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Casual Space

Jul 16, 2020

Joe Cassady is Executive Director of Space Programs in the Washington DC Operations for Aerojet Rocketdyne.  Joe and the AR team help to plan human missions to the Moon and Mars, helping to develop the strategy and architectures for future space and launch systems.

Joe and Beth met at the NASA Stennis Space Center and the NASA Michoud Assembly Center in New Orleans for the NASA Artemis Day celebration. Together, Beth and Joe geek out about rocket engines and what it takes to get us to the Moon and Mars and beyond. They discuss the different types of rockets, types of propulsion systems, how building rocket engines is a kind of architecture, and working to shorten the transit time of getting to the places we want to go in space. Learn what the GREEN RUN test is coming up, and why it’s another HUGE milestone in our journey toward our return to the moon. What surprises people most when it comes to rocket engines? Find out all this and more on this episode with Joe! 

 Beth’s favorite quote from Joe on the podcast: Literally, tens of thousands of people and hundreds of companies are involved- many are small companies that are our suppliers…they’re the real lifeblood of things like this and they are very proud of it. Being able to go out, and go across the country and say to people, ‘The road to Mars and the road back to the Moon starts here, in your town. You’re part of this’. It’s really exciting. 

More great stuff from Joe:

We’re able to use what we learned on the Space Shuttle Program- some of the very engines themselves on a fleet of orbiters that flew three of the RS-25s that gave us an inventory of engines! Rather than keeping them on the orbiters that went to museums, they removed the flight engines and we’ll be using them for the first few Artemis missions! We went back an equipped them with a new brain, and electronic controller…it’s really neat to see them be available to the nation to get us on this path in an accelerated way. 

“I’m looking forward to the day we put those boots back on the Moon, and I’m really really looking forward to seeing the first steps taken on the surface of Mars.” 

About Joe Cassady is Aerojet Rocketdyne's Executive Director for Space in the company’s Washington Operations. He is responsible for strategy and capture activities related to many of the company’s NASA programs, including: the Space Launch System (SLS);the propulsion system for the Orion deep space capsule; Commercial Crew propulsion and power systems; advanced electric propulsion; International Space System (ISS) power system, as well as AFRL and DARPA programs. He also is involved with research activities for next-generation space technology, including additive manufacturing, advanced materials, non-toxic propellants, modular propulsion for small satellites, and nuclear propulsion and power technology efforts.

Joseph Cassady joined Aerojet in 1985 and was appointed to his present position in June 2013. Previously, he served in various Engineering and Business Development positions related to advanced propulsion for missiles and spacecraft. He began his career at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards AFB, where he performed research into the acceleration mechanisms of Magneto Plasma Dynamic (MPD) thrusters as part of an AFOSR graduate program. After graduation, Joseph Cassady continued his research at the AFRPL, where he helped to create the in-house Electric Propulsion Laboratory (EPL). He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Purdue University. He is the recipient of several technical awards from Aerojet Rocketdyne and outside organizations. Joseph Cassady has authored or co-authored more than 50 papers dealing with mission design, space architectures, and propulsion technology and its applications and holds four patents for electric propulsion technologies. His professional affiliations included the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he is an Associate Fellow; the American Astronautical Society; and the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society, where he serves as Vice President. He also serves on the board of ExploreMars, Inc., an organization dedicated to education, STEM activities and outreach related to the exploration of Mars.


Videos and more from this rocket engine conversation: 

State of NASA

What is the Green Run test mentioned?

What is Artemis Core Stage?

What is a rocket and how does it work?

About AeroJet Rocketdyne:

“Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to its space, missile defense, strategic, tactical missile and armaments customers throughout the world. Aerojet Rocketdyne's strategic and tactical missile programs defend America, our troops and our allies.” 

More about Joe and where to find him: 

Twitter: @MarsJoe

Joe obtained his BS and MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University as well as a Graduate Certificate in Systems Engineering from the George Washington University.  He has nearly 40 years of experience in various forms of rocket propulsion and mission and systems analysis and has authored more than 60 technical papers dealing with electric propulsion, power and attitude control systems, space architectures and mission analysis. Recently, Mr Cassady collaborated with three Purdue University professors to co-author a new textbook for university level studies entitled Rocket Propulsion. He also serves on the Board of the non-profit Explore Mars, Inc.