Guest: Dr. Madhu Thangavelu; Topics: Multiple space topics covering the SpaceX Demo-2 flight for return to human spaceflight, returning to the Moon, lunar landers, policy, SLS, Orion, important timelines and more.
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We welcomed back to the show Dr. Madhu Thangavelu to not only discuss his fall 2020 USC ASTE 527 graduate Space Exploration Architectures Concept Synthesis Studio class but the upcoming SpaceX Dem0-2 return to human spaceflight for the US, SpaceX, Blue origin, National Space Policy Directives, lunar return and lunar landers plus where on the Moon to first land humans. Multiple other topics were brought up and discussed during our one segment 96 minute discussion. In addition, our guest posted a PDF flyer for his fall class on the blog for this particular show so take a look at it. Madhu also wanted listeners to have this link to be able to access his USC class: USC Astro studio archive URL: https://sites.google.com/a/usc.edu/aste527/home.
We started our discussion with our guest talking about the first attempted launch of the SpaceX Demo-2 flight which was cancelled to weather a few days ago. Madhu said that SpaceX was way ahead of the competition. He went on to say that any company not using reusability for their rockets was living and operating in a back century. Our guest had much to say on the reusability issue along with commenting on both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. This gave way to a brief commentary regarding Boeing as Madhu was asked about the other private sector human spaceflight capsule, the Boeing CST-100. Our guest addressed some Boeing history and said that mocking the company due to the problems it was having was not a good idea. He then talked about older companies being stuck with legacy and often they need reorganizing. Don't miss all of what he said on this point.
Given Madhu's Boeing commentary, a listener asked him about SLS and Orion, Todd in San Diego even asked if the projects would finally be cancelled when SpaceX shows success getting astronauts to the ISS. Our guest thought expendable rockets were old technology so to speak without a future going forward. No specific answer was provided to Todd's question about SLS cancellation but my impression was that these two government projects would continue unless congress chose to shut down supporting them.
The discussion topic moved to our returning to the Moon plans and the 2024 and 2028 timelines for the return. Don't miss what our guest had to say about both 2024 and 2028. He also talked about the lunar Gateway and the fact that to get to the lunar surface one could go directly there without having to stop at Gateway. At this point he brought up the USC concept MAXIM from his Design Studio Class. For details, please contact Professor Thangavelu. He also talked about lunar landers and suggested using a design such as the Apollo LEM lander rather than inventing and building a complex new one. He said the new one was unnecessary and that the plans for the LEM were probably available to be modernized and used. Madhu talked about the other human lunar lander concepts that were recently selected by NASA. He also talked about Gateway and a primary plan for using it for Mars missions.
Our caller for the day was Dallas who disagreed with our guest on sending humans to the lunar south pole. Dallas supported that idea, not the suggestion Madhu was making which was to go to the equator. Listen to what each had to say and why. Let us know your thoughts by posting such on our blog. Dallas took us through a short description of each of the human lander winning projects. As for timelines, at one point Madhu suggested the lander should be for four people to go to the Moon for the 2024 goal. Dallas was not particularly supportive of the lander needing four people but he did say NASA needed a good goal or one would never reach any goal. Dallas and Madhu had a vibrant discussion on many additional elements of our plans to go the Moon. Don't miss what the two talked about at it was important and interesting. Note what Dallas said about why startups were easier to do for aerospace than in Europe and many other countries in the world. Before Dallas ended his call, the two talked about lunar light, light int the shadows and more. The last topic for Dallas and Madhu was to seek their opinion on the lunar return program surviving a change of administration this coming November. Listen to what each said. You might even be surprised by what you hear.
I changed the topic and asked Madhu about ISDC 2021 to be held in Los Angeles. Also, about USC and their plans to open up classes for the fall semester due to having been shut down as a result of Covid-19. As we were approaching the end of our discussion, Madhu talked about and promoted the Moon Village Association (https://moonvillageassociation.org). In addition, Madhu spoke to the need for space for all mankind, for humanity, global progress and moving forward for a better world. Don't miss his concluding comments.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Madhu through me or his USC faculty website, https://arch.usc.edu/people/madhu-thangavelu.