Broadcast 2055 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Dr. Dennis Bushnell. Topics: We discussed Dr. Bushnell's paper, TRL for space development & how best to move forward with civil space. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, 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 back to the program Dr. Dennis Bushnell, the NASA Langley Research Center Chief Scientist. Dr. Bushnell discussed his paper, "Advanced-to-Revolutionary Space Technology Options-The Responsibly Imaginable." which can be downloaded at In the first segment of our 1 hour 26 minute show, Dr. Bushnell summarized the findings in his paper and talked about how we are still building on technologies from the 50's and 60's that were based on "living better with chemistry" and ICBMs. We began talking about advanced propulsion including nuclear, but our guest made it clear throughout our discussion that what was needed was a reduction in the cost of space access by a magnitude of 10, not by two which is what is happening with new commercial rockets coming on line. In fact, later in the show when discussing commercial space, Dr. Bushnell was clear that to close a commercial space business plan the reduction in launch costs by a factor of ten was absolutely essential! I asked our guest to tell us where the bottlenecks were and he said it was in the culture & big cultural changes were required to move forward. He also talked about the need to experiment and try lots of options and ideas, to triage them, down select, fly them, and choose the best based on the engineering process he described. We talked about the low technology readiness level (TRL) of many of today's space ideas and technologies, that we have become focused on instant or near instant gratification but that the process he was talking about would extend over a 25 year period. Given this, his paper is a frank and factual discussion of many of our space industry segments, a no nonsense, no Kool Aid TRL analysis of much of what we talk about and say we can now do in space or will be doing in the near term. Safety was discussed, including microgravity, radiation, plus a mention of unknowns regarding what we already know about gut bacteria exposed to radiation given our limited amount of research on this topic to date. A listener asked him about physics as a main reason for space exploration and contrasted that to settlement as the main reason for HSF. Another listener asked him about his mentioning USAF comments that indicated space was a mature and declining industry. We began talking about commercial space, but we talked about it through the second segment as well. In this segment, Dennis talked about how we have created economic growth in the past but now we have not only the challenge of economic growth but sustainable jobs and sustaining our standard of living. Terraforming Mars was discussed as part of our discussion about Inspiration Mars and Mars One HSF missions to Mars. As this segment ended, a listener asked him about suborbital space and citizen science projects. In the second segment, John Hunt called in to talk about the high cost of many advanced space technologies, plus he wanted updates on LENR (this used to be called cold fusion). Dr. Bushnell had much to say about LENR and it potential, we talked about Rossi, and the NASA work being done to better understand LENR effects. With an understanding of it, funding would not be as big a problem as it is today. He also said LENR had the potential to be transmutational. Our guest suggested that for more information, we visit the Larsen LENR slideshow: Again, he pointed to cultural issues as major stumbling blocks to this research. In returning to the focus of his paper, he said there was no shortage of ideas but the culture was preventing them from being tried, tested, and exploited. Rocket reusability was brought up, our guest mentioned the SpaceX Grasshopper work, and he was asked about SLS and fuel depots. I asked about BLEO issues and radiation. In response to another question, he said that were he the space guru, he would focus on "energy" and structural materials. You will want to hear this discussion. Later, Tim called from Huntsville about radiation and HSF to Mars, as well as the economics of the Big Dumb Booster. I asked Dennis about the target audience for his paper and he said it was meant for NASA and the world since space fairing is a world endeavor. He again talked about potential revolutionary technologies which are needed and which would benefit all of us. He repeated that we must do the difficult and take the risk and invest. We also need to look forward with multiyear planning. Near the end of the program, Dennis was asked about space elevators which he was not enthusiastic about. Again, he repeated that we needed to make investments to raise our TRL levels. At the end, I asked why space does not rise to importance in presidential campaigns & elections. He said space was very good as an Earth utility but beyond that, there was no clear basis for most of it and that was the problem. Don't miss his comments on this topic. Our final topic was his assessment of commercial space given his years spent working on it with NASA including budgets into the hundreds of millions to find a way to close a commercial space business case for commercializing the ISS and other things. This is a very important short discussion, don't miss it. Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. You can email Dr. Bushnell through me or you can find his address using the NASA email locator.



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23 Jul 2013 Dennis Bushnell
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