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Guest: Dr. Ajay Kothari; Topics: "Railroad to Moon And Mars," rocket options, payloads, rocket fuel, lunar return to the surface, lava tubes, Mars, spaceflight costs, human spaceflight & 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, 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. Ajay Kothari back to the show for this two segment 92 minute discussion regarding Ajay's plan to create a railroad type transportation system between Earth and the Moon and then Earth and Mars. Note that the Power Point Presentation by our guest, "Railroad to Moon And Mars" has been uploaded to our website page for this program. Dr. Kothari followed the PPT slides so for sure you need to access the presentation to get the most out of listening to this show. If you have a problem with the PPT on the website, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can troubleshoot what you report.
We started the discussion with Dr. Kothari talking about the NASA Administrator Bridenstine speech at the recent Humans2MarsSummit suggesting that space should be like the Transcontinental Railroad in opening up the west. Dr. Kothari then developed his plan which he said would a type of virtual railroad, especially from Earth to the Moon. At this point, Dr. Kothari turned to his presentation slides and started talking about capabilities with the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy. I suggest you take a look at his slide #4 followed by slide #5 which he discussed and explained in detail. Since Ajay went through many of the following slides in detail, I suggest you simply listen and pay attention to the particular slide he referenced. In summary, he talked about differences in payloads and tonnage to the surface of the Moon (later Mars) with a Falcon 9 or a Falcon Heavy, the difference made by a different choice of rocket fuel and also the difference based on what is done with the rocket's second stage. For the first segment, we covered the first seven slides. Note what our guest said about needed and very important Proof of Concept Flights. In addition, he mentioned several times over that with his plan both the SLS and BFR were unnecessary and should not be built.
During the first segment, besides fielding email questions, Marshall called to talk about Ajay's plan to use rigid tanks for lunar habs, putting them inside lava tubes. Don't miss this conversation and Ajay elaborated on his plan which as you will hear, included using inflatables inside the rigid tank which would be an insert in the lava tube. Marshall liked what he was hearing. Let us know what you think by posting on our blog.
In the shorter second segment, Ajay picked up with slide 7 again, then went on his discussion to slides 8, 9, and 10, detailing each of those slides. He spent time talking about and explaining the propellant fraction. Also, in this segment he talked more about the Mars program which he said could be done at the same time we were doing the Moon. When asked about the added of cost of the Mars program which was similar to the lunar program, he said at one point it would be about $600 million, then later he said it could be done for no more than $1 billion. He explained the propellant and mass issues for Mars.
A listener asked Ajay about humans to the Moon and Mars. He said that would come later when the cargo flights to the Moon and Mars were perfected, stable, and safe. Don't miss his comments regarding the human spaceflight focus. Listener Joan in Phoenix then asked him about Elon's plans with the BFR and getting hundreds of people to Mars. Several times during our program our guest said SLS and the BFR were not necessary with his railroad plan which could be done right away. In responding to Joan, he said that the SLS and BFR should not be built in favor of what he was talking about, that his plan was better, and that Musk and others would get on board with what he was talking about. Next, listener Linda asked him how he intended to promote his plan. Ajay said he did not have an answer to that question at this time. As a result of this, we talked about idea distribution plans for his railroad for the remaining minutes of the show. I made several suggestions for him on how to reach the NASA Administrator, key members of the Space Council and congress. I also strongly urged Ajay to tighten up his presentation given he would only have a few minutes for a meeting, even a meeting with a staffer.
In summary, Dr. Kothari repeated that his plan could be put into effect tomorrow if we wanted to do it. He stressed the economics of his plan and suggested that after the proof of concept flights, the railroad would be greenlighted. Make sure you hear what he said about this and getting the railroad plan in front of the right people.
Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Ajay Kothari on our blog for this show. You can email Dr. Kothari or through his company website at http://astrox.com.