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Broadcast 1901 (Special Edition)Listen to the show!
Aired on November 26th, 2012
Guests: Jake Dodd, Professor Madhu Thangavelu
Guests: Dr. Madhu Thangavelu, Jake Dodd. Topics: This program discusses Jake's concept of placing a nuclear fuel plant in space in support of nuclear propulsion/space needs. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. We welcomed back Dr. Madhu Thangalevu and his student Jake Dodd to discuss the concept of SNAP-X: The Space Nuclear Activation Plant. I have uploaded his AIAA paper by the same title and his Power Point slide presentation to The Space Show blog which should provide you with more specific information about Jake's concept. Essentially, the plan calls for putting a breeder reactor in space to supply nuclear fuel for space needs safely rather than launching from Earth all the time. During our first segment, both Professor Thangavelu and Mr. Dodd explained the concept in detail. We talked about weapons proliferation in the process, the breeder reactor and why that was the chosen technology, the safety in place for this technology, and the use of it in the EML1 location and why. Part of our conversation focused in on projected time lines and development costs as I tried to get an idea of what would be involved in bringing this project to at least an Earth-based demo status. Listeners emailed and called in about the problems given the amount of fear within the public and parts of the government every time the word nuclear is mentioned, then saying that the use of a breeder reactor heightens that societal fear level. We discussed ways of dealing with this during our discussion. In addition, listeners questioned the safety of a breeder reactor and the use of Thorium as a non-weapon nuclear fuel. In our second segment, we talked more about tight budgets, private and public partnerships, and international cooperation to bring this project to at least demo status. Charles called in to challenge our guests on their Thorium comments regarding conversion to U-233 which he said was an effective fuel for weapons as was U-235. I believe you will find this exchange most useful in understanding many of the issues regarding this project. Our guests brought up the nuclear rocket history and the NERVA project, plus we asked Jake for his plan of attack in getting his project going. As our program was ending, Madhu talked about his next Design Studio Class which culminates with new student projects on Dec. 18th. I look forward to talking about many of these projects on The Space Show in 2013. Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to email either of our guests, please do so through me.

About our guests...

Jake Dodd
Jake Dodd grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. In 2007, I made the decision to leave high school after my Junior year—before graduating—to attend USC. Part of my decisionto jump ship to college was my passion for spaceflight, and at USC I had found a program thatwas right up my alley. On that note, I received my B.S in Astronautics and Space TechnologyEngineering (ASTE) from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in May 2011. In December 2012, I will complete my M.S. in the same program. I've worked in the systems engineering field for the last two years for TASC Inc. Since August 2011, my work there has centered on one of the Air Force’s space programs. Over the last few years, I’ve also been actively developing business/product concepts, both for school and for a startup that I co-founded. Some of these projects are space-related, but I’ve also developed an appetite for web technologies. I’m not certain what the future holds for me—whether it’s a career in space, the web, or an intersection of the two—but I am certain that concept development and execution are my passion.

Professor Madhu Thangavelu
Professor Madhu Thangavelu is with the Department Of Astronautical Engineering within the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a graduate thesis adviser and lecturer for a graduate seminar in Extreme Environment Habitat Design as part of the USC School of Architecture. He has been the Conductor of the ASTE 527 Space Exploration Architectures Concept and Synthesis Studio in the Department of Astronautical Engineering in the School of Engineering at USC, as well as the Space Projects Director for the Calearth Institute located in Hesperia, California. Dr. Thangavelu is also an Advisory Board Member for the Los Angeles Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a creative consultant to the aerospace and entertainment industries on concept synthesis for complex space architectures, and the recipient of the Lunar Base Design Award from the National Space Foundation. Dr. Thangavelu is also the co-author of The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Colonization which was published in 1999 second edition in 2007. He is the invited author of "Living on the Moon" a chapter in The Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering, a major reference work by John Wiley and Sons, published in 2010, updated in 2012. He is on the team that won the NASA NIAC award for USC Engineering and Architecture Schools in 2011. He was also part of the first graduating class from the International Space University held at MIT in 1988. His space expertise includes space system architectures - conception, design and creation of complex space projects, such as space stations, lunar and Mars missions to facilitate human activities in space and other extra-terrestrial environments, extra-terrestrial bases to facilitate development and colonization of the moon and planets, architectural designs to facilitate human activities in extreme environments of the Earth - in such naturally uninhabitable environments as underground and underwater dwellings, Antarctic bases, submarines, deep-sea oil drilling platforms, etc., visualizing future applications for space technologies, and building science.

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