Broadcast 2922 Dr. Marshall Kaplan

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Guest:  Dr. Marshall Kaplan;  Topics:  Debris sweeper for small LEO space debris removal, rocket reusability, PPP, commercial space & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   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. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See   

We welcomed back Dr. Marshall Kaplan of Launchspace Technologies back to the show to discuss his space debris sweeper concept and much more.  You can check out his website for more information and his papers  Visit for more information.  We started the first segment of our 86 minute program by having Dr. Kaplan explain his debris sweeper program to us.  By the way, there is a very good Space News article on the concept in the April 4, 2017 issue under the headline "A debris sweeper that doubles as a satellite tracker? Yes, please" by Debra Werner.  ({"issue_id":399389,"view":"articleBrowser","article_id":"2759617"}).  Dr. Kaplan's discussion was very clear and to the point as to why a solution to the problem was so important given the debris issues in the 600-1200 KM orbit  He talked about the growing congestion and the increasing probability of a collision and what it would mean to us all if this particular orbital range got jammed up with debris or even worse, a collision creating even more debris junk.  Not only did he explain the technology behind his concept but also how the plan might be financed including the use of public private partnerships.  This is a must hear discussion that consumed most of the first segment.  Do not miss it. 

Other first segment discussion topics included insurance costs, large space debris items and their cleanup issues, the origins of the space debris issue coming to our attention, plus an estimate of the cost of potential damages if nothing is done to cleanup the orbit in question as compared to the what it might cost to clean it up and keep it cleaned and free of debris.

In the second segment, we started off by talking about rocket reusability, the Falcon 9, and lower launch costs.  We talked about government launch vehicles using SLS as a comparison.  In addition, listeners asked about reusing the second stage, not just the first stage as SpaceX is now doing.  Marshall was asked if the launch price would drop based on the number of flights a first stage had had.  Don't miss his reply to this question as it may surprise you.  Reusability was mentioned, both from the government as well as from foreign launchers.  This discussion was followed by a question form Andy asking about space solar power (SSP) and debris.  Don't miss what our guest said on this matter. 

Dr. Doug sent in an entire series of questions starting with the idea of using the rocket's upper stage as a lunar lander.  In responding, Dr. Kaplan mentioned that orbits around the Moon were not stable so then Doug sent in another note to identify the orbits that were stable.  Then in response to the comments our guest made about orbiting the Moon or Mars and it being frustrating for those astronauts on those missions coming so close but not going to the surface, Doug sent in a note about Apollo 8 & 10 astronauts not being frustrated. I read his full question so don't miss it.  I commented to Marshall and to Doug that at the time of Apollo 8 and 10, we had no expectations of doing much more but today, our expectations are to set foot on both the Moon and Mars and begin the development of permeant space settlements.  It might be harder to avoid frustration with a flyby mission today given our expectations and far more advanced technology, including life support technology. 

Yet another topic was the idea floated by NASA of an orbiting lunar space station.  As we were coming up on the end of our program with Dr. Kaplan, I asked about a possible IPO down the road to finance the debris sweeper concept. We talked about the Moon vs. Mars debate, using the Moon for a Mars mission in terms of training and more, plus going directly to Mars. Space settlement came up and I asked Marshall for his thoughts on making space settlement a part of our national space policy.  You definitely do not want to miss what our guest had to say in response to this question and about space settlement.  Before ending, Marshall told us about a paper he would be presenting at the AIAA Orlando conference in Sept, Space 2017.  You can contact him for a copy of his paper plus other papers he as written.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program on our website.  You can reach Dr. Kaplan though his website or me.




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02 Jun 2017 Dr. Marshall Kaplan
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