A Timely and Excellent Production: Destination Moon

A new documentary about lunar return from CuriosityStream

The internet video streaming channel CuriosityStream has released a documentary about a return to the Moon produced by Chris Haws.  The five-part, hour-long production nicely outlines the rationale and approach for going back to the Moon to find, develop and use its resources.

I was asked to participate in this production, where I discuss the aspects of lunar return on camera. I am very pleased with the final product.  The graphics are very well done.

You can preview the five parts at the CuriosityStream web site:

Chapter 1: A Matter of Gravity

Chapter 2: Water – The Big Question

Chapter 3: From Outpost to Colony

Chapter 4: Surviving……And Thriving?

Chapter 5: Mars Direct or Moon First

A separate review of the series can be found HERE.

While I received no financial benefit from the production, it certainly advances my own (and others’) firm belief in the value of the Moon to humanity’s future in space.

This entry was posted in Lunar development, Lunar exploration, space policy, space technology, Space transportation. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A Timely and Excellent Production: Destination Moon

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for the link. Any idea when/where the complete five part package can be viewed?

    The graphics are indeed good. Interestingly they appear to use the (canceled) Constellation Systems launch architecture.

    • Paul Spudis says:


      You can see the entire thing right now on CuriosityStream, a streaming video service run by Discovery Channel (linked in the piece above). It is a pay video service, but they do offer a free trial period.

      Many of the graphics were provided by Jack Frassanito and Associates, who do a lot of the computer animations that the agency uses. As you might expect, the production of new animations of people going to the Moon have been a little scarce in the last 9 years.

      • Joe says:

        Got it on where to watch.

        “Many of the graphics were provided by Jack Frassanito and Associates, who do a lot of the computer animations that the agency uses. As you might expect, the production of new animations of people going to the Moon have been a little scarce in the last 9 years.”

        Hopefully that will be changing soon.

  2. billgamesh says:

    Finished with part 1: It was pretty good.

    I think I could have explained gravity wells and rockets a little better. Please put me in touch with Chris Haws!

    Looking at the episode guide I see chapter 4 mentions cosmic radiation and I would have started the entire series with the ultimate reason to go into space- the survival imperative- and space radiation as THE showstopper for Human Space Flight.

    And the Ice on the Moon as the key to the whole endeavor.

    I would suggest the follow-on to this documentary be “The Ice on the Moon” and focus on lunar polar ice as radiation shielding being the critical and only practical enabler of long duration human space missions.

    • billgamesh says:

      Done. In the second part the question is asked “What big difficulty have we overlooked”?

      My answer to that question is the difficulty of trying to accomplish anything without more SLS launches. A Super Heavy Lift Vehicle launching 6 to 8 times a year is in my view the prerequisite to any progress. I suspect an “incremental” approach using smaller launchers is meant to garner support (necessary since NewSpace has been promising Mars on the Cheap for a decade). I do not believe such a device has any merit and it would be better to proclaim the SLS as THE Moon rocket and go with that. The only worthwhile goal is the Moon and as a consequence LEO and Mars activities should be abandoned.

      In the fifth part Dr. Spudis states the consensus that Mars is the best destination in “the search for life” and I have to raise an objection to this. A half a dozen ocean moons in the outer solar system are more likely to harbor life. And as I have stated many times on this forum, the Moon is the only place to acquire cosmic ray water shielding, assemble, test, and launch nuclear missions to the outer planets- and if we have atomic spaceships capable of interplanetary travel then bypassing Mars for those ocean moons is the logical path.

      • Paul Spudis says:

        Why don’t you watch the entire series before you complain about something that’s said in a preview? You have no context on which to base your “objection.”

  3. Michael Wright says:

    Watched previews, Part 5 has Dr, Spudis describing many scientists and engineers cut their teeth on science fiction [many Mars stories] so they figured Mars direct, we’ve already been to the Moon. Spudis says, “I think that is looking the wrong way…” and the preview ends!

    Regarding water on the Moon, we know it is there, which continuing on with my gripes about Mars Direct. “Go where the water is” the theme for those looking for life and yet they the ignore the Moon. Obviously just about everyone on this list is pro-Moon but I wonder how to get more to realize non-earth water is only three days away. Where did the water come from? Comets? Could there be microbes frozen solid in some of it? Seems like lots of interesting science in addition to huge potential industrial use like producing rocket fuel.

    • Joe says:

      “Where did the water come from? Comets? Could there be microbes frozen solid in some of it?”

      Interesting idea, but best be careful what is wished for.

      Arguments have been made against human Mars exploration on grounds it might “corrupt” indigenous Martian life.

      Not hard to picture similar arguments (however disingenuous) made against human Lunar activities.

      • Grand Lunar says:

        “Not hard to picture similar arguments (however disingenuous) made against human Lunar activities.”

        Let’s hope not!

        Difficult enough as it is to get people on board the idea of pursuing future human lunar activity.

  4. Grand Lunar says:

    I hope the series will be available elsewhere eventually (i.e, YouTube, Dailymotion, etc).

    At least there is effort to educate the public like this. Now if only the powers that be can get the message

  5. billgamesh says:

    I really enjoyed the series and especially enjoyed hearing Dr. Spudis talk about his work and vision for the future. Though I disagree with some of the basic assumptions made and make criticisms, I am not trying to be “negative” or counterproductive. On the contrary, that the U.S. retreated from the Moon back into LEO in the 70’s and has come to our present ridiculous circumstance where we are paying hundreds of millions of tax dollars to the Russians for rides into LEO is what I am negative about. The Moon was the prize we never should have took our eyes off of. If we had kept exploring with robot landers and rovers in the 70’s we would have found the ice in a few years and the decision to build a permanent base there instead of the space station to nowhere would have come about. We now have the opportunity to learn from our mistake but instead….

    The regulars here are in the “Moon First Lobby” but I doubt any of us are paid lobbyists making 6 figures and commuting the beltway everyday to our office near the capitol. Dr. Spudis often allows those in the “Mars Direct Lobby” to comment (they are actually NewSpace fans but since Mars is central to that ideology I include them). The problem has always been, in my view, simple human greed. Simply stated, the aerospace industry realized after Apollo 1 that Human Space Flight (Beyond Earth Orbit) was going to be hard money while cold war toys were a fortune waiting to be made. They chose the easy money. No amount of public support, short of voting politicians out of office, was going to change that direction. And here we are. NewSpace is promising big but any close look at what they are doing reveals a scam designed to place satellite launch companies in the hands of billionaire hobbyists courtesy of the taxpayer. Very little to do with HSF-BEO.

    When NASA points itself back at the Moon and only the Moon, and Musk and Bezos and others stop playing their games and commit to building lunar landers then, and only then, will some progress be possible.

    • Michael Wright says:

      In Spudis’ previous blog Joe adds:
      “Additionally, their guru [Musk] has recently: (1) Abandoned the Red Dragon (a Mars lander), (2) De-scoped the ITS (his proposed Mars Vehicle), and (3) Endorsed – wait for it – establishing a Base on the Moon.”

      Once these billionaires realize they are pouring money into the Mars drain but not much to show for it, they could re-direct their business objectives. However, lobbying for lunar equipment means need to build and fly hardware now. Unlike artwork, if problems occur physical things get damaged or lost, and someone will have to answer up to some very demanding questions. But if things do work, those responsible will be superstars.

      • Joe says:

        At least in the popular culture “these billionaires” means Bezos and Musk.Your comment is on point where Musk is concerned, but Bezos is a different matter.

        Bezos has always been an advocate of Lunar ISRU development before venturing further. Additionally, Blue Origin’s Blue Moon Lunar Cargo Lander is based on their Sub-Orbital (from earth) New Shepard vehicle which has been extensively tested in ways that would support a Lunar SSTO cargo Vehicle design.

        As a support system for an independent crew transport it deserves serious consideration.

        • billgamesh says:

          I wonder how much of a payload New Shepard could land on the Moon? If it can throttle down to 20,000 pounds then X6 would be 60 tons of thrust. To soft land the total weight of the vehicle would be more than that. I imagine it would have to have some form of cryo-cooler system to keep the propellants from boiling off on the trip to the Moon. Could it carry a small mobile refinery capable of harvesting ice, splitting water, and refilling the propellant tanks with that payload- and carry a useful cargo of water back into Low Lunar Orbit?

          If there is easily refined ice in those cold traps then 6 SLS missions a year could land…six such lander/refineries per year and within a few years a constant flow of water would be going into wet workshops in LLO. That would mean shielding that would end radiation dosing of astronauts and a tether system could provide 1G artificial gravity allowing unlimited stays. Add nuclear propulsion and you have a true spaceship.

          Very exciting to imagine it could all happen in the space of a decade or so.

    • Vladislaw says:

      “When NASA points itself back at the Moon and only the Moon,”

      Won’t the executive branch and congress have something to say about that?

      • Paul Spudis says:

        Won’t the executive branch and congress have something to say about that?

        They have and will. The NASA 2010 Authorization directed NASA to include the lunar surface in future activities, a direction that the agency proceeded to ignore. The best thing about the new Space Council is that they can serve as an agency watchdog in the future, correcting attempts to slow roll national policy.

      • billgamesh says:

        China, Europe, and Japan are all going to the Moon with people. Not Mars. They understand only lunar resources can make interplanetary Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO) possible. We simply cannot go anywhere else until we go back to the Moon first. In my view nuclear energy is required and there is no substitute which means LEO is NOT the place where deep space missions are going to be assembled, tested, and launched: it is going to happen on or in the vicinity of, the Moon. LEO is a dead end. True atomic spaceships capable of voyaging to the gas giants will certainly bypass arid Mars in favor of transporting submersibles to those half a dozen moons with great subsurface oceans. Mars is a dead end.

        So as I stated, “When NASA points itself back at the Moon and only the Moon – then, and only then, will some progress be possible.

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