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The NRC Pathways HSF Study Panel Discussion, Sunday, 10-12-14 October 13, 2014

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The NRC Pathways HSF Study Panel Discussion, Sunday, 10-12-14

Featuring Dr. Jim Logan, Dan Adamo, Dr. John Jurist


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Welcome to this 2.5 hour Space Show Classroom discussion with Dan Adamo, Dr. John Jurist, & Dr. Jim Logan regarding the recently released NRC “Pathways To Exploration: Rationales And Approaches For A U.S. Program Of Human Space Exploration.” You can download the report for free at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18801. In addition, the project referred to in the last part of this discussion by Dan and Jim, the “Aquarius interplanetary HSF transport” paper can be freely downloaded at http://www.spaceenterpriseinstitute.org/2014/07/aquarius-a-reusable-water-based-interplanetary-human-spaceflight-transport. Please note that our panel members used cell phones which caused audio issues which you may hear during the discussion. Finally, as this program will also be archived on both The Space Show and The Space Show Classroom blogs, there will be two papers uploaded to each blog, one by Dan Adamo & the other by caller Dr. James Dewar. I will mention both in the summary below. In the first segment, our panel members opened with their perspective on the NRC Pathways HSF study. While there were similarities in their perspectives, there were also noteworthy differences. After this comprehensive introduction, I asked our panel members about the study and space settlement or pioneering. Each panel member had much to say on the settlement issue, including the need to solve the gravity prescription for long duration HSF or settlement. Our panel members said that for the most part, space settlement was out of scope for this report. In this part of the discussion much was said about microgravity issues & the need to do on orbit experiments to determine the HSF gravity prescription. Deimos was discussed as an initial better choice that the surface of Mars re microgravity issues. Our guests spoke to the need of a short arm centrifuge on the ISS. Jim spoke to the specifics of such an experiment such as 1 G at the head., 2.5 g’s at the feet for two hours a day to see how it serves as a microgravity countermeasure. Our panel members mentioned that there already was such a short arm centrifuge built years ago by NASA and Wiley, http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/slsd/about/divisions/hacd/laboratories/short-arm_centrifuge_laboratory.html. The guests talked about unknown human factor challenges for going to Mars and long duration spaceflight. Jim provided us with interesting statistics on human spaceflight totals since the beginning in 1961. The panel members had much to say about the budget issues discussed in the NRC study. Another point brought up was the study’s assumption that if we are not going to the surface of Mars, why even do HSF? Near the end of the first segment, listener Carl brought up the well known plans for Mars settlement with Elon Musk & SpaceX. This sparked quite the discussion so don’t miss it.

In the second segment, our panel talked about the value of the Pathways study, international partnerships and what they saw as contradictory statements, especially regarding the mission cost impact of such partnerships. John mentioned the study’s reference to NASA education & public outreach which he thought was more focused on STEM & the development of more engineers rather than on educating the general public to be more knowledgeable about science. The panel members noted that there was little attention paid to the societal impact of not even having a human spaceflight program. Dan & Jim agreed on the importance of educational outreach and shared their experiences with us from the employment with NASA. Adrian in San Diego sent in an email suggesting the panel was being pessimistic and that China would not overthink issues and just do missions without full disclosure. All three panel members had much to say in response to Adrian’s charge of being pessimistic. They talked about being reality based, not pessimistic & why it was so important to be reality based. The panel hit back hard on the charge of being pessimistic. Dan & Jim said to be other than realistic was reckless and irresponsible. Jim also said that being called pessimistic suggested to him that reality had violated the person’s ideology. Jim would be happy to debate the issues with anyone in open forum. This discussion brought Jim and Dan to talking about their Aquarius project which you can download at the above URL. They spent some time discussing the benefits of their approach, noting how it addresses & mitigates many of the problems associated with a HSF mission to Mars. They also spoke to the need for nuclear propulsion and talked about using water as fuel and very high ISP ratings with high temperatures. During this discussion, Dr. Jim Dewar called in to suggest their ISP ratings were low, he explained why, and he talked about starting small to start flying and then improving as you go. We did not know it but we lost John from the connection but Jim, Dan, and Dr. Dewar spoke to the NERVA project, and specifics about nuclear propulsion. This advanced nuclear propulsion discussion was close to a half an hour near the end of the program. Dr. Dewar was a guest on the program in 2008 & 2009 regarding nuclear propulsion & its history. He also authored two books on the subject. Use the GuestSearch tool on our website to find his interviews which I suggest you listen to if you have not already done so. I will also upload to both blogs the paper Dr. Dewar referenced in his discussion. After the nuclear discussion, Adrian sent in another email titled “rebuttal.” He challenged the panel members to do the experiments, not just to talk about them. Jim, Dan & I challenged Adrian for his solutions to doing many of the needed & essential experiments. All of the panel members supported doing the needed experiments & have said so for decades. Getting funding for the experiments, NASA approval, etc. is a challenge. I then challenged Adrian to come to The Space Show as a guest with his solutions for doing the essential work & experiments rather than his just talking about how badly they are needed per his second email. I hope Adrian does have answers and will contact me about coming on the show to discuss them with us. Jim & Dan each provided closing comments focusing back on the study report. They thought the report was worth it from the taxpayer perspective and that it would be used for references. Jim did think the report was not as good as other government studies he had seen because it was so speculative, something all three guests addressed in their opening remarks. An 11th hour call came from SLS John to talk about the ISP formula & temperatures Dan and Jim used in their paper Aquarius paper. Dan authorized me to upload to the blog his written comments on the NRC Pathways study so you will find that document on both blogs as well.

Please post comments/questions on The Space Show blog. You can reach the panel members through me.

A Technical Note on Nuclear Rockets-1