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Guest: Dr. Kelly Weinersmith; Topics: Dr. Weinersmith' s upcoming book on the future of humans in space, space tourism, public and private sector issues and concerns, human factor spaceflight and settlement medical concerns, nuclear concerns, and much more.
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We welcomed first time guest Dr. Kelly Weinersmith to the program to give us a sneak preview of her upcoming book on the future of humans in space. In addition, we discussed several additional and very relevant topics with our guest. I suggest you check out the tags/key words which I have copied below as they provide an excellent quick summary(mostly in the order discussed on the show), all program discussion topics for today. As for the rest of this summary, I will focus on a few items that stood out from my perspective.
Tags/Key words: Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, future of humans in space, space settlement, space tourism, radiation concerns GCR radiation concern, microgravity, on the job training for human space medical factors, chimps and animal experiments, why leave Earth, backup plan for Earth disaster, protecting Earth, SpaceX, Mars Earth independence, Mars government, lunar private sector habitats, He3, lunar mining, the true believers among us, Overview Effect, utopia believers, Overview Effect interviewee follow up interview, surveys without bias, determining the gravity prescription, ISS research, bone loss concerns, mitigating protocols for microgravity deterioration, in-orbit centrifuge, fusion energy, nuclear propulsion, Vasimir, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX Inspiration 4 orbital flight, FAA astronaut wings change in requirements, Mars simulations, Skylab simulator, nuclear submarines as Mars analogs, CO2 problems, psychological problems, public vs. private sector space settlements, uncertainty and risk, FAA rule change for getting commercial astronaut wings.
Early in our discussion, I asked our guests for the challenges awaiting a future with humans in space. The usual big two were mentioned, radiation and microgravity, but our guest also mentioned GCR concerns and even the possibility of GCR lab research with chimps though it would likely not happen given animal rights and concerns in general with primate and large mammal medical research and experimentation. In addition, our guest mentioned some of the many psychological challenges but somehow we seemed to run right through the many sociological, family, community and probably spiritual challenges that will befall us as we create a future with humans in space playing a significant part in our lives. I followed this initial question and discussion with another asking why we even bother about going to space. Dr. Weinersmith listed multiple reasons including the idea that we need a backup planet should we destroy Earth, Our guest mentioned that Mr. Musk talks about this quite often. I mentioned that I had interviewed many people over the years that believe it would be better to invest the dollars and time into protecting Earth so a backup planet would not be needed. Don't miss this discussion. Let us know what you think by posting your opinion regarding a backup planet to Earth, probably with Mars being the backup planet.
Another topic for discussion that got my attention was the part where we talked about Mars independence from Earth with those living on Mars creating their own legal system and even their own constitution. Our guest suggested that SpaceX might already be working on documentation for something like that. The subject of humans on Mars, eventually gaining independence for the settlement from Earth (if possible), and then wanting their own constitution and legal systems interests me. I can't wait to see how all of that evolves.
Kelly brought up the Overview Effect. She said it was a powerful idea but listen to why she says she has worries about it. This led to a discussion about true believers, Utopia dreamers, and my suggesting that it would be interesting to follow up with those interviewed in the Overview Effect books, say five and maybe ten years later to see and gauge the ongoing and lasting impact of the Overview Effect. I'm not aware of such survey follow up research. Also, the survey questions would need to be carefully orchestrated to show no bias or leading for a result of the person being interviewed. I even suggested that as part of the book our guest was writing on humans future in space that she might want to do some of the follow up research since we know the names of the people interviewed in all of the Overview Effect books. As most listeners know, I do believe in follow up be it for something like the Overview Effect or a business plan award. I have often wondered if the company winning money in a business plan competition went on to use the money they won for their business and how did it turn out. If they used the money to take the biz plan team to Tahiti for some R&R, I would like to know that too.
Kelly got an email from a family member touting fusion energy. I asked her about nuclear propulsion or any propulsion being included in her book. She said no and explained why. We did talk about fusion, nuclear thermal propulsion and then later in the program Ft. Worth John brought up Vasimir. Going back to the Overview Effect, I also found it very interesting to hear that new moms were expressing views of the world very similar to the way Overview Effect responders talk. Don't miss what our guest said about new moms and the comparisons to the Overview Effect.
Freemont John called to let us know his hot button (his words) as what was needed was to find the gravity prescription. Listen to what our guest had to say to John's question. This call enabled a longer discussion on bone loss, research on the ISS, and the need for an on orbiting centrifuge. Ft. Worth John called to bring up Vasimir as reported early. We then got an update from another listener that Vasimir did successfully complete their required 100 hour test. Listener Ben brought up the topic of space tourism with Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Our guest had lots to say but one thing she suggested was that the space tourism so far was not really a step closer to space settlement but a possible driver for lower space access costs. We talked for a few minutes about the upcoming SpaceX orbital Inspiration 4 flight later this year. Also mentioned was the possibility that on this flight, the spaceflight participants might collect data per the new FAA rule change on getting commercial astronaut wings. We discussed the rule change but would like to know your thoughts on that. Please post your thoughts on the FAA rule change for getting commercial astronaut wings on our blog.
As we were moving toward the end of our discussion, Kelly brought up the subject of Mars Earth based analog simulations. This was an elaborate discussion but I urge you to listen to all of it. Hint: Our guest questioned the effectiveness of many of the Mars analog simulations underway here on Earth. Hint2: Nuclear powered subs as analogs. As we were approaching the program's end, space settlements came up with a question for our guest on which she thought were better, public space settlements and activity or the same but from the private (commercial) sector. No hints on the thoughts of our guest on this one so listen to how Kelly responded to the question.
Our guest offered us a brief summary of our discussion. Please post your questions/comments on our blog for today's program. You can reach our guest through me at The Space Show email address.