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Guest: Robert (Bob) Zimmerman; Topics: Bob introduced us to his new book, " Conscious Choice" and explained why it was connected to our future in space. Also discussed space tourism, Blue, Virgin, SpaceX and lots more during this two hour program.
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We welcomed Bob back to the show with a lead in to his new book, "Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space," plus we talked about the topics mentioned in the tags and key words which I have repeated below. This short program summary will focus on parts of our discussion that stood out - at least from my perspective.
Tags/keywords: Robert (Bob) Zimmerman, Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, Early Virginia history, building new societies, fundamental values, British colonies, Northern British Colonies, culture, technical development, exploration, ebook, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, suborbital tourism, ISS, orbital tourism, SpaceX, Northrup-Grumman, Bezos open letter to NASA, Blue Origin offering pay up front costs for Blue Moon Lander, Blue Moon Lander team, Blue Origin delays, BE4 engine, media quality concerns, anti-space rhetoric, concern over possible regulatory constraint, SLS-Orion benefit from Blue Moon Lander, SpaceX and government contracts, improved odds of lunar 2024 landing, Artemis bypasses the OST, nuclear propulsion, suborbital price reductions, balloon flights as an alternative to suborbital flight, Space Perspective high altitude balloon company, astronomy complaint about Starlink, ground based telescopes, orbital telescopes, the 8 meter telescope, U.S. rates #37 in math education, home schooling, public schools, scarcity economics, desalination of water for the west, nuclear power for the grid, Israel, UAE, blackouts and brownouts, cost effective alternatives, 2022 abundant commercial spaceflights, SpaceX and Inspiration 4 orbital flight late 2021, Ars Technica, SpaceX has built 100th Raptor engine, Blue Origin BE4 not flight worthy with only 4 examples, private space stations, Axiom, U.S. completing transition to private space.
Bob spent more than half of our first segment talking about his new book "Conscious Choice." Though the book focuses on slavery, it has lots to do with space and Bob did an excellent job of connecting the dots for us. I strongly urge you to listen with sharp ears to what Bob was talking about as he hit on an important aspect of humanity moving out into space, aspects that seldom get talked about. Note the example I threw in from my written summary of the most recent Sunday Space Show program with guest Dr. Kelly Weinersmith. Unaware of what Bob's book was about, I read a passage from my program summary of the Sunday show which I wrote early Tuesday morning. Notice the connection to what Bob talking about and his connection of important dots with to space settlement and eventually living off Earth. After hearing what Bob had to say, both in terms of his book summary, plus what we need to pay attention to (but are not) regarding moving off Earth, post your thoughts on this on our blog for this show. Bob, myself and others want to hear from you so make that happen. By the way, as with all Space Show guests, programs, ideas and such, all are welcome so post away.
Upon completion of the early part of the program with a focus on Bob's new book, I asked Bob to summarize for us the recent Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic successful commercial space tourism flights. Bob started out by saying if they had taken place five years ago they would have been considered groundbreaking but not now. Bob did an excellent job of explaining this so don't miss what he had to say. Our guest further elaborated on the fact that starting later this year and on into 2022 there will be numerous, maybe even monthly commercial space flights, including to the ISS, some of which may be orbital, and this will establish the entry and lead to routine human spaceflight via the private sector. Listen to his conclusion about this.
Our first caller was Caleb from Nebraska. Caleb asked Bob about the Bezos Open Letter to NASA protesting the award to SpaceX for the human lander, then additionally offering to have Blue pick up the front end development costs of the Blue Moon Lunar Lander. Bob had much to say about the lander controversy, SpaceX, and Blue Origin. Not all of what he said was kind to Bezos and Blue. Bob also referenced the Blue Moon team comparing it to the fact that the SpaceX lander is all in house. Bob went on to mention Blue delays, problems with the BE4 engine and lost time with previous do nothing management. He suggested that Jeff had to focus on getting things right and start building stuff, specifically the big rockets. Bob stressed he wanted to see competition in the industry so he wanted Blue to find its way and get going so to speak. Again, what do you think about all of this? Tell us by posting on the blog.
Next, Bob addressed the media with not many kind words. He did shout out for excellence Bill Harwood of CBS News and Eric Berger of Ars Technica. He said most of the media was amazingly ignorant. He also cited the poor reporting on finding phosphene in the clouds of Venus with the media reporting may live would be found on Venus. Do you share Bob's view of an ignorant media? Let us know. You know what to do, post your thoughts on our blog for this show.
I took the liberty of asking Bob for this thoughts on the slew of anti-space reporting and op-ed or article writing in multiple print and online publications. Bob citied envy and jealousy as the cause but while that may be true, I suspect other factors are at work. Before breaking for the start of the second segment, Bob was asked if he was concerned about an overly regulated market or constraint on the emerging commercial space and human spaceflight industry. Bob said he was concerned. We talked more about this subject later in the second half of the program.
We started the second segment with a call from Ft. Worth John suggesting that getting Bezos back in the lunar lander game was likely good for SLS-Orion. Don't miss Bob's chuckle, then reply. While Bob said that may be true for the short term as Bezos is more dependent on SLS, he thought such a move would ultimately slow down the overall project. Bob continued his theme that SLS will go away as it can't complete. He said it was just a matter of time. Once again he stressed that he was wanting Blue to get into the game and be a competitor. John mentioned SpaceX government contracts. Bob said they were leverage to keep the government jobs from being killed. Listen to all of what Bob said on this point. Bob went on to say that he thought there would be a better chance to see a lunar landing in 2024 under the Biden Administration. He said Artemis was a good project and it was attempting to bypass restrictions in the OST through this bilateral approach.
Listener Jim from Denver sent in a note asking if Bob thought that this time around we would develop nuclear propulsion as he mentioned a few funded projects working on it. Bob was upbeat about the chances for nuclear propulsion but I guess we wait and see. Listener Barbara sent in a note asking when suborbital prices would drop. Don't miss Bob's reply. Bob also thought that high altitude balloon ventures might be a good, lower cost option. He mentioned the company Space Perspective as possibly providing more "bang for the buck." Roger in Phoenix asked bog about the conflict going on in the astronomy community and Starlink. This started Bob off on his preaching platform. He said he had no sympathy for astronomers. Talked about the need for orbital telescopes, not ground based telescopes. Listen to all of the points and comments made by Bob, then you decide and let us know what you think. Yes silly, on our blog.
I took the liberty of asking Bob about a report I saw saying the U.S. was rated number 37 in nations in math capability. This concerned me so I asked Bob to comment. Wow, talk about the flood gates letting go. Bob had a much to say on our educational system and even talked about home schooling which came up a few times more in the segment. Since Bob was on a march, I asked him about my ideas for more nuclear power and water desalination plants to offset the economics of scarcity now in play in the western part of the US with blackouts, brownouts, demands to use on renewable forms of energy and the draught. Bob pointed out that the costs would be much higher and as a society, we were not there yet and not ready to invest in the cost of desalinization plants plus nuclear power. Bob commented on badly run states and how our leaders distribute water and power. While I understand the economics, I'm not so sure that people would not support the development to have stable power, undisturbed agriculture and other benefits of a modern world over rationing and periods of no power whatsoever, otherwise the policy of economic scarcity. I also mentioned that this type of approach to things concerned me for the future and for space and other tech fields which are essential for humanity going forward. While it may be brownouts and draught now in the west, in ten years the bad decisions and the inept resource usage plans might be curtailing R&D, innovation, space development, who knows what. Clearly I would like to avoid such situations which I see as possibilities down the road.
Marshall called to chime in on home schooling as he did home schooling for his kids. Since I know very little about home schooling, I took the opportunity to ask Marshall questions about how home schooling works. I know it was not really a Space Show topic but I was interested in it and being flexible is an important characteristic for me in hosting Space Show programs.
Bob began a summary of the program by talking about the many upcoming commercial flights later this year and next year. He also mentioned planetary research, spoke to missions about the moons of Jupiter while still maintaining the focus on Mars. Dr. Lurio was our last caller. Charles mentioned an Eric Berger Ars Technica article pointing out that SpaceX had completed its 100th Raptor engine while Blue had only built 4 BE 4 engines, none of which were flight ready. Charles and Bob talked about the problems with Blue and Bezos and what was needed for Blue to become a real competitor. This was an interesting discussion and a great way to wind up our program.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this program. You can reach Bob through me or his own website, www.behindtheblack.com.