Broadcast 3109 Dr. Thomas Jones

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Dr. Tom Jones; Topics:  Multiple topics including returning to the Moon, Mars, lunar landers, human risk factors, artificial gravity, planetary defense & protection, Apollo 7, NASA budget, ISS commercialization and 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 Dr. Tom Jones back to the show for an 89 minute one segment discussion covering multiple topics.  We started our discussion with the topic of returning to the Moon and his article in the April 2018 issues of Aerospace American, "Wanted: A Realistic Moon Plan."  We talked about returning to the Moon with humans, the LOP-G, lunar rovers and rover development, and the NASA budget problems for returning to the Moon.  Part of this discussion focused on the need to prepare for going into deep space, hence the potential role of the LOP-G.  At one point, our guest said that the technical challenges were not so great compared to the budget issue.  Dr. Jones was asked if SLS was technically essential for deep space and returning to the Moon.  He said it was probably not technically essential but that it was unlikely to die out given the interest congress has consistently shown in the project.  He said it should be used as much as possible given its development.

The ISS came up for discussion and Jerry in Boston asked if it could be privatized.  Our guest had much to say about the future of the ISS, the importance of it, the need to find financial solutions for it, even with the private sector and public private partnerships.  Don't miss his ISS commercialization comments.  I next brought in a few listener email questions.  Doug asked Dr. Jones if he was familiar with the ULA XEUS lander stating that it would be significantly less costly than a traditional lunar lander.  Our guest was not familiar with the project.  Will asked Tom for his assessment of the SpaceX Mars vision.  Tom said that technically we were not there yet for the humans to Mars visit.  He suggested a timeline of approximately 2030-40.  He said there was no rush and we needed to get it right.  Don't miss all of what he said about going to Mars and our readiness, project financing with international partners and probably the use of public private partnerships. 

Tom was asked if he would want to go on a Mars mission where he only orbited Mars or did a Mars flyby.  Would it be too frustrating to undertake such a mission without going to the surface of Mars?  Tom had a great response to this question so don't miss it.  Tom also introduced us to the idea of being in Mars orbit but using AI to run rovers, thus mentally be exploring the surface of Mars.  Make sure you hear this part of our conversation.

Another of our topics was the likelihood of private sector astronauts going to the Moon.  Don't miss what our guest said about this, about robotic and AI advancement plus the private sector working together with the government.  BJohn sent in a question about microgravity and artificial gravity.  We discussed artificial gravity for several minutes.  Tom suggested we also needed to solve the radiation problems.  He suggested we needed innovating concepts for artificial gravity pertaining to rotating the crew quarters or using tethers. 

I asked Tom about crew safety and brought up his January 2018 Aerospace America article, "Their Mission Became our Mission" regarding lessons learned from Columbia and a study of the Columbia debris.  We talked about mitigating risk, what should the risk factor be for human spaceflight, a potential difference in private sector risk assessment as compared to NASA risk assessment.  Tom talked about the need for risk leadership which he explained in detail.  As part of our risk discussion, Apollo came up but Tom said the risks were more or less military risks given the Cold War.  He made the point that we were not in a war at this time so managing risks would be different from the Apollo era.  Our risk discussion was a good one and you should not miss it.  We also talked about lessons learned from Columbia, plus the design of the new private sector spacecraft as compared to the shuttle.  I believe this was a very important discussion.

Planetary Defense was our next topic so I asked our guest about the nuclear option, Project Hammer, which has been discussed on two recent Space Show programs.  Tom talked about NEOs, the size and difficulty in finding them, the type of damage they can do based on their size, and the searches that NASA uses to find the NEOs.   We talked kinetic impact tools and the gravity tractor.  Tom also suggested a budget dollar amount to use for expediting progress in NEO detection.

Planetary Protection was also discussed. You definitely want to hear what our guest had to say and it may surprise you.  At one point he said he favored human expansion into space but be sure to hear all of this discussion.

Apollo 7 was our next topic.  We will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 7 on Oct. 11 later this year,  Tom reminded of us of why Apollo 7 was so important.   Next, Doug called and asked Tom f he thought the shuttle was worth it and were we getting out money's worth with the ISS.  Listen carefully to how Tom answered both parts of Doug's question.  You might be surprised by what Tom had to say in response to Doug's question.  Tom was also asked if he had a blog.  He does and you can check it out at  Tom then talked about and praised the late John Young who he said was one of his instructors at JSC. He also said John never let go of the safety issue.

As we were moving toward the end of our program,  Linda in Tucson asked about space settlement.  Tom said it was plausible, talked about water and asteroids, ISRU but suggested there was no hurry as we have much to do first before we can settle in space.   In terms of Mars, he did not think there was a commercially viable product, at least not yet. 

One of the final topics was the upcoming 50th anniversary of the film 2001 A Space Odyssey. Tom told us that the film inspired him to go for a space career.  He liked the hopeful vision.  He had much more to say about this incredible film so don't miss his comments as we wound down our discussion for today.

Please post your questions/comments on TSS blog for this program which is this archive page.  You can reach Dr. Jones through his website above or me.




NASA's proposed return to the moon, lessons learned from Columbia on flight safety, planetary defense, the 50th anniversary of 2001, & the flight of Apollo 7,& John Young's legacy.

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30 Apr 2018 Dr. Thomas D. Jones
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  • space settlement progress

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • helix-space the space show sponsor