Broadcast 3954 Tom Gardner

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  • The Space Foundation Conference

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The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Tom Gardner;  Topics:  We talked about the Advanced Space CAPSTONE Project, engineering, lunar missions, CAPSTONE goals and objectives, cislunar development, NASA, Starship, lunar plans from other nations including China, Japan, UAE, ESA and Russia.

We welcomed Tom Gardner to the program from Advanced Space to explain and discuss the CAPSTONE Project which is now in a special lunar NRHO orbit.  I strongly recommend you visit their website, www.advancedpace.com as they do an excellent job of describing and explaining the project.  Our guest described the mission, the engineering, the objectives, talked about the Lunar Gateway and the Artemis Program plus we brought up the subject of different ways of getting to the Moon without the need of the Gateway.  In addition, we talked about various human lunar landers for Artemis but toward the end of the program when talking about lunar plans by other space fairing nations, we specifically talked about China's lunar lander concepts and program. 

Early in our discussion, Tom talked about CAPSTONE, the need for low cost spaceflight, launching the mission on a Rocket Lab rocket from New Zealand, the size of the payload, the why behind doing the mission with cubesats.  Our guest was asked about the frequently used term "Off The Shelf" for cubesats and some commercial missions.  As it turns out, off the shelf does not mean parts and products from your local electronics store or Radio Shack (is that still in existence?).  Our guest spent some time talking about what is meant by off the shelf aerospace parts and products. 

During part of the early part of our discussion we talked about the price tag for the mission at $30 million.  Tom was asked how they were able to control costs so well as that price seemed awfully low for a space mission.  Don't miss what Tom said in reply to that specific question.  In addition to needing low cost space access, he brought up many challenges which included supply chain issues, policy and political challenges.  Again, this was an important part of the discussion so be sure to listen to it.

One listener asked our guest by email what the purpose was of the CAPSTONE mission.  Tom discussed in detail the three main objectives of the mission.  After you hear the discussion, post your thoughts on our blog for this show. Let us know what you think of the mission.  This discussion took us into a few challenging questions about Artemis, the Gateway, the way they were going to the Moon when Starship could probably direct to the Moon.  Listen to what our guest said about this as he did discuss it in detail.

Other questions that we dealt with had to do with getting power to the satellite, the life expectancy of the cubesats, how their expiration is handled in terms of debris management, plus a few questions about the SLS.  Toward the end of the program, a listener asked Tom why the Moon, wondering if it would not have been better to go to Mars.  Tom provided a very detailed and involved answer as to why the Moon but he also said we could do more than one thing at once. His company has a Mars project, work in space and CAPSTONE.  Before ending the program, Tom was asked why the company chose a way to the Moon that took four months.  Energy was the key but don't miss all of what Tom had to say in response to this question.

Please post your comments/questions for Tom Gardner on the blog for this show.  You an reach him through the Advanced Space website (https://advancedspace.com)  or me.

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Tom will be discussing the Capstone Project, Cubesats and the Moon!

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29 Nov 2022 Tom Gardner
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