Broadcast 3935 Dr. Joel Sercel

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Dr. Joel Sercel;  TransAstra, the TransAstra Vision, moving satellites to different orbits, tugs, power from the sun & water, ethics & morality in space business, Sutter telescope technology, cislunar development, sustainability for the future, & much more. See their website,

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We welcomed Dr. Joel Sercel back to the program to talk about his company, TransAstra, as he is both the CTO and CEO of the company.  Discussing TransAstra with Joel was very much like talking with Joel about his own ethics, morality, views of the world, space, and Earth, plus his business and vision goals.  I say this because when Joel was discussing these attributes for the company, I got it that as so goes TransAstra goes Dr. Sercel. During our 74 minute conversation, multiple topics came up including many generated by the listeners.  As I have done before, I'm drawing on the tags and key words to help identify the multiple topics, the order discussed, and to offer a concise summary of this multiple topic program.  For your convenience, the tags/key words have been repeated below.

Tags and Key Words:   Dr. Joel Sercel, TransAstra, the TransAstra vision, NewSpace, human space exploration, the industrialization of cislunar space, space mining, near Earth asteroid, public private partnership with NASA, reusable space tugs, propellant from space, space resource utilization, space tourism, lowering space access costs, challenges to TransAstra goals, important timelines, TransAstra Sutter telescope, Celestron partnership, telescope technology, image processing, finding fast moving interstellar objects, finding volatile space chemicals, water ice, propellant ingredients, asteroid size, space settlement, changing orbits in space, free space, planetary surface settlement, finding the gravity RX, R&D now for the gravity RX, suggested lab experimental program, space solar powered in-space system, shielding, in-space structures, risk taking and acceptance, space weapons, humans as biggest risk concern, ethics and morality for sustainability, extreme regulatory environment, biotech, AI, figuring out the right regulations, the Rule of Law and Markets, settling Mars, Elon Musk and Bob Zubrin, no biological research is irresponsible, stewardship of Earth, Slooh telescope partnership, systems engineering to agile engineering. 

So many subjects of interest came up that its hard to focus on just a few for this program review.  During the first part of the program, Joel talked about the TransAstra vision which I thought was very powerful.  Also clear and easy to work toward but maybe not so easy to obtain.  To understand the vision, check out their home page and scroll down for the section on their Mission, their goal, and what the company had to say about "Engineering The Future of Space."  Several short discussions stood out for me.  The first was the vision which Joel talked about extensively. When you hear this part of the program and note what I suggested for reading on their website, post your comments on our blog for this program.  I also found the parts focusing on their technology to be very interesting.  This included the Sutter Telescope System which he explained in detail plus he talked about the partnerships in place making use of this technology.  Also, Joel talked about the Worker Bee Technology, optical mining but what made it so interesting for me were the commercial partnerships in place for generating income from these innovations.  I thought this to be most impressive.  In talking about these technologies, Joel discussed various company strategies. Getting a glimpse of TransAstra operations from the inside which was what Joel was presenting was unique among my space company interviews.  TransAstra definitely stands out in this area.  As for the telescope technology, Joel was asked if it could see and track the fast moving interstellar objects we have been hearing so much about of late.  The answer was no because to track those items its a different technology than used by Sutter.  Don't miss the short discussion on interstellar objects. As I said, most interesting. 

Another standout during the discussion happened when Joel was asked what the company was doing about resolving questions pertaining to settlement and the gravity RX.  Joel had much to say about settlement, especially about it being on the surface of a planet or in free space.  Hint:  He spoke to the benefits of free space.  This discussion led to his talking about ethical, moral and responsible settlement. He even called out Musk and Zubrin for not supporting or at least so far not doing the needed biological research for safety for the people going to Mars.  Don't miss all of what Joel said on this subject and about the need to be responsible.  This led to a short discussion about regulations and what might be needed as compared to what might be detrimental and excessive. 

Yet another area of discussion that stood out for me was when risk came up from a listener email. After responding to the listener that there was no certainty, our guest had a lot to say about risk, managing risk and the ethical and moral approach to risk taking.  One thing Joel said was that the biggest concern in risk taking was the human.  As we were moving toward the end of the interview, our guest had lots to say about AI, robotics, and the absence of  human rights in countries that are space countries. He addressed the Rule of Law along with markets.  Space debris responsibility came up, then before we ended, I asked our guest about the new TransAstra partnership with Slooh for telescopes around the world and people wanting to use them for their own space viewing, research and education.  Don't miss his concluding remarks.

Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Dr. Sercel through me or his website.




Joel Sercel, CEO of TransAstra is with us. See

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07 Oct 2022 Dr. Joel Sercel
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