Broadcast 3563 Mark Whittington

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Guest:  Mark Whittington; Topics: The latest on returning to the Moon, presidential politics and space, space policy, commercial space international space alliances plus many additional topics and issues of interest.

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We welcomed Mark Whittington back to the program for a two segment 92 minute wide ranging discussion on space and the election, returning to the Moon, commercial space, the major space players, SLS cost overruns, planetary protection issues, lunar landers and more.  To simplify the program summary, I am once again repeating the Tags and Key Words below as they do a good job in summarizing the major discussion topics for this program.

Tags and Key Words:  Space news journalist, author, Curmudgeons Corner blog, election year politics and space, current return to the Moon policy, NASA SLS, Orion, Congress, commercial lunar landers, ISS, Lunar Lander competition with SpaceX, Blue Origins, & Dynetics, space exploration platforms, earth observation, Mars, first woman on the Moon, lunar timelines, Artemis project, The Artemis Accords, space tourism, planetary missions, UAE, Israel, public interest in space, Elon Musk, SLS cost increases, Elon Musk, Starship as a lunar lander, Starlink, NASA funding, "For All Mankind" alternative history movie, Asteroid Mining Company in the UK, rare Earth metals, gravity prescription, regulatory concerns, Planetary Protection, Space Force, China and space, international alliances and space.

Additional discussion topics arising from listener emails and phone calls included Mark talking about our plans for landing the first woman on the Moon, getting boots on the ground on Mars and funding issues for NASA and space in general.  He addressed economic issues including the rising US national debt plus a recent Chinese space economic paper that he referenced.  He talked  about the Artemis program being able to improve on the Apollo program economics of a 7:1 return based on the econometric studies of the time.  Listener Sandra specifically asked him about the proposed lunar return timeline.  Don't miss what he said about the target dates and the need to set a target date or a goal.  He brought up the selling of commercial seats with Space Adventures and both SpaceX and Blue Origin plans.  In addition, he mentioned Israel and the tech agreement with the UAE plus thought it possible Germany might attempt a mission to the Moon and partner with Israel.

Later in the discussion, I asked Mark about his estimate of the public interest in space based upon feedback to his many articles published in more general audience publications.  Listen to his commentary and how and why he reached the conclusions he mentioned on air.  Mark did bring up concerns about the pending NASA Authorization Bill, then I mentioned the latest news of estimates showing SLS to have increased costs by as much as a third.  Mark had much to say about this latter point.

Ft. Worth John called to talk about the SpaceX Starship serving as a lunar lander and that it would omit the need for SLS and Orion if successful.  Mark and John had quite the discussion this topic, one for sure you will want to hear. 

We started Part 2 of the program talking about finances for 2020 with Mark saying it was likely we would end up on a budget CR.  He also referred to my question from earlier in the program about public interest in space and suggested the increase in the number of space sci-fi movies and TV shows indicated a growing public interest in all things space.  He even mentioned a TV show with an alternate space history, "For All Mankind."  Listen to his telling of the storyline. He also said it was available on the Apple TV Network. 

Fremont John called to talk about beyond the Moon with free space settlements and asteroid mining.  He mentioned a UK company, Asteroid Mining Company.  John also mentioned the need for determining the gravity prescription for human spaceflight.  Don't miss this mini-discussion with John and Mark.

Listener Josh sent in a note asking Mark about his concerns for the regulatory environment.  In his response, Mark mentioned The Artemis Accords, private ownership and the Outer Space Treaty and more.  The subject of planetary protection came up with the possibility of stopping Musk from putting humans on Mars.  Mark had specific thoughts about planetary protection that you will want to hear.

As we were coming up on the end of the program, I asked Mark for the hot topics for the remainder of the year.  He suggested the topic of what exactly it will look like when returning to the Moon plus the matter of what our space goals should be.  He added in what we do concern China in space . 

Note that I posted contact and publication information for Mark on the blog.  Please post your comments/questions for Mark based on this program on our blog for the show.  You can reach Mark through me or his publications and blog per what I posed as a comment on behalf of our guest.




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28 Aug 2020 Mark Whittington
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