Former NASA Astronaut Says Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk Are Key to Our Future in Space

What’s it like to leave Earth and realize that from now on, your home planet won’t be the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen? Leroy Chiao, former International Space Station commander and NASA astronaut, can tell you exactly what’s that like.

On today’s show, Glenn wondered if Chiao could compare a spacewalk to anything that everyday people could comprehend.

“Even the sixth time, it’s a bit of a surreal experience,” Chiao said of walking out into space.

What’s in store for the future of U.S. space exploration? Chiao detailed some of NASA’s projects but also pointed to the private sector, calling Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos “visionaries” who will propel the next phase of our ventures into space.

“It’s Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, SpaceX and Blue Origin,” Chiao said. “Here are two guys who are visionaries and who are willing to commit their resources, their personal and influential resources, to go ahead and do exploration. That’s never been done before by commercial companies.”

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Leroy Chiao, he's an astronaut with NASA. He was the commander of the international space -- was he the -- Leroy, you're here. I should probably ask you.

LEROY: International Space Station.

GLENN: International Space Station. And aren't you the guy who went -- you have piloted Russian and Chinese, or just Russian vehicles?

LEROY: Oh, no. I'm an American. I was born in the US, and I flew three space shuttle missions before traveling to the international space station as a copilot aboard a Russian space craft and I was the commentary of the station for six and a half months.

STU: So you haven't really accomplished much in your life.

(Laughter.)

GLENN: Leroy, just on a personal aside, what is it like to come back to earth and look up and go, I'm never going back there, and it was the coolest thing ever?

LEROY: Well, you know it's kind of funny. I mean, when I got selected to be an astronaut, I never imagined the day would come when I would decide to leave NASA. But, you know, during my first two weeks at NASA, there was a going away party for one of the senior guys, and I overheard somebody talking to him, and talking to another guy, and how do you know when it's time to leave?

And he said, when it's time, you'll know.

And I remembered that. And 15 years later, sure enough, I was getting are they to go fly to the International Space Station -- or actually I had just gotten back, and the chief asked me if I would stay for another shuttle mission, and I thought about it for about 30 seconds, and I turned him down. And I surprised himself, but I had done everything that I could do and hope for in a flying career, you know. I've flown space shuttle missions, I've done space walks to help build the space station --

GLENN: What is it like --

LEROY: -- and done all that stuff, and it was time to do something else.

GLENN: Is there anything that the average person can compare to walking out into space the first time?

LEROY: No. It's -- it is, you know, even the sixth time, it's a bit of a surreal experience. You're actually in the space suit which you can think of it as a personal space craft. It's got all the life support system and everything. But you're all alone. There's nobody else that can help you except for your partner who's out there with you.

But, you know, it's kind of a weird feeling the very first time, looking back through the shuttle windows and waving to my buddies inside who are about three feet away, but something happened, we were out there alone, and, you know, it was kind of up to us to save ourselves.

But, you know, it's okay. Because we're well trained and everything works well, and, you know, certainly there's risk, but you know what to do.

And, you know, we were able to get our jobs done, but it is kind of a weird thing, you know. [Laughs.]

GLENN: Yeah, I bet it is. I wanted to ask you about the Chinese shot of the -- what is it, the Chang E?

LEROY: Yep.

GLENN: Can you explain, going on the other side of the moon, it'll be the first time really that we can hear deep sky, or -- or radio without all of the static from earth. Right?

LEROY: Well, hmm, not really. Because you still have to relay through that -- that relay satellite. Right? So, you know, you're -- the fact that they're going to the far side of the moon is unique. Nobody has landed a probe over there. Not for any particular reason, except that, you know, you have to have a relay satellite in order to communicate with it. So they've got to first put that relay satellite in that HALO orbit so you can relay messages from the far side of the moon back to the ground stations on the earth. But it's going to be interesting to see if there's any difference between what we found on our scientific probes on the side that we can see versus the far side.

GLENN: Why all of a sudden -- and I think it's a great thing. I'm excited with, you know, with what Elon Musk is doing and everything else. But why all of a sudden do we have this race, it seems, to go up into space again?

LEROY: Well, you know, you're right. The commercial side has been the very exciting wild card. NASA has been going along. We've gone the shuttle program, spatial program and we're plodding along with exploration, although there's been no serious -- or know significant, I should say, or farther advancing political and financial commitment to that. There's been a lot of talk, but -- and we are hopeful of developing the new vehicles, but it's Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, Space X and Blue Origin, and here were two guys who are visionaries and who are willing to commit their resources, their personal and influential resources, to go ahead and do exploration. That's never been done before by commercial companies.

You know, where's the profit in colonizing Mars, as Elon Musk wants to do, or in the case of Jeff Bezos, he wants to build infrastructure in low earth orbit and out into cis-lunar space. So he's kind of going -- sounds like a Field of Dreams thing, build it and they'll come. But it would be difficult to get like a Boeing or a Lockheed. There's no way their shareholders or boards would let them go do these things. But these guys, they're out there and they're serious. They're building rockets, launching rockets, and it's exciting. They're pushing exploration for the first time we've got commercial companies pushing exploration.

GLENN: How realistic -- I've read that helium 3, the moon is rich with helium 3, and if you had a fusion system, that you could -- if you could fill the space shuttle with helium 3 and it would run -- it would be enough power for the United States for a year. Is there any way to transfer this or use this?

LEROY: [Laughs.] Well, helium 3, I mean, helium 3 is present on the moon. But it's in the soil in the parts per billion concentration. So that is, you know, for every gram of helium 3 that you might harvest, it'd be a billion grams of regular, you know, lunar soil that you'd have to go through and find a way to separate this stuff out. So it's theoretically possible. You could even -- theoretically possible to separate the helium 3 and store it and bring it back to earth. But the other part of the problem is we don't have a fusion reactor. We've been 20 years from a fusion reactor since the 1950s. Right? And so -- [Laughs.] -- we need to invent a fusion reactor that is practical and actually works before -- before we talk about bringing helium 3 back from the moon.

But people, you know, have used helium 3 as a justification for going back to the moon. And to me, that's nice, but there are a lot more practical reasons to go. If we're going to go to Mars, the moon is the perfect place to prove your equipment, to train your crews, to get some experience before sending all that stuff to Mars, because the moon is pretty close. It's only three days away. If there's an issue you can get your crew back. Mars on the other hand, closest approach is on the average about six months away.

STU: As we saw with Matt Damon.

GLENN: That guy, man.

STU: He's had a tough time. Many journeys are turned out poorly for Matt Damon

GLENN: Leroy, when you hear the size of the rocket that Elon Musk is building, he says it's going to be 40 stories tall and with fit a 747 inside of the day when you see -- and I know this is Hollywood, but when you see these movies, and we are developing eventually some sort of inner planetary, you know, vehicles, they're enormous. Do we -- do we build those in space on the moon? Or do we launch them?

LEROY: You know, there's different ways to look at this. Elon Musk did announce these huge rockets that he wants to build. And that's to support his vision of colonizing Mars.

So he's envisioning building space craft that can take 100 or more passengers to go, you know, start to colonize mars. There's two schools of thought. Either you launch it all at once and you have to have a huge rocket to do that or you build gas station in, say, low earth orbit or orbit around the moon, and then you launch kind of an empty vehicle out there and then fuel it up to go. Right?

So there are pluses and minuses to each approach, but what Elon is talking about is building a huge rocket, much bigger than the Saturn 5. In the 1950s, 1960s, the United States, it was called the Nova rocket. They had these ideas where they were going to build these similarly huge rockets to do interplanetary explorations.

So there's certainly something to that. There's some history to it. You know, the thing with Elon Musk that I've learned, he may not make the exact date that he projects, but by and large, he's able to get things done. You look at the successes of Space X, with Falcon 9 and with Tesla. It's pretty impressive.

GLENN: So if Elon Musk called you and said, hey, I want you to come and colonize Mars, you could take your family, would you do it?

LEROY: You know what? I would love to go explore Mars, but I have no interest in living there. Life is much better here on the earth. Earth orbit, it's great to go out there and have the adventure, but I'm going to come back here.

GLENN: Leroy, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

LEROY: My pleasure.

GLENN: Leroy Chiao, an astronaut extraordinaire, and something that the early astronauts did not have the opportunity to do, and that's to go back into space over and over and over again.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.