the black history subject of the first black astronaut.  He then briefly told the story of Major Robert Lawrence.  Had Major Lawrence not been killed in a plane accident, Mark said he would have possibly been a shuttle commander and the first black astronaut to walk on the Moon.  Listen to the story Mark told us.  You can read his article on the subject at

Mark offered closing comments, talked about the National Space Council meeting that would be Wednesday morning, Feb. 21. He also mentioned the people nominated to be on the National Space Council Users Advisory Group.  You can see the list of the candidates selected at

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Mark through his blog or me.




The Great Moon Debate in Utah!

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20 Feb 2018 Mark Whittington
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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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