Midday; Dr. Robert Pepin
Mostly sunny and 58 in international falls mostly sunny and 58 as well. Rochester partly sunny and 64. Duluth mostly sunny 58 St. Cloud partly sunny and 56 in the Twin Cities it's cloudy right now and 60 degrees. Time is just about ten minutes past eleven now. Potter one of the biggest stars in the MPR universe. Oh no. Ready to blast off with another out of this world guest in the studio down the hall. So is that what you spent the hour between the out of the sun money are doing figuring that line out. Bob I spent all last night figuring that line out. I had to get the news together in the last hour right. Mike thank you very much. Well with the successful launch on Thursday of the Space Shuttle Discovery the first shuttle launch in more than two and a half years. We thought it might be interesting today to spend some time talking about the American space program both manned and unmanned and giving you an opportunity to ask some questions of a man who has some intimate and firsthand experience with the space program. Dr. Robert Pepin is with us a physicist at the University
of Minnesota Dr. Pepin welcome it's nice to have you back on Minnesota Public nice to be here. Dr. Pepin is chairman of the National Academy of Sciences advisory committee to Nassa which helps the space agency planet scientific work and specifically Dr. Pepper has been active in analyzing some of the samples that have come back from the various missions lunar samples and so on and so forth. But to begin with let's talk about the shuttle mission the Challenger mission specifically. How important is the success of this mission to the U.S. space program. Well in the short run it's tremendously important it gives us access to space again after something like 30 months. It's a first step. As I look at it on what will be a very long road back to leadership in the space program if that's what this nation wishes to have. There is no question that we no longer occupy in our ability to access and explore space. The position of leadership that we had 10 to 20 years
ago. I'm not myself convinced that it is possible any longer for one nation to be the preeminent explore space in all of the many aspects of that exploration. So I don't think it is necessary that we seek first order leadership and everything but as long as we are sitting on the ground before this mission we couldn't lead in anything so in the short run it's an extremely important first step back on what will be a long road. From a scientific point of view of course is enormously important because waiting in the lunch queue for a shuttle within the next year or two planetary missions one to Venus and one to Jupiter which have been which were grounded by the Challenger catastrophe and have been waiting lines for periods ranging up to four or five years. The We've essentially been hamstrung totally.
You know our ability to launch scientific missions. For the last thirty two months of course and very severely compromised before that because the decision that was made by the agency and by the Congress in the 1970s to rely totally on the shuttle for launching all of our packets to the space whether or not they needed a manned interface in orbit has very much slowed down our ability to access space in a rapid and efficient manner. So while the the successful launch of Discovery is an enormously important simply for our ability to once again get things into lower Earth orbit it's not a long range solution to the problem until we have what we call a mixed fleet of vehicles vehicles that are unmanned for launches that do not need the enter the entering action of man in orbit in order to successfully launch them and for activities that do require the human presence of the shuttle.
Well speaking of the shuttle again just briefly do you think that the engineers have rung just about as much risk out of the shuttle process as is reasonable. Yes it will be some risk in anything but. Your answer is yes yes my answer is yes it's an experimental vehicle and I think it always will be. The complexity of the engineering in that device is absolutely enormous. It is more complicated than the old Saturn rocket that lifted us to the moon and it was complicated enough once. Once described by one of the astronauts who flew it as a device and painting five hundred thousand moving parts each of which was built by the lowest bidder. And that is so it was enough to make you somewhat nervous when you were sitting on the launch pad. But the vehicles are extremely complex. It was in my opinion a relatively safe vehicle as safe as it was probably going to get. By the time Discovery launched. I don't I don't believe that it would be
reasonable to carry the safety factor very much further. Because in so doing you hamstring the program you trade access to space for safety. And while you might fly with almost total confidence once every five years with the expenditure of a great deal of money that's not the name of this game. The name of the game is to get into space and to do things there. Dr. Robert Pepin is with us as we talk about the U.S. space program today and if you have a question for him the phone number in the Twin Cities is 6:58 six thousand two to seven 6000 in the twin cities elsewhere within the state of Minnesota toll free 1 800 6 5 2 9 7 0 0 and if you're listening outside the state of Minnesota called us directly at area code 6 12 and 2 2 7 6000. Has the U.S. lost major ground to Sylvia since Challenger you say that the United States has fallen behind in the past 10 or 20 years but specifically since the Challenger disaster we have lost even more ground. I think so it it. The the catastrophe occurred. Interestingly enough I'm
quite independently at a time when the long term efforts of the Soviet Union of Japan and of the European community were beginning to pay. Rapid dividends in terms of their ability to access space now the Soviets are very good example. Back in the Apollo days it was fashionable to if not sneer at least politely curl a lip at the Soviet program because it seemed so plodding and so on imaginative and so restricted in scope. The philosophy that guided their program then and still does is that they would not enter into a highly competitive stature with respect to the United States or any other program but they would develop their program into her mentally. They would they would develop a certain capacity explore it for what it was worth. When they discovered what it could do they would then build on that with another small advance such program start in very small ways. Ours started with a tremendous
buying with the Apollo missions. In fact we almost had more capability to access space than in the late 60s than we do now. The Soviets have been just the opposite they started off with a very very limited capability and they have slowly unreliably make it with a long term commitment to space exploration built out over the years and at the time of the Challenger accident. This was just beginning to paid dividends. They had developed new booster they since have developed yet another one which was almost as powerful now as our old Saturn rocket called the energy. And they they stopped their very comprehensive exploration of Venus at about that time and decided to turn outward in the solar system and begin to explore Mars they seized on Mars as a target. They had had something like 15 missions to Venus largely unnoticed in the American press a very thorough scientific exploration. Then they decided that they would break out of the inner solar system and turn their eyes outward to Mars
so that the things that they've been planning for a long time in an incremental fashion began to happen at just about the time of the Challenger disaster. But it was not connected with the Challenger disaster. It just happened to occupy a position of very high visibility then because we were grounded and they were making what looked to us like great leaps forward though in fact it was just. Sort of a final payoff of their rather slow but very comprehensive approach to space exploration. All right let's turn to some folks with questions for Dr. Pepper as we talk about the U.S. space program today where we stand where we're going. Your first go ahead please with your question. Thank you for taking my call. First I would wonder if Dr. Pepper could enumerate some of the advantages to the lay person as a sort of a participant to try to encourage additional support for the program. Secondly I wonder if you had a plausible time possible time for a subsequent shot a lot going up in this thing. OK. As I understand your first question
to you would you would like me to give my opinion of why the program deserves additional support beyond what it already has. That's a very interesting question. I speak as a scientist. And I speak as a scientist who recognizes that the next scientific front here in scientific pursuits at least in my field is definitely in space there's a great deal that we do not know about the origin and the evolution of not only the other planets but our own. And we intend to learn and we'll learn a great deal about how planets formed and what their future is. By setting examples other than the single example we happen to be living on in the longer term there is no doubt in my mind that space offers access to a tremendous resource economic resource mineral resource materials
resource. There is more iron for example in a relatively small iron asteroid that we know exists than has ever been mined from the surface of the earth. There are supplies of isotopes such as helium 3 on the moon and farther out in the atmosphere of Jupiter which could supply by nuclear fusion all of the power that we would ever want. Now it's not quite as simple as mining iron ore out of the rain and certainly for the helium 3 it is not very simple and conceptually to mine the atmosphere of Jupiter. But on a time scale of two or three hundred years we will need these resources and they are there and I have almost infinite faith in our own technological expertise and our ability to develop that expertise so that we can access these very difficult environments. The next shuttle launch I believe is scheduled for November and I think that it is carrying a classified military payload
the launch after that I've forgotten. I think it's another TV RF satellite. Then comes our first planetary mission the Magellan probe to Venus. Then a couple of other security launches and then the Galileo probe to Jupiter. All right tell me a little bit about what those two cent experiments will do what will you learn from these probes to Venus in Jupiter that we haven't already learned from the old Voyager of you know 10 15 years ago. Well Venus of course is very interesting problem because you can't see it surface directly. It has to be probed by radar because it's swaddled and very thick. Optically opaque clouds. Now we have actually done some work from the ground in looking at the surface of Venus through the air a CBer radar in Puerto Rico. The Soviets as I mentioned before have had a very comprehensive exploration program on Venus and they have partially mapped the planet in radars so that we understand a little bit
about what the topography looks like. We can see what may have been but probably weren't old ocean basins an enormous mountain ranges very interesting planet drive very hot the surface temperature there would melt lid. It is an advance case of a phenomenon that is suddenly very popular and much discussed here on Earth called the greenhouse effect. Really the Martian atmosphere is about 100 times as dense as ours and it's almost all carbon dioxide. Now carbon dioxide is a big bugaboo now in the Earth's atmosphere and we have of course much less of it. But when you do when you have even a little bit more carbon dioxide than we have and certainly when one reaches the level of carbon dioxide in the Venus atmosphere the incident radiation the sunlight is trapped on the surface of the planet heats up and it is an extreme case on Venus one of the variance in reasons why we wish to study the planet. It is that it is an advanced case of a phenomenon that we are ourselves beginning to suffer from. So the Magellan mission has an extremely sophisticated advantage radar which
will map the surface of the planet with a resolution of perhaps 100 yards or so so we'd be able to see individual football fields on the planet which doesn't sound terribly exciting but it certainly is to a geologist. The Galileo mission to Jupiter is a fascinating mission. It is now Jupiter remembers the planet with all this interesting helium 3 in the atmosphere but we have only a rather crude idea of what is actually in the atmosphere of that planet and one of the devices on the Galileo probe is a small exit which will dive into the atmosphere of Jupiter B braked by a parachute and gently settle down measuring composition and cloud structure and wind velocities and temperatures and whatever else you can think of on the way. Until it sinks. Hold to a level of perhaps 10 or 20 miles into that atmosphere which is very deep. Whereupon it is crushed by the external pressure. We've been able to design the probes so that we think it will take a pressure about 20 times the atmospheric
pressure we have here on the surface of the earth. But it was not possible to design it to go to the surface of Jupiter where the pressure is almost a million times what it is here on the surface of Earth. So we will get partway into the atmosphere and then it will destruct but not before it's given us a great deal of data on the composition of that planet which we do not know very well at the moment. Best news. Twenty five minutes past the hour Dr. Robert Pepin is here physicist at the University of Minnesota adviser now so we're talking about the U.S. space program both with the current shuttle mission and some of the things yet to come in space. Thank you for waiting around there now go ahead please. Well Dr. Crippen Yes I'm curious to know Are there any more space shuttles being constructed at present. Being redesigned right now when I discover it is up in space. Oh hang out in the sun. OK I know there's a brand new one on the way as yet unnamed. It's being built I think. I can't remember where. No matter it's two and a half billion dollar device. Those titles are expense of Interestingly
enough though each launch of the Shuttle cost two hundred fifty million dollars and so over 10 launches of the shuttle is about equal to its original purchase price. It will be ready in the early 1990s and we will then again have a short for shuttle fleet. The difficulty is that shuttles wear out. The challenger catastrophe was not an example of the normal wear and tear that occurs on a shuttle but now that we've had several flights from each of the present shuttles we know that the things simply began to wear and eventually after the process of cannibalizing one part from one to replace a worn part on the other exciter is over we'll have to retire shuttles. And it's probably the case that if we want to maintain a four shuttle fleet we should always have one in the process of construction. Because they probably have lifetimes of only five or six years or at the most a decade. But in the early 90s we're scheduled to have a four shuttle fleet once again. Is there any vehicle being planned beyond the shuttle in the manned vehicle that would
supersede that it's very you command vehicle. Yeah I know there is a shuttle is it for the United States idle is it until the 21st century actually. I should probably say until the new millennium which has a nice ring to it. Yes I mean you know there are as you probably know the Soviets are about ready to fly their shuttle it looks very very much like ours. The Europeans also have a shuttle on the drawing board which looks much more elegant than ours because the crew compartment sits on top of the rocket the way our old Saturn capsules did. But none of these nations and specifically the United States has on the drawing boards unless it is buried somewhere in the recesses of the most advanced planning office and a design for the next generation of manned vehicle. There are many designs for the next generation of unmanned vehicles big dumb boosters and smaller rockets capable of putting various sized payloads and orbit but nothing that I know of the next generation of manned vehicle. All right we have a couple of phone lines open again in the Twin Cities if you have a question about the U.S. space program
6:58 6000 in the Twin Cities area 2 2 7 6000 for Twin Cities callers 1 800 6 5 2 9 7 0 0 0 the number outside the metropolitan area. And of course if you're listening in on the surrounding states or in Ontario you can call us directly at 6 12 2 2 7 6 thousand. All right your turn now thanks go ahead you're on the air. I had a question on this business of manned exploration of space. It seems that in the old days if they want to launch a satellite they stick it on an automatic rocket and the satellite goes into space. Now you've got to have hot and cold running water in laboratories and kitchen several hundred pounds of life meet in orbit and then it pushes the button which launches the satellite. All you've done is increase the cost. And then they suggest that there's something to explore and all they do is go around. Round and round circles you know what spy satellites have done for years. They can even get to the moon. And I'm kind of curious. Then in a matter of this manned exploration you know even if it's to do material science experiments My understanding is those are very carefully sealed from the
environment and then the operator interacts with the panel which could just as well be remote it. So when you talk about manned quote exploration unquote If you're not doing it for years to watch your bones be calcifying like the Russians do. What is the game plan what is the purpose of this. How much of it is really technical and how much of it is political just to keep shoveling money into them on this shuttle. You sound exactly like me and one of my more eloquent moments that was marvelously put and absolutely correct. The difficulty with the way the program has gone since we put all our chips into the into the shuttle is our only means of access to the space is that scientific missions that do not need the intercession of men in orbit or to get off the ground have become enormously expensive and very very widely spaced. So that decision which was made back in the 1970s has cost the scientific part of NASA's program a normal sleep. The only
rational long range plan that the nation that the agency and the country can afford to take is that is that experiments that do not require men should not be forced to have them because as you point out it increases the costs enormously and it decreases the frequency of our accessed space. There are however certain kinds of experiments some of the material processing experiments that you mention certainly are sealed container some. Some of them are not. There are also on the drawing boards experiments having to do with with chemical engine engineering applications of zero or microgravity that really can interact in real time with human presence. But the vast majority of scientific experiments do not and need not and should not and those should not be forced to live cheek by jowl with man from the ground into orbit. Because as you point out very eloquently. It throttles what the agency and what scientists are really
supposed to be doing and one of NASA's prime objectives that is to explore the solar system and many of those exploration initiatives do not require a man and can be done with robotic vehicles equally well or better and at much less cost. Well after in the wake of the Challenger accident is any of this being rethought is there a possibility that NASA's and the Congress will decide that yes there is a bigger role for unmanned missions. Yes yes this is being rethought in fact the committee to which I belong or the Space Science Board which my committee is a member realized not only before after the Challenger accident but well before that the reliance on the shuttle as our sole means of access to space was most unwise particularly for space science and had started a campaign to persuade the and the Congress that we really did have to reinvest in the vehicles of all classes and sizes from little tiny Scouts to up to the great big Titan 4s that can launch anything we currently
want to put into space. The challenge is your catastrophe sharpened the focus on this is a city of doing this as you might imagine because everything was grounded then we had no expendable rockets that we could turn to to launch the scientific missions that were waiting and cute. So the the debate went back and forth in the aftermath of Challenger and the net result of that is that everybody agrees there should be a supply of expendable rockets and we now have or the agency now has permission I believe to buy one. We had a whole bunch of them and we they're all gone they're all girl gone. Why don't you just redesign and rebuild them don't they have the design well somewhere locked up and so they do though it is probably true that the latest derivative of the military rocket the old Titan 3 turning into the Titan 34 D and now into what's called the Titan 4 is actually a better rocket. It's probably a better rocket and less complex
complex and hazardous rocket than the old Saturn. It's not as powerful but many of the payloads that we have now don't need quite as much power as the Saturn head. They're quite expensive. Now the military has realized much faster than Congress has permitted the scientific community to realize that they cannot rely on the shuttle for national security reasons they currently have on order. Twenty three Titan four rockets to launch their payloads they still have a few shuttle launches but they would prefer to avoid relying on the shuttle and they are in the process of placing order asking for permission to buy 50 more. Now that's the airforce Nassa has received permission to eventually buy one rocket. So it's a matter of priority. You know they are expensive they cost one hundred seventy five million dollars apiece. Now to put that in perspective the shuttle launch cost two hundred fifty million dollars so. So so they are actually cheaper than a shuttle launch which is that which the military has realized is one of the reasons that they want to rely on.
But we desperately need them. We don't need one we need we need 10 we need backups we don't have anything like the military need. But in order to implement a reasonable program with access to space we have to have these vehicles. Let's move on to our next listener who's been waiting for ask a question go ahead please you're on your No. Oh yeah I've been right so I'm sorry if I'm being redundant but my question is about the Hubble telescope. Do you attribute just a small piece yesterday showing sketching out the next to a payload of the shuttle going to right next six or seven and I will didn't show up there. And I've been sitting. Just waiting for you to get up so we can get some results from a good. Don't be ready. Yeah the poor Hubble Space Telescope What is that first of all. Oh yeah it's a marvel it leaves a one meter telescope very sophisticated instrument with all sorts of marvelous devices in its focal plane the largest telescope by far that we've ever put into orbit. It will be able to see free of obscuration by the Earth's
atmosphere radiation from stellar systems that we have never observed before or probe more deeply and into the universe and further with greater clarity than anything on the ground in anything we've ever put into space on a normally exciting instrument. But it is it has had an interesting saga of misfortunes since since it was since it was developed. It was scheduled to be launched three or four months after the Challenger catastrophe. It is clear that the ground does it as a ground of the Galileo space probe. During the time it was on the ground there were rather ad advanced programming of software that was originally intended to have been done after that was launched that were done so the time wasn't entirely wasted They also discovered a couple of problems with it specifically a problem with its power system and so it has been said that possibly it was a good thing it didn't get off on time because there would have been problems not enough to incapacitate but problems in its normal operation. Then when the post
Challenger manifests began to be published of which the discovery flight is the first it was realized that there was an enormous crowding of that manifest and for the following reasons. There are two planetary missions the Magellan and the and the Minas and the Jupiter missions which have to be launched within very narrow launch windows because their launch periods are determined by the relative positions of the planets and for both of those missions those those positions reoccur only every two years. So those two flights took priority because the Hubble space telescope does not have to be there at a certain time it can go up any time. That takes two of the lodges. The data communications and data tracking relays satellites that one of which discovery carried. We need two of those in order to be able to implement these missions including the Hubble space telescope because they use the satellites to relay their data back to Earth. That takes two more of the shuttle flights. Military high security flights have preempted for the next eight. If you start counting you realize that there's
nothing left for the Hubble space telescope even though it was scheduled to go in one of the early flights but delays in getting Discovery off and the prerogatives of national security flight flights as exercised by the Department of Defense have left no room for the whole space telescope. It is now off into 19 I believe it is either late 1989 but I think it's 1990 will they be putting any more communications satellites in orbit along with some of these other things that you mentioned for the shuttle missions. Yes there is one more. The teacher satellites one of which discovery was carrying very sophisticated two and a half tons. Communication and data relay satellites tracking and data relay satellites. One more of those goes up in order to fill in the complete network. There are a couple of communication satellites that are scheduled on the manifest though I don't know what they're for. They're going to bring back finally the bust size long duration exposure facility that's been sitting out there for many years and carries experiments that were designed to be in orbit for a year and then be brought back
by the shuttle they've actually been there for four years. Then the national security flights of which we know nothing and the two planetary flights and that's it. Yeah. All right let's move on to your question for Dr. Robert happen. Go ahead please you're on the air. Thank you. There was a question about our next craft. We do have the National Aerospace plane project which is an Air Force project but now it does participate. And that will be a single stage to low Earth orbit manned craft. I want to ask you. Why do you believe that that is a valuable program and deserves the high priority I think it's getting and how you see it fitting into the overall scheme of things regarding exploration of space and so on. Thank you. I don't really know enough about the aerospace plane to be able to comment knowledgeably about it was my understanding that Congress had cut out all funding for this year but that may be incorrect that sort of works at the back of my mind. I'm I'm
a bit skeptical because it is a very high technology development rather costly development and I am not convinced that it will be any cheaper to fly or reduce the per pound cost of our access to space to levels much below that of the shuttle. What is needed here is a cheap little taxi cab which is reasonably reliable which is intended to spend two or three days in orbit which does not have hot and cold running water as a previous listener pointed out we've seen it seems to be our philosophy. In fact we need a craft very much like the Apollo Soyuz craft which is exactly the sort of little low cost shuttle which goes back and forth between the ground and their Mir space station and allows you to put a couple of people and a little bit of equipment. In orbit and to bring them back from orbit rather cheaply and rather efficiently as as we know from an almost disaster a couple of weeks ago. It is not the safest vehicle but there is no
such thing as a safe vehicle for for travel. Translation from Earth's surface to lower earth orbit it's a dangerous game because you're sitting on so much energy the energy that's required to break that gravitational bond and I'm afraid it will never be very safe. Twenty minutes before twelve o'clock Dr. Robert Pepin a physicist from the University of Minnesota is with us today as we talk about the U.S. space program with the space shuttle Discovery up in orbit and doing its work pretty well from what we hear. 6:58 6000 is the phone number in the Twin Cities 1 800 6 5 2 9 7 0 0 in other parts of Minnesota and we have some lines open again at the moment. Thank you for waiting here on the air now go ahead please. Thank you. My question is more oriented to the younger people in the audience. Would it be possible to spot the Soviet space station from the growing use in your standard home refracting telescope. And if so. Could you provide information on how to track it.
Do we know what they're doing as far as experiments up there. And finally is there a place to write to to get information about high school college and military training for the space program. Thank you want to turn up my radio and write this down. I can remember the various parts of your question. The first part yes it is possible to see to see Mir even with the naked eye and in fact I believe it was visible over Minnesota a few weeks ago I remember seeing something in the newspaper that said you go outside and crane your neck in a certain direction a certain time of the day and you would see it. It should be easily seen with a standard home reflector refracting telescope. The second question is what is its orbit and when would you do this. I haven't the faintest idea. But the Soviets are. I mean we know the orbit and I suspect that any time it's visible in Minnesota skies you will find out from simply the radio or the newspapers because they generally point such things out when it went when when it can be seen from the ground in this area. The question of what we whether we know what the Soviets are doing on the Mir spacecraft we know
practically everything about what they're doing on Mir and they've been extraordinarily open with information of course we must be admitted that we don't know what they're not telling us. But what they are telling us is is comprehensive voluminous and gives us a very good perception of at least the scientific and the medical and biological kinds of experiments that they're carrying out on that station. They have invited us repeatedly to send our own personnel to participate with them on the activities in the mirror and the Mir space station and offer which we may someday accept. There is no question that they are in their activities on Mir laying the foundation for a long term study of the physiological effects of zero gravity on human beings. And from that to derive the parameters that they will have to address for a manned trip to Mars and it is very clear and they have said this that their long term objective and they unlike unlike the United States has a published plan and long term objectives or series of them for their space program. Is the send men to
Mars and they would very very much like to do that in association with us. And one of the areas of association cooperation that they see as being very very important and one in which they would be very anxious to involve our profound medical expertise which is which is really very excellent is to participate with them in the experiments on the effects of weightlessness on human beings on the Mir spacecraft so we know a great deal of what they're doing and we have no reason to believe that they're not telling us about practically the whole scope of their activities on this but why have we declined their invitation. Oh it's a political matter. The country has been extraordinarily worried over the last few years about items such as technology transfer that we will have developed technological advances which would be of military use to the Soviets and therefore any transfer of that technology through a scientific interface or a commercial interface is to be very very carefully guarded
against. It has it's a philosophy has been carried to crippling extremes in a situation like this. The very articulate head of the Soviet space program rolls day off in noting the difficulties that we were having in accepting his invitation. I think he put it he says United States seems to be unable to take yes for an answer was that. Possibly. We were alarmed that any of our personnel who went on board the Mir spacecraft would want to take our pocket calculators with us and that might be regarded as technology transfer and he understood thoroughly why we were being permitted to accept his invitation. Bit of sarcasm there but it is being carried to lengths that probably deserves orgasm. The last part of the caller's question will and a couple others is how to get some training for space programs in all the writing for editor right to yes I would say that a very good place to start would be the the
public affairs officer at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. They say they are well equipped to respond to a query about how one prepares oneself for a career in the space sciences and also have access to an enormous amount of educational material which I personally think would be fascinating for four schoolchildren right. It's 15 minutes before twelve o'clock as we continue with Dr. Robert Pepin and you're on the air with him now go ahead. Thank you this sounds like it might be you know even to know that it isn't a friend to him. What I was programmed to go both have nuclear rights being a high capacity one way what in effect would be a bargain. And I was wondering if you could ever ask for. You know it's one that's often crossed my mind too because it was a such a clean way to get rid of nuclear waste you fire it into the sun and it vaporizes and there are much worse things than that on the surface of the sun including a temperature 6000 degrees. If you look at it in detail though you
find there are all sorts of problems. Perhaps the worst of the problems is the unreliability of the unreliability that is the non 100 percent safety criterion in getting the stuff off the surface of the earth. And what Hans everyone in something like this is the idea of a large booster rocket loaded with spent nuclear arrays that explodes in the atmosphere and distributes this stuff over hundreds of thousands of square miles of surface from that point of view. Though I don't regard this as particularly an engineering hazard because one could quote a certain probability against this happening and suitably packaged the material from a political point of view. That's absolute death knell. The other difficulty is a more practical one. If you look at the rate at which we are producing nuclear waste and it may be that the greenhouse phenomenon and the concern about that will drive us more toward the nuclear end of power production in which case the waste production rate will get larger. And
translate that to a reasonable payload of a large rocket and calculate how often you would have to fire such rockets off the surface of the earth in order to remove the waste at the same rate it's being created. You discover that you would have to have an appallingly large number of such launches particularly if you secure this radioactive material in suitable impact or explosion resistant containers in case something does happen to the rocket on launch or in the atmosphere and it turns out that you would have to fire a want off every few minutes or every few hours or some incredible frequency in order to get read under suitable protective circumstances of the nuclear waste that we are or shortly will be generating at the same rate and that is being produced. So two reasons One political and one simply an engineering constraint that at the moment prevent that from being a realistic solution to a problem it is otherwise a beautiful solution because it's gone and it's gone in a very clean way. All right thank you for that question moving on do you know how low Robert Pepin is listening.
Hello. I'm not sure if I heard this read this or tramp. The question is did President Reagan recently commissioned the development of pointing that can transform itself into a space ship so that you could fly from Washington up into space and land in Tokyo. And if I didn't dream that it would just express baby boomers to experience when I was a time when you know I wonder if you could be talking about the aerospace plane. I'm not very knowledgeable in this area by the way from the point of view of the technology required and and your perception of how this would work of course it's possible. It's been a favorite theme of science fiction writers for many years. A a an Earth transport system which essentially bridges into space the the lower regions of space in order to attain very high velocities and then drops back down to
its destination where presumably you get there before you start the present expression of this idea as closely as I can imagine it is probably in the aerospace plane which is not intended to do that as a commercial transportation system but which is intended to provide sort of a hybrid atmospheric and space craft which can provide rather relatively efficient access to space though as I mentioned in response to an earlier question. It is technologically very sophisticated and I'm afraid very expensive nor am I sure that Congress is even supporting that initiative this year. OK let's move on to our next questioner thank you for when you're on the air now go ahead. I started looking at it. Scriptures that came back from the murder diets and they have one particular object on the surface of Mars that looks an awful lot like and that funny right. I was just wondering
why the government and turf ignored it for 10 years until the people started out. Oh I think that you know that was noticed in one of the very early examinations of Mariner and Viking photography. I don't think that from from a scientific point of view or even from a lay point of view it should cause very much concern. There are formations all over the place just like that on Earth. Things that assume when you look at them from various points of view all sorts of of marvelous expressions pleasant or otherwise. New Hampshire's old man of the moment is a very good example of this robot from it from a bigger vantage point some totally natural formation as far as I know no hammer or pick or a blasting cap is ever been laid on it and it looks exactly just exactly like an old crotchety face. I think that the so-called Face on Mars is exactly this it's a natural formation that happens to have been eroded in a way so that from a particular vantage point in this case happens to be directly overhead. It looks like as somebody pointed out and a Gyptian mascot's Or rather it's a rather
grim expression but I have no reason to think nor does anybody who's looked at the photograph have any reason to think that it's other than a peculiar natural formation which is kind of interesting to look at but carries no deeper significance. Right. We'll move on to your question no huddle there you're on the air. Thank you. I'd like your your comment on the idea that it it would probably be more efficient in building our Earth Earth orbit space stations and other large satellites to first go to the moon and use lunar materials rather than carrying them up to the big gravity well from our earth. Thank you I'm not sure that that's that's been debated on and off for a long time I think. We're certain what I regard is as rather optimistic assumptions about what it would cost to establish the base and what the transportation costs would be from the lunar gravity well to lower earth orbit. You can actually make a case that you could do things more economically than you could by lifting all your construction materials out of the very deep gravity well that is represented
by the earth. The difficulty is that I think the scenarios that have been developed to demonstrate this are overly optimistic and I very much don't. That the prime rationale for for colonizing and and setting up a manned permanently manned lunar base could be economic in that sense though I would be willing to bet you that given 100 years the techniques and technology will develop so that you could supply lunar material suitably refined and smelted on the moon and flown off the moon by some sort of a mass driver and recaptured in lower earth orbit. You could probably at that point when you've had a hundred years of experience do it more cheaply than you could by lifting the stuff up out of the earth is very very difficult. Gravity well but I don't think that will be the rationale for driving a man lunar base. There are other reasons for doing that and I think that the primary reason that one ought to focus on a lunar base is that it is a
relatively close space environment not of zero gravity but. Some relatively small fraction of our own gravity rather but not mine in the sense that it is close and that the temperature excursions on the surface are at least within the realm of a spacesuit can protect against a solid surface that you can practice running vehicles around. It is a laboratory or close an important laboratory for us to acquaint ourselves with the actual task and the techniques that we will need to explore space and for that reason I think that any talk of a manned Martian mission prior to gaining experience in that kind of environment on the moon is probably not the right way to go. We have about five minutes left with Dr. Robert pepper and we can take a couple more calls at 6:58 six thousand one hundred six 5 2 9 7 0 0. So you think it's likely that we will do a lot more work on the moon
before somebody goes to Mars even the Soviets. I think that's probably right. It's a little the Soviets have really pin markers down as a target that they very much want to access and one of the reasons as I pointed out before for all of their work now on the effects of zero gravity on the human body on the Mir space station is that they are trying to develop the technology that they will need to protect humans. Why do they want to go to Mars is it one of these like kind of earlier caller suggested just you know a kind of say we've done it. Or is there something that men really can find there that could not be done by you. Well the problem is I guess is that oh I see I didn't sense the intent of your question. The question I was going to answer is is there something man can find there that we don't suspect is there now which might have economic or philosophical ramifications and the answer that of course is that we don't know until we go there. There are scientific.
Explorations of a major planet like that that can be accomplished really only by men. We got our first order information on the planet from unmanned robotic probes and I would hope that that's the way we do it. But after we understand a little bit about the planet there's no substitute for sending them there. They are more sophisticated computers which are with a higher ability to analyze than anything we can build robotic Yeah. But you know if you look at I will take this next caller in a second but if you look at Supposing somebody were coming to explore the Earth in the sense that we are going to explore Mars so much would depend on where they came down to you know if they came down in North America they'd see one thing if it came at the equator something else in that the Antarctic a totally different thing. What kind of general conclusions then can you make from going to say you've explored Mars but you've only seen in all 10 square miles that's why we can't land just one site. Any reasonable I mentioned earlier before we went on the air that I was participating in the committee that is attempting to plan the first US. Exploration of Mars and it involves at least six landings. Now that's why we like to do
it in cooperation with the Soviets because three apiece sounds a lot cheaper than one nation doing all six. But in fact you're quite right Bob it's absolutely impossible you can imagine landing on the Sahara and I mean your points. Antarctica as a mother or the ocean or the ocean. And of course you have a three quarters chance of doing that but maybe their guidance system is better than that and then you might you know land in the middle of New York City which would certainly give you an entirely different perception of what the planet was of absolutely. Let's take one more question here quickly go ahead you're on with Dr. Pepper and thank you. I'm calling from Minneapolis stock. Yes an earlier caller mentioned difficulties. See how one cuts quote you just made a few comments. That American cooperation right can't the Soviets be approached about scheduling in the ranks of that particular peyote. Interesting I forgot to mention this before when I was talking about technology transfer the Soviets have repeatedly offered us access to their proton rocket. In fact in Aviation Week there are occasionally full page
advertisement which say essentially want to go to space. Here's a proton rocket. Contact our sole U.S. distributors in New York City for more information. They they have offered and I think not facetiously. There there are proton for American satellites of any size and nature that are within the payload capability of proton I'm afraid the Hubble Space Telescope is not within its capability. It's too big. But the difficulty is the politics get in the way again and it is a matter as a matter of fact of statute in this country that U.S. satellites are not to be to be launched on Soviet rockets. And again what's driving that is the difficulties inherent in technology transfer fears even though the Soviets have offered to allow or offered to allow us to package our satellites in big welded black box boxes and they promise never to peek inside they just put them on the rocket and shoo them off. But that hasn't done the trick either. Unfortunately nothing they have I think except possibly
enter gear which is not fully tested is big enough to launch the Hubble Space Telescope. Well sir at that point I'm afraid we must end the clock as Ron is thank you so much for coming in visiting with us today on pleasure. Dr. Robert Peppe an physicist at the University of Minnesota who chairs the National Academy of Sciences advisory committee to NASA's helping it plan its scientific work. Midday is made possible by Ecolab incorporated and its chemical and subsidiary Do stay with us we have a lot of interesting things to come here on Minnesota Public Radio. So stay right to the station this is Bob Potter speaking. You're tuned to chaos Jan. 13 30 Minneapolis St. Paul and KNX are eighty eight point nine FM in Collegeville St. Cloud. Well Michael what's with the sun. What's with the sun yeah it's all it's behind a cloud. Indeed it is. The forecast though says it should become partly cloudy throughout the afternoon so we can at least look for it. All right well I'll be looking for an oil well I hope saw you have it you know you have the rest of the afternoon off right. Well
I may I may I've got a couple of projects to do with and I'm going to head out to some else like the golf courses that you know I think I might actually be closer to the boat this weekend. All right. Well look for you out there then. OK Bob looking at the weather as long as Bob brought it up for the state of Minnesota this afternoon it'll be partly cloudy or becoming partly cloudy as Bob mentioned during the early afternoon highs should range from the 70s in the northwest to the lower 70s in the Southwest tonight and Sunday cold under partly cloudy skies lows tonight should be around 40 in the Twin Cities in the St. Cloud area. Highs tomorrow mostly in the 50s. So it hasn't gotten quite as warm as they say it will get today. Right now in the Twin Cities it's cloudy and 60 degrees. And tomorrow it's going to be even cooler in St. Cloud right now. If I can find it on my sheet and apparently it was left off so I don't know the temperature in St. Cloud right now but I'll get that in just a few minutes. We are going to begin the new expanded version of the week in review right now and we'll start that with an update from the BBC and the
24 Hours program then I'll be back in about 20 minutes to look at some stories from the Olympics in Seoul South Korea and some local matters as well. So now off we go to the BBC. And welcome to 24 hours with analysis and comment. I'm all of a scart and later in the program. What's behind the rioting and killing in Pakistan. The SARS killed lawfully in Gibraltar but what's the reaction. A vision for halting the flooding of Bangladesh. And oil prices plummet as members fall out. First the election of Mikhail Gorbachev for state president is perhaps more than anything else a tribute to his impatience. Today the country's parliament of the Supremes Soviet unanimously elected him to the post vacated gracefully if unwilling by the 79 year old Andrei Gromyko. The move if not unexpected is widely seen as strengthening Mr. Gorbachev hand. I've been talking to the BBC is Malcolm Hays That is Mr. Gorbachev selection as
president. A political triumph for him. Certainly I think it's a triumph in the sense that he has now consolidated his power. He has weakened his main rivals and there he is president and party chief as well. But I think that he would have preferred actually not to take this post so quickly. It would have looked better for him I think if he had emerged as president from some sort of democratic process in the spring and I think that was his original intention. I think he's been forced into grabbing the presidency so to speak by the amount of political opposition and by his own impatience Perhaps now. Can I pick up a point you just made you said he weakened his political opposition. Does that nonetheless imply that they would still and perhaps in particular Mr. Lugar be able and willing to mount a counterattack against Mr. Gorbachev. Yes but they will be less good a position to do that so we say. The most visible rivals for Mr Gorbachev and by
rival I mean not necessarily people who disagree with him on all counts but people who have reservations about the pace of reform that Mr. Gorbachev is trying to push through. They are Mr. Leach off you mentioned him into the number two in the leadership the clear number two responsible for ideology. I'm just a chip brick of head of the KGB and also a politburo member. Now Mr. Leader It sure has been given responsibility for agriculture still a very important job a very difficult job a job that has caused the downfall of many previous Soviet leaders. With the notable exception of going to shove himself who also held that post of course but still he has lost apparently his overall control of ideology. So I think clearly he's been pushed sideways and probably down a bit the same with Mr. Chen because he's lost the KGB post. He still retains a general oversight as a sort of watchdog on legal affairs but he's lost direct control of the KGB and so I think he too is
weakened but they're still in the Politburo they still have a full vote on the Politburo and they still I suppose. Our potential focus for conservative opposition the popular phrase to describe what's been happening is that Mr. Gorbachev has strengthened his hand in terms of the composition of the Politburo. Is that very obvious. It's a significant increase in his support in the Politburo. He doesn't totally control it anymore there are people as we've seen who still have reservations about the pace and the nature of reform. An interesting element in all this is the elevation of Mr. Mead to the idea of him to to a rather gray unknown figure. But it does seem from his appearance last night on television that he is very much a pro is throwing very much in the garbage of mold and he now will take increasing control over ideology. The field that ligature of formerly held and of course Mr. Yakovlev perhaps the closest
man to go to bitch of now has overall control over foreign affairs and foreign relations that's very significant. The new head of the KGB Mr. Kluge cough is an old ally of Yuri Andropov of course was also Mr. Gorbachev patron. So it does seem that they got to talk has been able to move into very significant positions of people that he trusts and people who are fairly firmly behind him. I was talking to Malcolm HAYZLETT of the BBC yesterday's massacre in the Pakistan city of Hyderabad in which up to 160 people were killed apparently at random by unidentified gunmen has set off a chain reaction today. Rioters have been burning shops and cars in the capital of Sindh Province karate and at least 40 more are said to have lost their lives. The Hyderabad killings began with a startling suddenness. Ali has son of the Star newspaper was an eyewitness yesterday on dating and street
in your city and your shop. Nobody. Right now you can do anything. Oppression going to bring me 100 percent. You mean you don't think your opinion. I think many of the victims appear to have been immigrants from India and although the identity of the gunman in Hyderabad isn't yet known. Suspicions are growing that they was Sindhi nationalists. The riots and deaths of the past two days are by no means the first violent incidents between the two communities. And on the line to Islamabad I asked our correspondents George on whether ethnic tensions were at the root of the problem.
It's difficult to say whether it's at the root of the problem. Played into ethnic violence and corruption being trouble but they appear to be running ethnic community taking it out on another. I don't talk that way. Killing a very well planned attack it was done with good coordination and have followed the ethnic situation as we have in Hyderabad and the best thing anybody could have taken advantage of that. The sort of provocateur to stir up trouble even if the original action wasn't coming from an ethnic passion itself. How serious has the rioting been in Karachi. Well it's been pretty serious. The latest figures I have are 40 people have been killed and about 70 have been injured. It having to take to the whole of the city but they are still battling between protesters who are some of them carrying
Kalashnikovs and police and cars have gone around in one instance explosives with flown into some houses which then started to burn down and people were burned. That does look rather serious and of course there's also a danger it could spread to other towns in the same province. Elections are scheduled for next month. Could they be postponed. Well this is the great fear the Pakistanis tend to be rather conspiracy minded and many people do believe that these repeated occurrences are violence of which this is by far the worst for a long time in fact being deliberately created by vested interests within the government or within the administration in order to prevent elections from being held and possibly to allow the army to come in and take over. That's true. Giorgione in Islamabad. It's been impossible to ignore the political overtones attending the inquest of three members of the outlawed IRA the Irish
Republican Army. They were killed by soldiers of Britain's elite s a s regiment when they were planning to detonate a bomb in Gibraltar back in March. So the outcome of the inquest the jury found by a majority of nine to two that they SARS acted within the law in killing the three has also alleged to sharply mixed reaction at the center of the case was whether British forces have orders to shoot to kill rather than a wrist gunman or bombers Barberry reports on reaction to the case and the verdict. It took the jury of 11 men eight hours to reach their majority verdict that the IRA activists were killed lawfully. The decision was of course welcome by the British government but it's hoped that the affair will now fade away is not likely to be fulfilled so easily. The inquest has dominated the headlines on both sides of the Irish Sea for the past four weeks and there are now demands for a public inquiry to clear up questions that were not fully resolved. The British government insists however that the SARS men have been fully vindicated by the coroner's jury. MICHAEL
HAWKER QC was the barrister representing the SARS. I would like to say. But there are modest people who came here and gave that evidence and that evidence has been accepted by the jury and they have been vindicated. The fact remains that the government did not get the unanimous verdict it was hoping for. And the lawyer for the families Mr. Barry McGrory insists that this highlights the uncertainties still surrounding the case. Whether such an enormous amount of information at the disposal of the government forces. I mean they weren't taken in any way by surprise not an arrest operation. I just actually were most actually rehearsed. When so I that all three were shot in the back and all three of them are shot and very close quite. The Irish government itself has so far declined to give detail comment on the inquiry. It's waiting for the report of to observe as its center director. But if the
- Dr. Robert Pepin
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- Dr. Robert Pepin, University of Minnesota physicist and NASA consultant, answers listener questions about the United States space program and the resumption of manned space shuttle operations.
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Producing Organization: Minnesota Public Radio
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- Chicago: “Midday; Dr. Robert Pepin,” 1988-10-01, Minnesota Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 25, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-43-106wx2vr.
- MLA: “Midday; Dr. Robert Pepin.” 1988-10-01. Minnesota Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 25, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-43-106wx2vr>.
- APA: Midday; Dr. Robert Pepin. Boston, MA: Minnesota Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-43-106wx2vr