January 24, 2017 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast


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Embedded below the fold. A look at what I see are the first real hints at Trump’s NASA policy, both in terms of space exploration and climate.

One comment

  • LocalFluff

    I agree that the SLS will most likely fly because so much costs have been sunk into it and it makes little political sense for Trump to pick a fight against its GOP proponents in Congress. It can bring the Europa mission to Jupiter in only 2 years fly time! So that is set to happen during a second term. It could land astronauts on the Moon within 8 years too, in order to prove a point against the Chinese. But the Lunar lander then would be a one off development with no second use, since the Dragon wouldn’t need a landing stage, just extra fuel tanks and a return vehicle. Or the Orion could be replaced by a Lunar Dragon plus a return vehicle. A few tons would be saved just by getting rid of the launch abort tower.

    December 2022, 50 years after Cernan left the Moon, would be a deadline to consider for a Lunar landing. SLS+Orion is a historical reenactment project anyway :-) Then the tens of billions the project has cost can be divided by the Europa mission, one crewed Lunar flyby and one Lunar landing. Especially the Orion is wasteful and useless.

    A persistent Lunar exploration program starting soon could possibly be done by the Falcon Heavy upgraded with a Raptor upper stage engine, either with two of them docking in LEO, or by landing cargo including the return vehicles separately from the crews. But neither SLS, Orion, Falcon Heavy or Dragon are suitable for Lunar missions. It’s such a mess of equipment mismatch.

    Good news is that Elon Musk was among the 12 industry tycoons that met with Trump on day 1 Monday. His track record and big thinking could very well get this president’s attention. Elon Musk twitter-praised Rex Tillerson for being conscious about the climate! This proofs that Elon Musk knows how to play politics, that he adapts to the changing rules of the game (claiming that a life long oil man is against CO2 emissions is like claiming that wolves are vegetarians, i.e. pure politics).

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