Rand Simberg, frequent contributor to PJ and a former project manager at Rockwell International Corporation, stops by today to discuss his recent book, Safe Is Not An Option: Overcoming The Futile Obsession With Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion Into Space.

As Rand explains, the culture of NASA is much more sclerotic than its 1960s-vintage “Right Stuff” era, in which the feats that put Man on the Moon in the space of a decade could never be repeated today. These days, as Rand notes, instead of treating astronauts like the military test pilots being assigned to orbit the earth, NASA considers them as being akin to “national treasures,” as science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle once wrote.

Will commercial manned spaceflight pick up where NASA has left off? In contrast to moribund NASA, Simberg describes commercial spaceflight as “fairly vibrant.” And considering the saber rattling going on from Russia, who are threatening to cut off access to the International Space Station via their ancient Soyuz rockets, that’s a good thing.

In the meantime, as Rand notes at his book’s Website, “Safety Cannot Be The Highest Priority In NASA Spaceflight,” if you agree, visit his site and sign his petition “to send Congress a message and try to fix the NASA authorization bill.”

But first, check out our 11 minute interview, during which Rand will discuss:

● His forecast for the next decade of human spaceflight, from both the private and government sectors.

● The final post-mortem on the now-retired Space Shuttle.

● Is NASA making a mistake with its proposed successor?

● When did NASA win the Space Race? (Hint, it wasn’t Apollo 11.)

● Do today’s NASA staffers see the agency as being superior to current private space efforts?

● What’s going on with Michael Mann’s lawsuit against him?

● How will the public and U.S. government react when the first person is killed during a commercial spaceflight?

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(11 minutes, 21 seconds long; 10.4 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 3.25 MB lo-fi edition.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.