Broadcast 897 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

24 Feb 2008 Donald A. Beattie
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Guest: Don Beattie. Don Beattie returned to The Space Show in order to continue our discussion about the current Vision for Space Exploration, NASA, and our future in space. Don started us off with a bit of NASA lunar history and then took us forward to three planned NASA lunar missions, GRAIL which is to use twin satellites to study the Moon's gravitational pull, another program to measure factors within the lunar atmosphere, and yet a third program to do penetration experiments of the Moon itself. Mr. Beattie posed the question as to why we are spending upwards of a billion dollars for these missions when we have already done similar experiments in the past and learned a lot about all three of these issues. He made the case that the NASA budget should be used on learning and researching new things, not revisiting old things. I made the case that we should be doing necessary human factors experiments in order to enhance our chances of maintaining a long-term presence in space. I invited listeners to call in with an explanation of why these missions were being planned as well as funded rather than new missions, but no such calls or comments were forthcoming during the show. Later in the program, Don strongly suggested that the NASA budget should reflect more spending on science and robotic missions rather than being top-heavy towards the human space program. Listeners and I asked him what the percentage should be and then I asked if he could calculate the probable delay in the manned program to return to the Moon for each percentage removed from the manned budget. This is an interesting discussion and I liked Don's idea of getting the task of doing this over to the GAO. If anyone has any connections with GAO, this might prove to be a productive task with important charts, graphs, and conclusions, whatever they may be. During the show, listeners asked him about Mars and what the business and economic case would be for going to Mars. You will want to listen to his comments on this point. We also talked about being a visionary in the space world, but holding on to the need to be grounded in reality. Don suggested that today's NASA is missing its focus on the aeronautics part of its mission. You definitely need to hear his discussion on this point throughout this program. As we heard, all our aviation today has been greatly influenced by NASA and he calls for a return of that work, influence, and progress. Later in the show, we discussed China, space militarization, and the private sector, especially space tourism. Please send your comments and questions to Don Beattie through me at



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