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Guest: Dr. Madhu Thangalevu; Topics, Lunar return policy & mission needs/planning, ISDC Moon Track, using space for better living on Earth and much more.
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We welcomed Dr. Madhu Thangalevu back to the program for this two segment 90 minute broad range discussion covering returning to the Moon, how to use what we learn from space and the Moon for better living on Earth, especially in light of the trending high density metropolitan area demands that are expected for the future. In addition, we talked about rocket travel, fuels, ISDC and the Moon Track plus the USC Fall 2019 Engineering studio for returning to the Moon ASAP by 2022 plus that will be needed for the lunar return. Please note that our guest was using a cell phone with poor quality audio. We apologize for the lack of audio clarity at times during this program due to a very poor cell phone connection.
Our guest started off talking about his just completed spring semester Architecture course at USC, "Space and the City: Lessons from the Future." As part of this discussion, Madhu spent time talking about future high density living on Earth which he said would likely be underground, perhaps as 100-200 floors underground. He described living this far underground, answered questions about living like that, mentioned that cars would not be part of this type of living plus much more. Let us know what you think about this by posting on our blog. He said we were learning how to do this by being in space, the Shuttle, ISS, and eventually with space settlements or habitats. One thing our guest talked quite a bit about was living 100 floors underground right here on Earth to deal with metropolitan area expected growth in the future. Madhu had much to say about the underground living we spoke of in this segment. He answered several listener questions about it and said it would be a future trend. He was asked about windows, lighting, fresh air, walking a dog, and cars. Listen to his description of a virtual window. Let us know what you think. It sounded yucky to me.
For the balance of the first segment, we turned our attention to plans to return to the Moon and eventually go on to Mars. Madhu spoke to returning to the Moon and Presidential Directive SPD#1. There were many subtopics to Madhu's discussion including radiation beyond LEO with a recommendation to fly humans and learn real time about radiation issues and solutions. Madhu spoke in support of the lunar Gateway, especially in the context of transits to Mars. I did tell him that there was substantial Gateway opposition but he pointed out that so far the Gateway was the national program with no signs of it being changed. SLS and Orion were discussed as were the big rockets under development by SpaceX and Blue Origin. He talked a lunar lander and at one point suggested that those that made the landers back in the Apollo days simply dust off their plans as we know the hardware worked and we could do it to get back to the Moon as soon as possible. Madhu mentioned rocket fuels which he also suggested had an important place for use right here on Earth. Upper stage rockets were mentioned along with beyond LEO travel and having a presence in LLO. Madhu spoke strongly for MALEO (modular assemble in low Earth orbit) as being crucial to helping all the players, specifically the private companies and the international countries participating in costly space missions. The lunar lander discussion picked up again as did his commentary on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuels and uses. The SpaceX Dragon mishap came up but Madhu was optimistic that the accident would not hurt commercial crew timelines. I did raise skeptical points about our lunar return policy, especially regarding costs and budgets. Listen to how Madhu handled such skepticism.
For the second segment, we talked more about Moon-Mars, SPD1 and our space p0licy. Here our guest addressed deep space radiation in detail, ISRU development and work, and spacecraft vehicles. He addressed costs and said it would be less costly to build in LEO than to ship to the Moon. The lunar return timeline of 2024 came up for discussion. He talked about how the lunar return mission would benefit Earth and then he brought up the ESA Moon Village project with the Moon Village Association. Once again he addressed the benefits and value of ISRU.
In the last part of the program, our guest focused on ISDC 19 (https://isdc2019.nss.org). Our guest was once again in charge of the ISDC Moon Track. Madhu talked about exciting abstracts submitted for the program, noted that Buzz was going to be a speaker presenting exciting ideas for returning to the Moon and going on to Mars. He was extremely positive about the plans and efforts to go back to the Moon and eventually on to Mars. As for ISDC this year, he described the eight sessions covering vision and policy, commercial development, the lunar Gateway and more. He invited late abstract submissions for the event but said that it this late date, they would have to be exceptional to get on the schedule.
Before we ended the program, Madhu mentioned his fall engineering studio at USC which has a theme "Return to the MOON ASA 2022." He went over some of the big systems still needed for the lunar return and said we needed to get back to the Moon ASAP. Listen to his reasoning for this. You can find out more about his Studio class at USC via https://sites.google.com/a/usc.edu/aste527/home.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program. You can reach our guest through his USC faculty pages and class website.