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Guest: Dr. Jeff Bell; Topics: Dr. Bell was vintage Jeff Bell for everything NewSpace and Old Space on this program. 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, www.thespaceshow.com. 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 www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Dr. Jeff Bell back to the program. This program was vintage Jeff Bell as he took jabs at everything NewSpace as well as everything Old Space. During the first segment of our 2 hour 30 minute program, Jeff responded to a listener question about PR and educational outreach with ESA since the days of their Titan probe. Jeff had some good things to say about the changes at ESA plus he compared ESA very favorably to NASA. In many ways, Jeff thought ESA was doing a better job than NASA.
Next, Jeff turned his attention to XCOR and the demise of the Lynx, then he expanded his comments to cover the entire suborbital industry. He did make a mistake talking about the Lynx taking off on turbo jets but listener John from Montana quickly corrected him. Jeff provided comprehensive comments on the Lynx, then Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and the industry in general as we discussed why it appeared so hard and to take so long to develop the suborbital space tourism spacecraft. During this discussion, Jeff went back through history to talk about the models being used for most of the suborbital spacecraft today including the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, X-2 and X15 vehicles.
Jeff talked about the underfunding of the companies given how much it cost to develop new aircraft. In response to Jeff's comments, I pulled up the aircraft development costs for the Boeing 787, the A380, and the Cessna Citation Columbus biz jet. While I was searching for the cost data, Marshall called in from the Dallas area so Marshall also commented on the relevance of aircraft development costs along with their testing programs as compared to what was being spent on suborbital spacecraft development costs. Jeff chalked most of the rationalization for the lower vehicle development costs to the lack of FAA certification and regulation which exists for aircraft. Let us know what you think of that but for sure don't miss what Jeff had to say on this subject as it covered most of the first segment.
In the second segment, Jeff cited examples of misleading or untruthful comments from aerospace companies as he said he no longer trusted anything said by any space company including both NewSpace and Old Space companies. His discussion included several comments on the Soviet N1 rocket. His examples focused on statements made by SpaceX and Rocketdyne.
Next in the crosshairs was Mars One but for a different reason than you might think. He was objecting to the demeaning press Mars One has gotten yet the SpaceX Mars plans get exactly the opposite type of coverage. He had much to say about that. I pointed out that SpaceX and Musk had not yet announced their plans while Mars One has put out lots of information on their program via their website and countless interviews by Bas. Jeff seemed unaware that Elon Musk plans to reveal his Mars plans at the IAC at the end of September in Mexico. He said he would take a good hard look at the plans presented and probably come back on The Space Show to talk about them. I look forward to that discussion. During this conversation, Jeff, as to be expected, had other barbs to throw at Mr. Musk and others. One of these barbs focused on the Musk comment about doing a quick terraforming job on Mars by blowing off nukes over the Martian poles. I read excerpts of one of the many articles covering this comment per an email from Sara in Seattle who read about it in the Christian Science Monitor. This prompted Jeff to offer many comments and insights over nuclear weapons and bombs.
Jeff was then asked about reusability. He expressed his view that SpaceX would be better off to recover the stages from the ocean and made the case that spending a short time in saltwater would not prove to be a problem. He also talked about payload penalties for landing back at the Cape and landing on the barge. These penalties were the driver for his comments about recovering the stages from the ocean.
Jeff had on his agenda for this show the possibility of Trump or any president ending manned spaceflight. I told him why I did not think that would happen regardless of who the president was. What do you think about the points Jeff made regarding this discussion? Let us know with a blog post.
Other topics mentioned included Jeff thinking that NewSpace/Commercial space was in a space bubble. He thought that the physics behind limitations in micro electronics would soon be showing up throughout the commercial space industry. He also said it was hard for many of the NewSpace companies to follow up and follow through with their plans. He then mentioned Falcon Heavy, the new book on Iridium, Tesla, and communication satellites. Listener Adrian sent in a note in response to Jeff's comments on the JWST regarding small optics and new technology development.
Jeff was asked about finding life on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system in the context of planetary protection. He was not positive about doing so. When asked about Viking and Dr. Levin's experiment, he was far from positive. He did not think that the planetary missions were revealing lots of important new information which he said was a cost factor regarding newer and better instrumentation so it was getting harder and harder to get a big payoff from these missions. Don't miss the full message he gave us regarding this subject.
Please post your comments/questions in comments section of this archived program on The Space Show website. I will make sure Jeff sees them but based on past experience, he does not typically reply to comments or most emails and he has asked that I don't share his email address.