December 15, 2016 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

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Embedded below the fold. I like John’s title for this podcast: “Trump Administration Will Make the Moon Great Again?”



  • LocalFluff

    I would like to see Dr. Paul Spudis as NASA administrator. He is The world leading Lunar scientist and has lead several NASA robotic missions to the Moon. Judging from his public appearances, he is strikingly intelligent, systematic, consistent, productive, efficient and very passionate about exploring the Moon. He has suggested a plan for how to explore the Moon, beginning today and within budget and steadily grow it into large scale colonization, if that would be desired in the future. One word characterizes his way of planning: realistic. And he is not afraid of being controversial, he does not compromise with his views (e.g. about Mars and SLS), which seem to be more of logical conclusions rather than just some emotional ideas. I think he would give NASA a very clear vision, strong leadership and a very efficient space exploration mission campaign. Within a decade astronauts would jump around on the Moon like happy girls again.

    A guy like Bolden seems content with just hanging around while not accomplishing anything. It is not all his fault, but his job is to fix what is faulty and he hasn’t done that, because it would be laborious and inconvenient. I don’t understand why that kind of personality even cares about taking on leadership positions. Maybe if salaries were cut drastically for top management in society, we would get rid of that kind of parasites and get some visionary doers instead.

  • Alex

    LocalFluff: I support your idea regarding Dr. Spudis, who wrote some friendly and supportive e-mails to me.

  • Wayne


    >On board, with Dr. Spudis!

    “I will build a subspace graviton field and I will make Bajor will pay for it.”

  • LocalFluff

    Great that he’s on tour these crucial transition months. NASA will of course not do any Moon mission without involving him. But I think that the “debate” about where to go needs to end now and if the Moon is the decision then the best Moon guy should head it all. He is not “only” an academic (and the best one when it comes to the Moon) but he has managed real space missions and he obviously understands business logic and political incentives such as security policies. His public personality combines determination with vision, realism and energy which would make him a good organizational leader.

    One could argue that with reusable launchers we don’t need Lunar fuel. And that going to the moons of Mars is about as easy as going to the Moon’s surface. But all of this will be done, it is just a question of in which order they will be done, where we should begin. And as far as I’m concerned, pick anything. Just make sure it really happens. There’s an irrational and hysterical opposition against going to Mars. Radiation, microgravity, astronauts becoming psychotic during long term missions and most pathetically this “planetary protection” mumbo jumbo about space aliens. Instead of fighting these idiots, who will confuse political decision makers with their nonsense, it is much easier to go to the Moon. I’m so happy to sense that this might actually happen now, very suddenly. I suppose that within a few months we will have formal decisions being made about it. I’m sure NASA already has a comprehensive plan recently updated and ready for action. That’s something one doesn’t even need to ask them to do. Human travel to the Moon is NASA’s soul.

    I just saw that Paul recently has updated some ideas about Lunar exploration:

  • Wayne

    Good Spudis stuff!

    Completely agree on the ” “…planetary protection” mumbo jumbo…”

    I’m going to have to counter-differ with you slightly on Mars; radiation en-route is an existential danger. And those jello-muscles on the surface, aren’t going to fix themselves.

    Totally tangential–
    Remember when OJ Simpson, went to Mars?

    Capricorn One – Trailer

  • LocalFluff

    As a contrast, Elon Musk, while also a visionary and a great achiever, say such strange things. That we need Mars as a backup for Earth. That might be true on a million year time scale, but we don’t need to worry about Earth breaking like a piece of glass on its 4,567,000,001st birthday, so that kind of argument isn’t very relevant for what we should do now. It isn’t a motivator for action, it is a fiction rather than a vision. And his imagined methane rocket launching hundreds of people at once to Mars much faster than Hohmann transfer times is such an unrealistic suggestion and poor trade-off that it doesn’t qualify to more than a media attention grabber.

    I think that NASA will go Lunar and nuclear, leaving Elon Musk and his Mars, Solar, batteries and methane on the sideline for a while. This is the problem with political uncertainties. Musk was perfectly positioned for climate change fear, nuclear fear and a diffuse space policy ending up on Mars somehow sometime. But an election suddenly changed all of that (it seems to me, we’ll see).

  • LocalFluff

    “I’m going to have to counter-differ with you slightly on Mars; radiation en-route is an existential danger. And those jello-muscles on the surface, aren’t going to fix themselves.”

    Radiation shielding is just a matter of mass of water or plastics launched. And the spacecraft architecture, making sure that astronauts sleep in the radiation bunker (which they need anyway in case of Solar particle events) and spend almost all other time near a central radiation shielding mass, shadowing almost half of the cosmic radiation. No new physics needed. And what’s at stake is just a few percent increased cancer risk later in life. It is not existential, it is a life style choice.

    Muscles and skeleton adapt to Martian gravity. They optimize to the new environment (which is a pretty fantastic thing since we’ve never evolved outside of 1g). The weakness will we compensated by the lower Martian gravity. Maybe some will have eye problems, oh well sorry, Mars isn’t for everyone.

    The elephant risk in this room where all these idiots are chasing mosquitoes, is the mechanical risk. The risk of explosion or depressurization or power outage or or or. Especially launching from and landing on Earth, the event that has killed ALL the 18 astronauts who have died during space travel. I don’t know of any single astronaut having been injured by radiation or microgravity, or even injured in any other way as in hitting the thumb with the hammer. Microgravity is actually a great accident prevention. Falling is a common mode of accident causing injuries on earth, that is impossible in space and harmless on low gravity Moon and Mars. Ergonomic problems also disappear when you float freely. The space environment isn’t worse than the Earth environment, it is just different.

    Anyway, some kind of mental mafia spams the world with arguments against humans spending long time in space, and that definitely tips things over to the advantage of the Moon because it is right here like a dog in a leash. In fact the Moon is as dangerous as Mars, because it requires at least as many crewed launches and landings, but that is not widely understood in the confused general “space debate” so it doesn’t matter.

  • Cotour

    “it is a life style choice.”

    Cancer potential increase is a “life style choice?”

    An interesting interpretation. Would muscle wasting and bone density trade off’s also be a life style choice?

  • wayne

    Enjoy your Passion & Flair!

    Muscles will, of course, adapt to Mars gravity, but not until you actually get on the surface, and there won’t be any people waiting with lawn-chairs to drag them out of the capsule.

    I’d just say as well– water weighs around 7lbs per gallon. If they don’t make water off-world, it’s going to be expensive to launch all this water (and the “radiation bunker.”)

  • wayne

    good one.

  • LocalFluff

    Smoking is a life style choice. Many times more deadly than a trip to Mars cancer wise.
    We will all die soon, life style is a matter of how we choose to die, and for what reason. Those who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity will have difficulties in space travel, but everyone doesn’t have to adapt to the ones less suited.

    The lawn chair reception of landed astronauts is just for show. They have no problem with walking on Earth after six months in microgravity (i.e. a rational trip time to or from Mars).We can do Mars without simulated gravity by rotation. Maybe not much further than Mars, but Mars is enough in our lifetime. Our kids kids might figure something else out, but that’s their headache.

  • LocalFluff wrote: “The lawn chair reception of landed astronauts is just for show. They have no problem with walking on Earth after six months in microgravity.”

    This is false. Though astronauts can walk after six months in space, they are generally weaker and have serious balance issues, especially in the first few hours. In addition, the changes to the spine and vascular system are not something to be lightly dismissed. While the lawn chairs are not necessary, they are a wise choice by the Russian support teams that find and pick up astronauts after landing.

    After a year in space, the Russians found that most astronauts were more seriously weakened. To experience the higher G forces during a Mars landing, and then be forced, without aid, to walk and work on the surface, after a year in space will be difficult, at best. And I am not even mentioning the loss of bone density in the weight-bearing bones.

    These are issues that have not been solved, and anyone who makes believe they aren’t issues is going to be badly surprised on the surface of Mars.

  • LocalFluff

    What injuries have microgravity actually caused?
    Doesn’t seem to be epidemic. Medical research better focus on malaria or cancer or such instead, to save millions of lives.

    Many astronauts have flight certificates and driving licenses. How many of them have lost them because of microgravity injuries? 100? 10? 1? None???

    Only in laboratories specialized on this kind of medicine is it possible to even detect these very slight differences in health caused by spending a year or so in microgravity. It isn’t even clear whether they improve or degrades health. For the 18 astronauts who burned up in the atmosphere, even I would be able to give a basic medical diagnose for their corpses, and it isn’t good and has nothing to do with radiation, microgravity, psycho-hysteria or planetary protection from and of space aliens. So that is how it is.

    Working on Mars or the Lunar surface is much easier because of the lower gravity. Even after 6 months in microgravity, you can set world records in sports when you arrive at Mars. You’re a human. You’re the master of the universe. You are a superman on Mars and even more so on the Moon.

  • Edward

    I would like to reiterate that we no longer have to choose either the Moon or Mars. We seem to be moving into an era where it is commercially possible to develop bases at both locations. In fact, as Dr. Paul Spudis has noted, the value of the water at the Moon’s poles is that it can be used to make it less expensive to get to Mars and other locations throughout the solar system, thus a choice of going to Mars would benefit by first setting up a water-mine on the moon to provide inexpensive propellant. The lunar base would also provide for a multitude of other explorations and uses that would help make it far more valuable than just as a propellant mine.

    ULA’s Cislunar-1000 idea may sound like 1960s dreaming, but we now have more than just two space agencies making their limited-funding choices as to what to do in space. We now have several companies with their own ambitions for making money in new ways in space. We also have several decades of experience that tells us what is practical, what is not so practical, and what is unsafe.

    We have a couple of decades or so of interplanetary transit experience that show us that we can get to Mars faster than the Hohmann Transfer Orbit without using much additional propellant. We also have enough experience to deduce whether it is worth using additional propellant in order to use an even faster transit to Mars in order to reduce the health effects experienced in deep space. Getting propellants from the Moon may make the faster transits inexpensive.

    Over the next few years, as we move more people into working in space, we will find solutions or mitigations to the radiation, vision, muscle and bone loss, and other health problems, but these will require more samples, or test subjects, than we have had over the past half century or so of manned space travel. And yes, LocalFluff, even though licenses aren’t lost, and whether or not it is easier to work in reduced gravity environments, these are degradation of health; they would not be concerns, otherwise — and they are considered injuries — and plenty of people are concerned, especially those afflicted.

    Although so far we have only lost people during launch and reentry, we have seen several dangers mid voyage. Apollo 13 came shockingly close to being fatal, we did lose astronauts during a ground test, there was a collision and a couple of near collisions with MIR, and a couple of out of control fires on MIR. We have been more lucky than skillful with these mid-mission mishaps, and others may not have occurred due to luck, too. Safety in space is something that we will be exploring for a long time.

    Government is beginning to get out of the space utilization business and into buying observational data from commercial companies, right down to weather data. The military has begun purchasing telephone and data transmission services from commercial companies. These changes encourage new companies to produce and provide a number of other services and data. Planetary Resources, Inc. wants to build and operate space telescopes as a revenue generator to pay for developing asteroid mining, as well as to find suitable asteroids to mine.

    Development of the Commercial Resupply and Commercial Crew services programs has also encouraged independent investment in space hardware and fueled ideas that would have seemed to be mere dreams, twenty years ago. Some of these ideas are becoming reality, especially with Bigelow’s developing space habitats — Bigleow even tried to independently encourage commercial manned space by offering his own X-Prize, called America’s Space Prize.

    Other realities are being seen with the reduction in size and weight of many satellites, made possible by miniaturization of many satellite components, and these are creating a revolution in the way we use space to gather and transmit information.

    The reduced weight of spacecraft has also encouraged the small satellite launcher industry. There are undoubtedly more companies founded for the purpose of launching small satellites than can be supported in the next few years, but if there is enough business for a few of them to survive, then the commercialization of space will be well under way.

    NASA may be much better off leaving the Earth orbits for commercial exploration and moving on to deeper explorations, such as the Moon or Mars. Commercial companies may even beat NASA to the landing on and exploration of asteroid surfaces.

    The Moon and Mars may or may not be needed to assure the survival of humanity, but we are going to both places anyway.

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