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Guest: Robert (Bob) Zimmerman; Topics: SpaceX Starship progress, NASA lunar program, Congress, budgets, private sector excitement, tax dollars vs. private dollars and much more.
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We welcomed Bob Zimmerman back to the program for a two segment almost two hour discussion on many topics, some of which were familiar topics to Space Show listeners and Bob Zimmerman programs. I started the discussion by asking Bob to tell us what he thought was the most exciting thing for today in space. Without skipping a beat, he mentioned the SpaceX Starhopper tests and the progress being made by SpaceX for the Starship. Bob was thorough in his discussion which covered many additional factors, subtopics and issues for most of the first segment. Listeners called and also asked questions. SLS and Orion were discussed as part of this overall conversation and at times listeners wanted to know if Bob had a good grasp on the point in time when Starship or private rocketry will intersect with SLS and Congress will cancel SLS. Bob had much to say on this topic so listen and then let us know what you think by posting on our blog.
Other topics in this segment included India and the Moon plus what is now being referred to at the New Colonial Movement (www.spacedaily.com/news/spacetravel-05zh.html). As part of this additional discussion, Bob talked about Team Indus and also Firefly which he said was working on lunar landers with former members of the SpaceIL team. Bob also mentioned the UAE Mars probe Hope.
Marshall called in response to a listener asking for an update on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Marshall asked Bob fundamental questions about the new, cutting edge, and costly technology of JWST that Bob had previously described, they talked about space and terrestrial telescopes, new technology and manufacturing techniques and the thinking that adaptive optics have made Earth based telescopes almost the equal of space telescopes. Bob was quick to jump all over that assumption so don't miss what he had to say about it.
Doug called to talk about his having met Bob in Tucson, then Doug suggested an alternative construction idea for space telescopes. Bob seemed to like the idea but deferred to people who knew space manufacturing and telescopes much better than both Doug and him. Doug and Bob talked about China, docking, and various missions, plus the software and hardware delays for Orion. Don't miss all of this discussion. Before getting off the phone, Doug asked Bob for his process that he uses in doing deep dives and background analysis in space stories. Bob talked about his process in detail. What do you think of it?
Other related topics came up. Bob mentioned the news that the company OrbitBeyond was pulling out of its lunar lander contract with NASA which was nearly a $100 million dollar deal. Bob suggested a cause but said it was an unconfirmed rumor. You can hear what Bob said by listening to this part of our discussion.
Still on the topic of space telescopes, Tim called in from Huntsville and eventually got around to talking about light pollution concerns from potential LEO satellite constellations. Don't miss what Bob had to say about this concern. Once again, let us know what you think by posting on our bog.
I asked Bob what he thought the public wanted in terms of our returning to the Moon given the three recent polls and that have been discussed on this show. Bob had much to say about public opinion. As a quick but not complete summary of the discussion, Bob indicated that going to the Moon with private money with people like Musk and Bezos was much preferred over using tax dollars. He talked about the excitement that Musk and Jeff bring to the table compared to NASA That said, he also expressed some concerns about Blue Origin. Listen to what he said about Blue and why he is starting to have concerns. Once again, we really would like to get your thoughts on these matters posted on our blog.
Near the end of the show, space budgets came up and Bob brought up the national debt (not me for a change). I joined in after Bob talked about the issue. I also reminded everyone that the unfunded debt was around five times that of the national debt but just as much of a liability for it. We talked about policy makers and congress folks kicking the can down the road only to realize that someday the can grew so big it can’t be kicked anymore. Bob called all the people contribution to the debt and spending problems irresponsible. Bob said that several years ago he wrote a paper on how he would spend NASA money were he in charge of it. The paper, "NASA, the federal budget, and common sense" can be found here: https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/essays-and-commentaries/nasa-the-federal-budget-and-common-sense.
As we were coming to an end, Bob spoke out for the NASA planetary mission, SLS John called to talk about SLS needing new leadership, and space policy in light of election years. Before we ended, Bob told us about his ongoing tabulation regarding the global launch rate plus private US rockets mixed in with the other national launches. Bob said that in total, China had the most launches so far followed by Russia and then SpaceX was one launch behind Russia, but only two launches behind China. He said this ongoing and updated chart was on his home page, www.behindtheblack.com.
Please post your comments/questions for Bob Zimmerman on the blog for this show. You can reach Bob through me or his website per the above link.