Momentum for the Moon

The LRO spacecraft over the south pole of the Moon. We know a lot more about the Moon and its resources than we did 13 years ago when the VSE was announced.

Engineer and stalwart lunar advocate Dennis Wingo has written a new piece on his blog titled “Getting ‘Going Back to the Moon’ Right this Time.”   Dennis and I, and many others, have traveled and struggled down this road together – and apart, for years, never putting down the mantel of working to secure a sustainable space economy and future.  Dennis recounts some history of previous lunar efforts in his post, a journey I also have taken .  We have slightly differing perspectives on this history, but we are in complete agreement that the idea of using the Moon to develop cislunar space is the path that needs to be followed.

I greatly respect Dennis’ efforts and I thank him for the trust he gives me in his post.  It reminded me of a piece we wrote together, along with Gordon Woodcock, in 2009 that was published at SpaceRef titled Going Beyond the Status Quo in Space, in which we tried to extend the amazingly far-sighted vision of former Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger, whose 2006 speech was sadly neglected by NASA in implementing the Vision for Space Exploration.

I began this blog to give my own insights on this history – my attempt to prevent us from repeating those things that hurt the program, as well as to advocate for those things that many of us believe will move us forward.  Toward that end, Tony Lavoie and I designed a lunar return architecture in 2011 (which we updated last year), focused specifically on the development and use of the resources of the Moon.

Is there new momentum for lunar return?  And if so, will we succeed?  That remains to be seen.  But we know much more about the Moon and its resources than we did prior to those two previous initiatives – information that makes lunar return much more attractive than ever. In fact, I recently wrote a book on this very topic.

An important note: Please check out a recent blog post on “Why the Moon Matters” by Congressman Jim Bridenstine, another candle lit in the space policy darkness.

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25 Responses to Momentum for the Moon

  1. Andrew Swallow says:

    I hope a copy of the plan is sent to the transition team.

    • Paul Spudis says:

      Which plan? There are several around describing varying approaches for lunar return. Anyway, their job is to prepare the agency for new leadership, not to impose a new direction — that will have to come from the President, whoever he chooses for NASA Administrator, and the Congress.

      • Andrew Swallow says:

        > Which plan?

        Which ever plan you consider appropriate. The transition team will report back to President Trump.

        If you are giving them a genuine choice a written comparison of the options is possible. Give the advantages and disadvantages of each option. As Margaret Thatcher repeatedly pointed out, at policy level she only has time to read 2 pages.

        • billgamesh says:

          If Trump is going to decide the future of space exploration on the basis of two pages of “options” then I can only pray NewSpace advocates are not allowed to contaminate those two pieces of paper.

          The only real option for expanding the human presence beyond the dead end of LEO is to first get rid of the soon-to-die-of-old-age space station to nowhere and the taxi’s that billions are being poured into. The follow on is to immediately redirect those billions into the SLS.

          Expanded production of the only Super Heavy Lift Vehicle presently being assembled opens the door to the ice on the Moon. Once prospecting and mapping the resources are accomplished the course will become clear and ever larger budgets approved.

          The ice on the Moon providing water as radiation shielding is the single critical enabler for any Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO). If we are going anywhere else in the solar system then exploiting that resource has to happen before any progress at all can be made.

          No other option.

          If human beings seek to embark on voyages of exploration to the moons of the gas giants in this century then it most likely must begin now. Factories on the Moon manufacturing monolithic alloy discs massing thousands of tons are the only practical path to an interplanetary spaceship propulsion system (nuclear pulse propulsion).

          Considering the infrastructure that must be created before such industrial operations can begin it might take a quarter century to establish a self-sustaining base on the Moon, another quarter century to get prototype factories and metal refining operations running, and a final quarter century of production and testing before spaceships can launch multi-year exploration missions.

  2. Joe says:

    The new post by Congressman Bridenstine is particularly interesting.

    The following excerpt (as one example) could have been taken from one of Dr. Spudis’s posts here:

    “Water ice on the Moon could be used to refuel satellites in orbit or perform on-orbit maintenance. Government and commercial satellite operators could save hundreds of millions of dollars by servicing their satellites with resources from the Moon rather than disposing of, and replacing, their expensive investments. Eventually, the customers of Direct TV, Dish Network, internet broadband from space, satellite radio, weather data, and others could see their bills reduced and their service capacities greatly increased.”

    Then he added this about the need for a whole-of-government approach and the role of a newly reconstituted National Space Council the in accomplishing such a goal:

    “While most satellites are not currently powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, next generation satellite architectures could utilize lunar propellant if low-cost in-orbit servicing were available. Commercial operators will follow if the United States leads with its own constellations. Such leadership would require a whole-of-government approach with the interagency support of the newly reconstituted National Space Council. The objective is a self-sustaining, cis-lunar economy, whereby government and commercial operators save money and maximize the utilization of space through the use of lunar resources.”

    The Congressman clearly is not just paying lip service to supporting the Space Program. He actually understands the issues and is giving the subject serious independent thought.

    This could turn out to be particularly significant as the Wall Street Journal (among others) is reporting that Bridenstine is the front runner to be the new NASA Administrator.

    A number of “new” space types are celebrating the notion that, since he supports Commercial Cargo/Crew, Bridenstine would cancel SLS/Orion.

    They are missing (or willfully ignoring) statements in the post such as these:

    “Fortunately, the Space Launch System and Orion will start testing in 2018. This system, with a commercial lander, could quickly place machines and robots on the Moon to begin the cis-lunar economy.”

    “Today, we are experiencing an space renaissance. The first launch of the Space Launch System is less than two years away. In 2021, we will use the Orion capsule to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since the 1970s.”

    All of this, of course, depends on the decisions to be made by the new President and the support of the Congress. Still there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.

    • billgamesh says:

      NPR is certainly and willfully ignoring his comments:

      “He could make some real decisions. He could say, forget about going to an asteroid. We are going to go back to the moon. We’re going to put people on the lunar surface. He could double down on private space companies. He could try to get NASA to stop building its big, massive, new rocket. So new presidents really do have an opportunity to put their mark on NASA and sort of shift its direction.”

      Basically yet another NewSpace infomercial- and being a democrat I find it disgusting (but not surprising considering the history Musk and Obama have) that public radio is contributing to the SLS-hate campaign.

      What really bugs me is suddenly NewSpace infers they are advocating a lunar return.
      Anybody who believes that has not been paying attention for the last 6 years.
      They are lying like they always do- they will say anything they think will sucker more marks and sleep soundly afterward.
      The worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.

  3. Anon says:

    Hold on a sec Paul. In regards Bridenstine:

    Avocates of the American Space Rennaisance Act, with its lofty aim to place American front, back and center may think this is great for America. However, it ignores the rest of the world, the real world. It throws a direct challenge to others to undermine our efforts, not uplift them. In particular, it overlooks, negates even dismisses the efforts of others. The outcome: we may get blindsided, torpedoed, say, Sputniked, by such aspirations if ithers develop unique and novel technologies. If that were to occur, it may even signal a death knoll. I for one do not believe this simple but so worldly unsophisticated non-sense. This repeat of Cold-War-like American proudism, exclusivism and ultra-nationalistic rhetoric is really all rather unproductive, if not counterproductive. Downright, it is patriotic travestism. Instead of making friends and allies, it sidelines and potentially creates artificial and undesired adversaries, if not enemies, where previously there might have been none, and whose capabilities may remain unknown and secret until the last and too late minute. By analogy, this archaic thinking is precisely why we the intel community is now seeing a holding out of vital intel of foreign origins (cf. comments by Mike Rogers, US Former House Intel Committee Chair).

    • Paul Spudis says:

      Determining to restore American exceptionalism is space is “destabilizing”? On the contrary, abrogating our national responsibilities for cislunar presence and space power projection has led us to the current cul-de-sac in our civil space program. China will soon possess all the capabilities they need to deny us our space assets in time of crisis. To sit back and ignore this eventuality would be the height of irresponsibility.

      To borrow a comment once made in the House of Lords, I am indebted to you for demonstrating that there is no such thing as unutterable nonsense.

    • James says:

      “This repeat of Cold-War-like American proudism, exclusivism and ultra-nationalistic rhetoric is really all rather unproductive, if not counterproductive.”

      I’m an old anti-war activist. I believe in peace and the international development of the Moon.

      Nonetheless, military folks around the world have access to the Internet, can read English, and can fully understand the following:

      “Situational awareness in space is a key to successful application of space power

      At some time in the future, the physical presence of humans in space will be necessary to provide greater situational awareness

      Technological competence is required to become a space power, and conversely, technological benefits are derived from being a space power

      Control of space is the linchpin upon which a nation’s space power depends

      As with earthbound media, the weaponization of space is inevitable, though the manner and timing are not at all predictable.” Page 15.

      From: ‘Toward a Theory of Space Power: Defining Principles for U.S. Space Policy’
      By James Oberg May 20, 2003

      “There are many advantages to applying photofission for nuclear pulsed space propulsion. Photofission has been demonstrated by readily available sources, such as natural uranium isotopes, lead, and thorium [13] [14]. As opposed to a difficult to regulate neutron flux, photofission is controlled based on the activation of the ultra-intense laser, which can also be remote to the propulsion system [2].”

      From: ‘Project New Orion: Pulsed Nuclear Space Propulsion Using Photofission Activated by Ultra-Intense Laser’
      By Robert LeMoyne and Timothy Mastroianni

      There are valuable deposits of “thorium” on the Moon.

      Classic Orion or ‘New Orion’ or other types of very large spaceships will most likely eventually be built on and launched from the Moon.

      Who will lead in building and using those very large spaceships to explore, colonize, and develop the resources of our Solar System?

      Right now, NASA’s leaders have their heads buried deep in some pseudo Martian sand and are not leading America or the world anywhere.

      Congressman Bridenstine is trying hard to pull NASA’s leaders out of the pseudo Martian sand. And we should thank him for his efforts to provide some rational space leadership.

      The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July 1975 was a good beginning for trust building international human space missions.

      “The mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments (including an engineered eclipse of the Sun by Apollo to allow Soyuz to take photographs of the solar corona), and provided useful engineering experience for future joint US–Russian space flights, such as the Shuttle–Mir Program and the International Space Station.”

      And, “Thus, both sides recognized ASTP as a political act of peace.”

      From: ‘Apollo–Soyuz Test Project’ Wikipedia

      Will such international missions guarantee the peaceful development of the Moon and the rest of Cislunar Space?

      Unfortunately, no. But can such missions be useful in helping to reduce security risks for everyone on the Home Planet?


      Folks in Congress wisely want SLS and Orion international space missions going to the Moon and tapping its resources.

      Presidents, with their confused and sometimes irrational thinking, come and go.

      Individuals in Congress, and their aides, can point our space policy in a logical space resource discovering, tapping, and using direction for many decades into the future.

  4. Paul, thanks for the link today and the kind words. Paul, as much as anyone in the world, know what a lonely road it has been on occasion to be an advocate of lunar exploration and development. We both bear the scars of the many ups and downs and swings of policy and implementation regarding America’s space efforts. To properly recount the history would require a book level treatment, something we or I may do one day.

    In looking back on the history to determine why things failed and researching the subject has given me a broader perspective on the things that were done and where we both (Paul and I) and others such as Gordon Woodcock, Mike Duke, Wendell Mendell, John Lewis, and our other fellow travelers of the older generation. The thing that disappoints me probably the most is to see those men who were our mentors when we were first getting started, retiring from the field of battle due to age and some with disgust regarding the direction that our efforts have been diverted to over the last 30 years.

    I get to talk to a lot of young people regarding space who come through as part of NASAs’ education programs and some of this is done in the hope of informing them of the pitfalls and providing pathways to help change the future. The future does not just happen, it takes people dedicated to making it so. Paul and I are now among the generation of senior leadership in this realm and we are diligently doing all that we can to push the ball forward, not just for our narrow interests, but in the interest of all mankind.

  5. NASA’s human space program will always be viewed with frustration– until we finally do what has been logical all along– and return Americans permanently to the lunar surface!

    Dr. Spudis, thanks for posting a link to your updated paper on your lunar architecture with Lavoie. Its much appreciated!


  6. Addendum…

    My degree is in engineering physics, one of those bastard cross over degrees that confabulates the sciences and engineering. It was damn hard to get and much more than just engineering!

  7. billgamesh says:

    Not a Wingo fan. That’s all I have to say about that.

    Momentum for the Moon in my view is best represented by a continuum of projects undertaken by three very smart people: The Parker-Dyson-Spudis continuum.

    “Continuum: a range or series of things that are slightly different from each other and that exist between two different possibilities.”

    Eugene Parker in 2006 explained the essential problem facing space travelers- cosmic radiation- and offered a guaranteed solution. This solution was also qualified with “-way too heavy-” and “-not feasible.” That solution was a massive water shield practically impossible to lift into space.

    Freeman Dyson in 1958 began work on project Orion, a spaceship propelled by specially designed atomic bombs. Dyson’s work led him to believe even a large city could be lifted into space using nuclear explosions. This capability was qualified with the realization any such propulsion system utilized in the magnetosphere would contaminate the Earth with fallout.

    Two years after Parker published his article the Chandrayaan lunar mission began sending data back to Earth- to Paul Spudis. And two years after that the findings concerning water ice at the lunar poles were released. Lunar resources can provide the massive water shield and the Moon is outside the magnetosphere where nuclear pulse propulsion can be utilized. Thanks Doc.

    Any momentum in the direction of the Moon in the near future has to be prefaced with 3 letters:
    SLS. Only a Super Heavy Lift Vehicle with hydrogen upper stages can send worthwhile payloads directly to the Moon. Only a state sponsored program has the resources to create a cislunar infrastructure. There is no cheap. Expanding core production at Michoud to enable 6 to 10 missions a year is the prerequisite for any progress in Human Space Flight Beyond Low Earth Orbit (HSF-BLEO).

    While I am a fan of ISRU on the Moon I am a confirmed enemy of the ruinous ideology broadly referred to as “NewSpace.” The present outlook with some confirmed lunar advocates in positions influencing the course of the Space Agency is promising but….

    The pernicious cancerous influence of the NewSpace mob and their bait and switch con is just as likely to end any hope of humans again leaving the gravitational field of Earth as they first did in 1968.

    • James says:

      Technology evolves.

      Lots of money is being spent around the world on military technology and reducing space access costs. Lunar resources and Cislunar Space are far too important to our nation’s security and economy to ignore while we instead try waltzing off to build high risk and costly colonies on Mars that do nothing to help out Americans and other folks on Earth.

      Cheaper and easier access to space by launchers built by many nations, and even small companies and organizations, is coming. What does that mean? Lots of new security issues will occur in Cislunar Space that cannot be reasonably ignored, including:

      “Although the SALT II (1979) prohibited the deployment of orbital weapons of mass destruction, it did not prohibit the deployment of conventional weapons. The system is not prohibited by either the Outer Space Treaty or the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.[8][10]”

      And, “The idea is that the weapon would naturally contain a large kinetic energy, because it moves at orbital velocities, at least 8 kilometers per second. As the rod would approach Earth it would necessarily lose most of the velocity, but the remaining energy would cause considerable damage. Some systems are quoted as having the yield of a small tactical nuclear bomb.[9]”

      And, “With 6–8 satellites on a given orbit, a target could be hit within 12–15 minutes from any given time, less than half the time taken by an ICBM and without the launch warning.”

      From: ‘Kinetic bombardment’ Wikipedia

      To help mitigate national security risks, Congress has repeatedly encouraged international human space missions.

      The history of the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, SLS, and International Orion and the space laws Congress has passed and sent to various Presidents to sign have made it repeatedly clear that NASA is legally expected “where practical” to do international missions in Cislunar Space.


      .—Congress reaffirms the policy stated in section 501(a) of the National
      Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16761(a)), that the United States shall maintain an uninterrupted capability for human space flight and operations in low-Earth orbit, and beyond, as an essential instrument of national security and of the capacity to ensure continued United States participation and leadership in the exploration and utilization of space.”

      And, “(a) LONG TERM GOAL
      .—The long term goal of the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical, in a manner involving international partners.

      (a) FINDINGS
      .—Congress makes the following findings:
      (1) The extension of the human presence from low-Earth orbit to other regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit will enable missions to the surface of the Moon and missions to deep space destinations such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars.
      (2) The regions of cis-lunar space are accessible to other national and commercial launch capabilities, and such access raises a host of national security concerns and economic implications that international human space endeavors can help to address.
      (3) The ability to support human missions in regions beyond low-Earth orbit and on the surface of the Moon can also drive developments in emerging areas of space infrastructure and technology.
      (4) Developments in space infrastructure and technology can stimulate and enable increased space applications, such as in-space servicing, propellant resupply and transfer, and in situ resource utilization, and open opportunities for additional users of space, whether national, commercial, or international.”

      From: PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010

      Yep, Americans are probably going to lead international “in situ resource utilization” missions to the Moon.

      But to put it quite bluntly, if our American leaders are too intellectually lazy and space policy incompetent to lead on the Moon and in the rest of Cislunar Space, then maybe we shouldn’t whine too much if other folks set the agenda and economic and security rules and then proceed to police the Moon and our space neighborhood as they see fit to do so.

      Are our leaders intellectually lazy and space policy incompetent?

      If you consider the foolish Mars nonsense that NASA’s leadership and the President have been spouting since 2010, the answer is clearly, “Yes.”

      Time will tell if that intellectual laziness and space policy incompetence will change.

      • billgamesh says:

        “Lots of money is being spent around the world on military technology and reducing space access costs.”

        The military has always been easy money- I know from personal experience many of these cold war toys do not work as advertised. As for reducing space access costs- there is no cheap. If it could be reduced by miraculous reusable hobby rockets it would have happened by now. Advances in technology have not proven capable of significantly reducing the cost of space access so far. Recent explosions are proof.

        “-we instead try waltzing off to build high risk and costly colonies on Mars-”

        Nobody is building anything on Mars. It’s a scam James.

        “-the weapon would naturally contain a large kinetic energy,-”

        Rods from God go back to the Reagan Star Wars program. Any conflict qualifying as a real war between superpowers would begin with several million tungsten pellets fired into the space around Earth effectively destroying all satellite assets. All of them. The best first move against a nation that counts on space to control their combat forces. Kinetic energy strikes are the least of our worries. Unless you are talking about deflecting an asteroid or comet toward Earth and which is something these asteroid mining “entrepreneurs” would be capable of doing with SEP technology. A fairly minor rock would be more powerful than a hundred hydrogen bombs. A serious risk that nobody is talking about; everyone just blathers away about making money.

        The best path to reducing conflict in the space around Earth is to concentrate all the electronics- commercial and military- on large human-crewed platforms. They then essentially become a part of American or Russian or Chinese or whatever nation they are in GEO above.

        Such platforms would require lunar-water-as-radiation-shielding.

        • James says:

          “As for reducing space access costs- there is no cheap.”

          Yep. But lower space access costs and higher launcher reliability numbers than what we have seen recently are coming.


          “Con-current with the Liquid fly-back booster research in the late 90s and early 00s CNES along with Russia concluded studies indicating that reusing the first stage was economically unviable as manufacturing ten rockets a year was cheaper and more feasible than recovery, refurbishment and loss of performance caused by reusability.[35]”

          From: ‘Ariane 6’ Wikipedia

          “ATK proposed an advanced SRB nicknamed “Dark Knight”. This booster would switch from a steel case to one made of lighter composite material, use a more energetic propellant, and reduce the number of segments from five to four.[44] It would deliver over 20,000 kN (4,500,000 lbf) maximum thrust and weigh 790,000 kg (1,750,000 lb) at ignition. According to ATK, the advanced booster would be 40% less expensive than the Shuttle-derived five-segment SRB.”

          From: ‘Space Launch System’ at: Wikipedia

          Note the potential significant risk and cost reductions for all launchers and boosters, including the core of the SLS and proposed Dark Knight boosters, of:

          “Researchers have long known how strong carbon can be when it’s arranged in the right way. Graphene, which essentially an extremely thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions, is ridiculously strong, and the applications for it are growing by the day.”

          And, “MIT discovered that by taking many small flakes of graphene and fusing them together they could essentially create a mesh-like structure that, while porous, retained graphene’s amazing strength properties. They used 3D plastic models to test what kind of a structure would be the strongest under pressure, and then arranged the graphene in the same manner. The resulting material is only 5% as dense as steel, but an amazing 10 times stronger.”

          And, “MIT envisions the material potentially being used in automobiles, airplanes, and other applications where weight needs to be as low as possible, but strength and rigidity is still of great importance. ”

          From: ‘MIT just invented one of the strongest, lightest materials known to man’
          By Mike Wehner BGR News January 7, 2017

          Everyone is going to be able to tap Lunar resources, help industrialize the Moon, and participate in accelerating the development of Cislunar Space.

          Massive amounts of Lunar iron and/or water will be needed for Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding for large spaceships and robust space stations. Lunar ISRU propellant will be used on the Moon and near the Earth.

          Most likely very large and capable Orion or New Orion nuclear pulse spaceships will get built on the Moon and head off across our Solar System.

          Maybe even one day soon NASA’s leaders will publicly and clearly tell the world that the resources of the Moon are far more useful for meeting the economic, communication, Space Based Solar Power, technology, and security needs of the Home Planet than anything we could do on Mars in the next few decades.

          Time will tell.

    • …The pernicious cancerous influence of the NewSpace mob and their bait and switch con is just as likely to end any hope of humans again leaving the gravitational field of Earth as they first did in 1968….

      I would note that the traditional approach has not resulted in any beyond low earth orbit vehicle being built since 1968. I would further note that two vehicles that could have gone to the Moon are sitting at JSC and KSC. I would additionally note that it was only by the smallest margins that Apollo 16 and 17 did not end up the same way. As a participant, along with Paul in the last two attempts, I see very little reason to have faith in the traditional approach.

  8. Paul, thanks for the observation.

    I think the reason why the feeling is that Lunar return is on a return, is that the costs are decreasing while level of will is on a slight increase. It is the condition where the costs overlap with the level of actual will is when a sustainable Lunar program would occur. It is this fact that is visible on the horizon. This not just because of SpaceX but because of ULA because of external and internal forces is on a cost streamlining course. The external force is price competition and the internal force is Tory Bruno in modernizing and putting the company into more of a viable commercial player than just part of the military industrial complex. This will ultimately transform ULA into a strong competitor for cis-Lunar operations to anything SpaceX or others may present. ULA presents the most bright spots when it comes to Lunar return reduction in costs, depot, and suporting Lunar hydrolox ISRU technologies.

    The feeling is that it is not just one thing by one actor. But multiple items by multiple actors showing multiple paths to the capability of supporting actual Lunar ops. This is fueling the feeling of Lunar return becoming more viable.

    • Joe says:

      I was wondering how long it would be before someone popped up to tell us we have SpaceX and (the Mars Colony obsessed) Musk to thank for any chance for return to the Moon.

      However, it is interesting to note you leave out another “new’ space player; Blue Origin (Bezos).

      In fact a lot of ULA’s attempted renaissance is due to their joint work with Blue Origin on the new Vulcan Booster (BE3/BE4 engines).

      Why was Blue Origin not referenced?

      Could not be because of the “bad blood” between Musk and Bezos, could it?

      • SpaceX interest is not in the Moon. But their attack on the cost of access to space has made an impact at other companies like ULA.

        As far as Blue Origin, they are an associate not yet a subcontractor or a competitor (New Glenn). So they are part of ULA’s proposed solution not yet part of the impetus. ULA’s other work that has been slow roled for many years seems to have been accelerated with ACES first flight in 2018/2019. With ACES comes on-orbit refueling and other items like long duration cryo-storage both technologies which support a robust cis-Lunar architecture based on Lunar water. It is here that most are watching how this develops.

  9. James says:

    I’m a Democrat. Fortunately, a few folks are seeing and stating what is obvious:

    “Eight years later, as Obama prepares to depart the White House, he leaves the nation in a cloud of disappointment, recrimination, and even paranoia. None of the wars Obama inherited are truly over, and he has started or joined America to several more. If anything, the sense of America’s decline is even more palpable than before.”

    And, “Now his own Democratic Party has fallen to new lows in the state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country. Instead of handing on the executive branch to an ordained successor, he is passing it onto the man who questioned his birth certificate.

    If you had left your country and party in such a state, you’d be acting like a petulant jerk, too.”

    From: ‘The pathetic end of the Obama era’
    By Michael Brendan Dougherty Senior correspondent at TheWeek January 3, 2017

    “For those reasons, not to mention lots of others, your chances of coming up with workable solutions and keeping your people alive – or evacuating them in time to save them if everything goes down the tubes – are a whole lot greater when your colony is only 250,000 miles away, a distance coverable in less than a week, than if it’s 50 million miles away when things are just right every three years.”

    From: ‘Mars, Or The Moon? January 5, 2017

  10. James says:

    Reality isn’t defined or shaped by the empty Mars rhetoric that has been passed off as our American human spaceflight policy for the last 6 years. A space policy based on the realities of the Moon’s resources and our opportunities to enhance and greatly expand the development of Cislunar Space is needed.

    “After discussions with lawmakers, aides, and officials in the aerospace community since then, it has become clear this is no transient movement. Rather, the Moon-then-Mars plan has bipartisan support.”

    And, “Every one of NASA’s international partners supports a Moon-first strategy, and there is the risk if NASA shoots for Mars that China or Russia might lead development of some type of lunar colony. Then there is commercialism. Planning missions to the Moon would provide additional business opportunities for a thriving commercial space industry that may see Mars as a step too far for its existing business plans. And finally, there is the potential to make deep space exploration more economical. Lunar miners could tap into ice at the Moon’s poles to provide hydrogen and oxygen propellants to fuel spacecraft for journeys to Mars.”

    From: ‘Seeing the end of Obama’s space doctrine, a bipartisan Congress moves in
    Democrats and Republicans see the Moon as a pragmatic first step in deep space.’
    By Eric Berger – 6/7/2016

    “As a result of this workshop, the National Space Society calls upon the Trump Administration to:

    1. Re-establish a National Space Council.
    2. Establish a thriving space economy as a goal of NASA and implement this goal via public-private partnerships, including the purchase in-space of fuel mined from the lunar surface/asteroids, and the use of commercial services to supply future space projects on and near the Moon.
    3. Lead in the construction of a public/private lunar resource extraction base that includes international participation.”

    From: ‘National Space Society Presidential Policy Workshop Leaders Urge Incoming Administration to Lead Lunar Base Construction’ (Washington, DC — November 30, 2016)

    We know what we should be doing. The Moon is waiting for us. Let’s start getting ready to build and fully integrate the Moon’s mining and other useful industries with the businesses of our Home Planet.

  11. Michael Wright says:

    I began reading your book and mentions of several lunar missions proposed in 1980s that were all declined. Then along comes Clementine that was a spinoff from SDI (I always wondered why it was DOD that jump started lunar mission since Apollo). I thought it was interesting of doing careful analysis of detection of hydrogen speculating if it is in water form, eventually leading to LCROSS. I remember Moonfest at Ames Research Center in 2009 and the LCROSS impact night where they let general public spend entire night at Ames seeing everything from speakers, movies, and LCROSS mission status on the big screen. I sure like to see more of that (I’m getting really bored with Mars stuff from speculating about water and horribly bad movies like the recent Nat Geo series).

    I can see new focus by NASA on the Moon with a new administration as for various reasons the Moon was specifically ignored. However, my concern will be dismantling of earth science portion of NASA to provides funds for new lunar missions (which is really not that much). As if the NASA budget is a fixed amount so it’s a matter how that pie is sliced up.

    I see our current space program as a zero sum game where people argue New Space vs. SLS. I see NS providing a role, i.e. Dragon provides LEO up and down capability and has big doors for passing large equipment to ISS. I’ve not followed Blue Origin much, I see DreamChaser some potential but small payload capability but they seem to be taking years before becoming operational. SLS can put huge loads into space but I see it as too expensive (no money for transfer stage, habitat module, lander), too infrequent of only 10 missions from 2018 to 2030 with no landings on the Moon or Mars.

    Maybe we can break from ongoing paradigm of chasing Mars. I can see why focus on the Moon as if Mars is the goal then launching everything from fuel and food from the deepest gravity well in the inner solar system is simply not going to work. I guess not many get the Rocket Eqn, but then look at Saturn V. To send something small like the Apollo CSM and LM took something the size of a skyscraper that was mostly fuel. I will continue reading your book, I haven’t intuitively understand yet industrial processes of lunar utilization.

    I am still curious why it is only you and Dennis that talk about the Moon when everyone else talks about Mars. I guess they are the ones with money and they don’t want to corner themselves having to come up with excuses why it cannot be immediately allocated to build transfer stage and landers.

    • Joe says:

      “SLS can put huge loads into space but I see it as too expensive (no money for transfer stage, habitat module, lander), too infrequent of only 10 missions from 2018 to 2030 with no landings on the Moon or Mars.”

      Those are all artificial restrictions placed on the SLS system by conscious decisions made by the current administration. Another administration can remove them. That would cost some amount of money to reverse the bad decisions made for the last eight years. However, that amount of money should not be prohibitive.

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