Student Aspirations, Public Excitement and the Purpose of a Space Program

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a couple of groups of university students on the space program and the value of the Moon and received some interesting reactions, which I write about at my latest for Air & Space magazine.  Comment here, if so inclined.

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31 Responses to Student Aspirations, Public Excitement and the Purpose of a Space Program

  1. billgamesh says:

    “-while space is expensive, it need not break the national budget. The key to success in such an effort is to: 1) know exactly what you are trying to achieve-”

    The first space age was about the cold war and the second space age can also be financed by the military in this way: move the nuclear deterrent into deep space on human-crewed spaceships. Over a trillion and a half dollars will have to be spent in the coming decades refurbishing our fleets of nuclear bombers, submarines, and ICBM’s. Unfortunately these systems will be vulnerable no matter what improvements are made. Putting them in space would also provide a way to deflect asteroid and comet impact threats and protect the Earth as well as ratchet down the long standing launch-on-warning scenario.

    Exactly how to do it was described by Eugene Parker in his 2006 Scientific American article “Shielding Space Travelers.” 15 feet of water provides near sea level radiation. The way to this shield was demonstrated by Skylab in 1973 as a dry workshop. A rather fat wet workshop stage can be the shell for such a water shield. The Gemini 11 mission of 1966 demonstrated another component: a tether system to generate artificial Earth gravity. A future iteration of the SLS would provide such a workshop and the Launch Abort System and packaging to survive an anomaly would also provide a way to send fissionable material directly to the vicinity of the Moon, outside the Earth’s magnetosphere, where nuclear propulsion systems can be safely assembled, tested, and launched. LEO is the worst place to do that.

    These tether equipped wet workshop stages, partially filled with lunar water, would allow astronauts to stay in deep space for years at a time with no dosing or debilitation and no damage to their health. The first step in building a fleet of such true spaceships is to establish a cislunar infrastructure dipping water out of the shallow gravity well of the Moon with robot lunar ice harvesters. These landers would make their own fuel from lunar ice and ferry the derived water up to the waiting workshops.

    The first such crew compartments could be transited back across the cislunar sea to GEO and replace the present satellite junkyard with human-crewed telecom platforms thus capturing over 100 billion dollars a year in revenues. This would effectively create an economically viable spaceship construction pipeline. Once the telecom platforms are complete then come the spaceships for the military. The final iteration of a spaceship construction program would involve factories on the Moon forging alloy discs hundreds of feet in diameter as Nuclear Pulse Propulsion engines.

    These discs would finally allow immense payloads of thousands of tons to be lifted off the lunar surface into cislunar space. There are no engineering showstoppers to such a plan. If we decided that is exactly what we were trying to achieve…

  2. GHK says:

    Dr. Spudis said that he was surprised that the students had not heard about the potential value of human space flight beyond LEO. After having researched the teaching of space-associated subjects in the K-12 grades, I am somewhat surprised when students have any knowledge of the space program, as space is a topic frequently not taught at all.

    Texas tried to implement courses that covered space exploration and space science, Similar requirements for space-related education were also in the national Next Generation Science Standards. But there was no defined curriculum; there were no textbooks; the state and most districts did not follow through with any support for teachers or students and after a couple years some districts just decided they would not try to teach these subjects as the challenge to provide scholastically useful materials was simply too great. The attempt to put space into the classroom was a golden opportunity for space supporters but there was no follow through.

    Since there are about 75 million students in the US, all within a few years of having an opportunity to make a difference through their vote, I don’t think there is a lot of hope for expanded national support as long as our students are unaware of the prospects. You can read the study here:

    • billgamesh says:

      The last big popular cultural movement (before the Musk groupies hijacked all the internet forums) was in the late 70’s with the space colonization movement. “The High Frontier” by Gerard K. O’Neill sold well but his work has almost been forgotten now.

      Interestingly, the polar opposites of many of his concepts are now embraced. Mars and all natural bodies were ruled out early on as a second home for humankind by O’Neill due to Earth gravity being a basic prerequisite. Providing 1G can only be done on a large scale by building artificial hollow spinning moons. This concept, less the artificial gravity, goes back to 1929 and the Bernal Sphere. Space solar energy as a cure for global warming was also embraced as the economic engine for building space colonies and even though space solar stands by itself, climate change skepticism and the present administration seem to rule out that justification. In O’Neill’s plan the Moon was the key source of building material and resources- except for water. A mass driver, a kind of Jules Verne space gun throwing lunar ores into cislunar space for processing, was also a key enabler.

      A lunar return is now being contemplated and this is the good news. Water, which was thought to be possibly unavailable on the Moon in the 70’s, is now fairly certain to exist in the hundreds of millions of tons in the form of ice. Even electric rail guns are now a reality.

      • Joe says:

        Good synopsis of the 1970’s O’Neill led space movement, with one exception.

        “Space solar energy as a cure for global warming was also embraced …”

        As the linked news article (from 1970) below shows. the environmentalists concern in the 1970’s was not global warming but a new ice age (global cooling?). Interestingly the cause of the imminent Ice Age was the same as that for global warming – human industrial civilization.

        The “cures” were familiar as well: (1) Outlaw the internal combustion engine, (2) Restrictions on scientific/engineering research and development, (3) Strict population control measure, etc.

        O’Neill, much to his credit, took a more positive tact, though most environmentalists of the period never supported his ideas, but rather the ones mentioned above.,2354081

        • billgamesh says:

          “Global Warming” entered the vernacular in 1975 and “The High Frontier” was completed in 1976 with a publication date of 1977- in which O’Neill specifically mentions the warming of the planet. While some advocating space colonization may have subsequently also talked about a possible ice age…..O’Neill’s book, as I said, proposes space solar power as a way to remedy warming the planet.

          I don’t want to debate this of course: in my view space solar power stands by itself and does not need climate change to support it. But I would not turn away those on the left supporting it for that reason. That would be a case of shooting oneself in the foot, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, etc.

          • Joe says:

            There may have been a paper written in 1975 on the subject (as there have been papers written predicting another wave of global cooling recently) but the popular culture had not caught up. As of about 1980 Time Magazine was still producing cover stories basically predicting glaciers would soon be rolling across the US/Canadian border.

            Note that it has been a while since I read the High Frontier and it is entirely possible that O’Neill (being a good Physicist) had recognized the newer theory.

            In any case I have no desire to debate the subject either, as I actually agree with you about the possible utility of Solar Power Satellites.

            Would not rule out the use of the Soletta/Lunetta concept either.

    • Paul Spudis says:

      Interesting perspective. Every summer, the LPI holds workshops for public school teachers, K-12. I usually speak at these, giving them the cislunar spiel. It always goes over very well and we hear back from these teachers that their students really like the material too. So I guess that at least some schools are adopting space-related curricula.

      • GHK says:

        It is very much dependent on the individual teachers, how much knowledge they have, how much interest, time and dollars the teachers and their districts are willing to give to teacher training and resources required for classes.

        I recently went to a university science workshop course for teachers. The teachers had been in this workshop for a full semester when I attended. I spoke about about progress that had and had not been made in spaceflight.

        One teacher was confused about why I was talking about the debate between Moon and Mars. She was certain that people had been to both. She had no idea that no one had ever been to Mars.

        Texas is a big state with about 1400 school districts and thousands of middle and high schools, and most with numerous teachers teaching science; a large percentage without education or training in the courses they teach. How many have any education in Earth or space science, or in astronomy?

        What fraction are attending LPI workshops? How many have access to the LPI material? In particular I studied one of the largest school districts in the immediate vicinity of the LPI-6 high schools within about 5 miles of the LPI. If the teachers would have made time to go to the LPI they would have found at least some of the materials they might have needed. NASA and the Space Center Houston Teacher Resource Center is not much further than that from them. This is not the typical situation in Texas or the nation, where most schools are hundreds of miles from facilities like LPI or JSC. After attempting to teach the new space science and astronomy courses for three years, that district cancelled their space science and astronomy courses for lack of materials and lack of suitable training for their teachers.

        • Paul Spudis says:

          Obviously, we can’t train every — or even a majority — of teachers in the state of Texas or the nation on how to teach space science. But teacher training courses are given multiple times per year and those are always filled. Certainly I can’t claim that we’re doing all that’s necessary, but we’re doing all that we can.

          I’ll make one final observation. When I was a kid, growing up in the 1960s, NASA would print tons of color lithographs, posters, mission reports and other materials. One of my favorite past times was to write to the centers, asking for information about space. In a week or two, I would receive a large, brown manila envelope containing these (to me) treasures. I would spend hours reading this stuff, pinning the pictures on my bedroom wall and dream of going there myself one day. I still have much of this material. I think that policy did more to educate, inspire and excite the children of America than anything the agency has done since. Yet they deliberately stopped doing that years ago, supposedly to save money (like that happened).

          So it’s not just the educators that are dumb.

          One teacher was confused about why I was talking about the debate between Moon and Mars. She was certain that people had been to both. She had no idea that no one had ever been to Mars.

          For this, you can thank NASA’s blitzkrieg PR machine and their handmaidens in Hollywood, who have spent the last two decades conducting a propaganda campaign that Dr. Goebbels would admire. It impacts the same crowd that watch “The Martian” and think that it’s a reality show.

          • billgamesh says:

            In my view Hollywood is bad for space exploration. Only a very few science fiction movies and shows out of hundreds, actually thousands over the years, show anything serving to promote space exploration with any kind of technical accuracy. “The Expanse” is just the latest that recycles themes from old pulp fiction. A fictional future solar system using actual research done by people like Gerard K. O’Neill, Freeman Dyson, and….Dr. Paul Spudis, would be just as “entertaining.”

  3. Joe says:

    Interesting article.

    It is encouraging that the students (though previously unaware of the possible practical implications of HSF) were open minded (even enthusiastic) about the possibilities when informed of them.

    When I was a kid (much younger than the students discussed here) it was the potential for space development that encouraged me to become an engineer.

    It might (or might not) interest anyone who wants to use space as a way of promoting STEM education to note that what excited me was not the drawings of small groups of astronauts (often in mountain climbing imagery) planting a flag (even as a small child I had trouble identifying with that) that took my attention.

    Rather it was illustrations of large lunar facilities in which thousands of workers would live doing work to expand human civilization. I really identified with that.

    Sadly a lot of that material was (even then) already dated, with most of the then current thinking going along the “flags and footprints” line.

    Hopefully that is a situation that is in the process of being rectified.

    • billgamesh says:

      That is going to take a great deal of hoping.

      Mars as the horizon goal is still largely all that anyone gets from popular culture right now. But the reality that getting to Mars will require going to the Moon first is starting to become more and more apparent. Shotwell at SpaceX is probably regretting saying “we are not Moon people” and the NewSpace fans are suddenly babbling about the Moon when they had nothing but scorn and ridicule for a lunar return for years.

      And Bezos has jumped on the lunar train. I have several times commented that when the billionaire hobbyist entrepreneurs start building lunar landers I would become a NewSpace advocate: not quite yet but that day may come soon because Bezos has talked about this in no uncertain terms.

      The problem is what I left out of my preceding comment about O’Neill and the present polar opposites. O’Neill foresaw a state sponsored public works project on the scale of the Panama canal and Hoover dam. The NewSpace advocates are mostly caught up in their Ayn-Rand-in-Space state hate mindset and want nothing to do with that -and instead want NASA gone and to “hand it all over to Musk.”

      As I have said so many times, in terms of the effect on public opinion, NewSpace is the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.

      • Joe says:

        Good idea to keep track of Bezos and Blue Origin.

        Their BE-3 Hydrogen/Oxygen Engine has already performed multiple flights through Delta-V ranges required for a reusable lunar lander and was apparently designed to support in-space refueling and reuse. Therefore their Blue Moon concept has credibility.

        Also Bezos (in addition to being interested in the Moon, as opposed to Musk’s Mars fixation) appears to want to work in cooperation with the US government and others, as opposed to Musk’s go it alone attitude (except of course Musk wants the government to give him lots of money).

        I agree it is far from a done deal, but it is encouraging.

        • billgamesh says:

          With 150,000 pounds of thrust the BE-3 can lift 900,000 pounds off the lunar surface. I wonder how many hundred tons of water could be lifted into LLO?

  4. Back in the 1960s (before the Moon landings), it was a common belief that the first human landing on the surface of the Moon would be a seminal point in the scientific and technological future of humanity. Unfortunately, most politicians at that time viewed the Moon landings as more of an expensive Mt. Everest type of flag planting stunt designed to win bragging rights over the Soviet Union rather than the pioneering effort that it really was. And, of course, once the Soviet Union decided to end its efforts to travel to the Moon, US politicians also ended NASA’s lunar program while also decommissioning NASA’s beyond LEO capability.

    I think its pretty clear now that the establishment of a permanent water producing and water exporting outpost on the surface of the Moon will— finally— be that seminal moment in humanity’s scientific and technological future.

    But I’m still a bit frustrated that the— Mars First— advocates still don’t understand that establishing a permanent human presence on the surface of the Moon in the 2020s is the fastest and most economical way of eventually establishing a permanent and sustainable human presence on the surface of Mars in the 2030s.

    Thanks Dr. Spudis for continuing to educate our politicians and the young generation about the critical strategic and economic importance of our closest neighbor in space!


    • billgamesh says:

      I’m more than a bit frustrated that the people who should know better still advocate for
      “a permanent and sustainable presence on the surface of Mars.”

      Mars is not a second home for humankind. Not enough gravity or solar energy. It is a scam. The problems with landing and leaving there make an outpost improbable. Why stay there? Why even go there? The ocean moons of the gas giants are far easier to land on and it is far more likely there are living oceans under the surface of the dozens of these bodies. Maybe not a high probability, but compared to barren Mars the possibilities of mini-subs exploring ocean moons are much more interesting and exciting.

      “On the surface of” is not necessarily what is going to happen considering the high probability of giant lava tubes UNDER the surface of the Moon. That would be the site for factories. Dr. Spudis educated me several years ago concerning lunar ice in relation to lava tubes: the areas of the Moon where these tubes are most likely are far away from the poles where the ice is.

      This brings up a possible solution of giant water trucks traveling from the poles to the tube sites. Interestingly, the hundreds of tons of water (probably thousands of Earth tons considering the low gravity) on these trucks would provide radiation shielding for astronaut-scientists on roving field trips of the lunar surface.

      • While we already know that microgravity environments are inherently deleterious to human health, we currently have no idea whether lunar or martian levels of gravity would be significantly deleterious to human health and reproduction.

        Most animals, right here on Earth, live under a perceptively low gravity environment because of their substantially smaller sizes relative to humans. You’d have super human strength and leaping ability (just like on the Moon) if you still had your same body proportions– but you were only about the size and weight of a mouse.

        The only way we will know is if we set up outpost on the Moon and eventually Mars so that astronauts could stay there for several years.


        • billgamesh says:

          I am sorry to disagree with you Marcel but less gravity debilitates. We know this to be true. We are not mice, we are men. Living in less than Earth gravity for long periods can only have one result- less fitness and difficulty returning to Earth gravity.

          Building artificial worlds with 1G is not much more difficult than living on Mars. This was the conclusion of Gerard K. O’Neill in the 1970’s and nothing has changed. Well, one thing has; we now know all the physiological problems caused by microgravity and this only supports his conclusion.

          • A microgravity environment– is not the same– as a low gravity environment.

            Since no one has ever stayed on the surface of the Moon or Mars for even a week– we simply do not know if it deleterious.

            The gravity on the Moon or Mars could be harmful or it might not be harmful. We simply don’t know!

            And we also don’t know if strenuous exercise could alleviate any problems associated with a low gravity environment. But we do need to find out!

            And NASA should have found out if a low gravity environment was deleterious to humans on the lunar surface– decades ago.


          • billgamesh says:

            “A microgravity environment– is not the same– as a low gravity environment. ”

            Again, I am sorry Marcel but….it-is-a-lower-gravity-environment-and-will-be-deleterious.

            Humans thrive in 1G and near sea level radiation and air pressure and deviating from that standard will be problematic. Living on Mars or any other body in the solar system would be a bad deal.

            Living on a Bernal Sphere in orbit around the sun leading or trailing Earth would allow easy travel from one sphere to another and back home- to Earth.

            Zubrin and then Musk garnered support from emoting sci-fi fans with very little understanding of the actual reality of what it takes for an independent population to survive independent of Earth. It is a scam.

      • James says:

        Yep: “Thanks Dr. Spudis for continuing to educate our politicians and the young generation about the critical strategic and economic importance of our closest neighbor in space!”


        “An analysis of radiation safety issues on lunar lava tubes has been performed by considering radiation from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and Solar Particle Events (SPE) interacting with the lunar surface, modeled as a regolith layer and rock. The chemical composition has been chosen as typical of the lunar regions where the largest number of lava tube candidates are found.”

        And, “No significant differences in the results have been observed between the Lunar Night and the Lunar Day scenarios. After 6 m of depth, no effects of radiation due to or induced by GCRs are observable in the simulation, and after far less than 1 m no effects of radiation due to or induced by SPE particles are observable. Natural and induced radioactivity seems not to play a significant role in the lava tube exposures.”

        From: ‘Lunar Lava Tube Radiation Safety Analysis’ By GIOVANNI DE ANGELIS, J. W. WILSON, M. S. CLOWDSLEY, J. E. NEALY, D. H. HUMES, and J. M. CLEM 2002

        Protection from galactic cosmic rays will normally be a critical issue for spacefaring folks. Massive amounts of shielding of various types could be used.

        And, if building large rotating structures to provide artificial gravity in space is a useful and workable engineering solution, then running high speed trains in one mile diameter circles is also quite doable and useful for some of the many places in our Solar System that lack near Earth like gravity.

        Venus might eventually be terraformed, but that could take several centuries…

        In the meantime, and for most places in our Solar System, circling or rotating artificial gravity machines of various sizes and types are possible and likely to be built.

        “‘The Roads Must Roll’ is a 1940 science fiction short story by American writer Robert A. Heinlein. It was selected for The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964 anthology in 1970.[1]

        The story is set in the near future, when ‘roadtowns’ (wide rapidly moving passenger platforms similar to moving sidewalks, but reaching speeds of 100 mph) have replaced highways and railways as the dominant transportation method in the United States.”

        From: ‘The Roads Must Roll’ Wikipedia

        Could such a moving ‘roadtown’ be built and run in a one mile diameter circle? Sure it could. Is it an optimal artificial gravity engineering solution for some future off-world situations? Maybe.

        Large rotating O’Neill Cylinders and structures like the Stanford Torus can produce artificial gravity and could be quite useful across our Solar System. However, other types of rotating, or circling, structures or machines may also have useful artificial gravity capabilities for keeping spacefaring humans healthy, happy, and productive.

  5. Grand Lunar says:

    My favorite portion was your summery in the last paragraph, concluding with “…when shown the value of such an endeavor and how it contributes to our long-term posture in space and on Earth, they get it.”

    It is also encouraging to know how receptive the students were to your presentation.
    In this, there is a glimmer of hope.

    This is what NASA ought to hear. We want the Moon.

    • James says:

      Yep, as you noted, “We want the Moon.”

      And NASA’s leadership knows why.

      However, real and essential leadership by NASA’s leaders and employees involves carefully and repeatedly explaining the logical, economic, security, and scientific ‘why’ to the many individuals, including Presidents and folks in Congress, that don’t understand ‘why’ the Moon’s resources are critical to reducing the high risks and costs of our growing spacefaring capabilities and accelerating the industrialization and development of the Moon and the rest of Cislunar Space and eventually all of our Solar System.

      “Gerstenmaier was open to including lunar missions in the Deep Space Gateway architecture, whether with landers from NASA or from partners. That could include accessing lunar resources like water ice which, if easily accessible, could “radially change” human exploration plans, he said.”

      From: ‘The moon is the gateway to NASA’s exploration future’ By Jeff Foust May 2, 2017

      “While he wasn’t on the panel that got the question about lunar exploration, ESA director general Jan Wörner did put in a plug later in the session for his ‘Moon Village’ concept of an international lunar base, which he said was essential before humans could go to Mars.

      “‘We think that the Moon is a very important step. Mars is not the ultimate goal; humans will go further than Mars,’ he said. The Moon, he added, offered ‘special opportunities’ for developing new technologies, including the production and assembly of hardware as well as a source of resources.”

      From: ‘International and commercial interest in the Moon’ By Jeff Foust 4/24/2017

      ESA director general Jan Wörner is doing what he can to educate folks. NASA needs to strongly support him in his work of educating the world about the value of Lunar resources and opportunities.

      And all of us need to find wise ways to strongly support Lunar resources educational work and “‘radially change’ human exploration plans”.

      • billgamesh says:

        “Mars is not the ultimate goal; humans will go further than Mars,’ he said.”

        I predict the Moon will facilitate developing nuclear propelled spaceships which will lead to bypassing Mars completely in favor of Ceres and then the ocean moons of the gas giants.

        • James says:

          Mining Ceres and Vesta could be quite useful.

          “One benefit: Space colonies would be immune to Earthly natural disasters. ‘In the colonies there would be no earthquakes, no hurricanes, no tsunamis, no volcanoes,’ Stone says. ‘Plus, you pretty much control the weather in an O’Neill cylinder.’”

          And, “As O’Neill wrote in Physics Today in 1974: ‘I believe we have now reached the point where we can, if we so choose, build new habitats far more comfortable, productive and attractive than is most of Earth.’”

          From: ‘How We Could Actually Build a Space Colony’
          By Adam Hadhazy 10/2/2014

          Mining Mars to build O’Neill Cylinders and structures like the Stanford Torus might be doable, but mining the Moon, Vesta, and Ceres seems to be easier and more useful in the near future.

          During this century far more billionaires would most likely prefer the convenience of vacationing or living in an O’Neill Cylinder in a high Home Planet orbit or a high Lunar orbit than they would vacationing or living in an O’Neill Cylinder orbiting the far distant, cold, inhospitable, and inconvenient Red Planet.

          Time will tell.

          Currently, Orion spaceships powered by Nuclear Pulse Propulsion systems of various types seem workable and needed for reducing the risks, costs, and flight times for missions beyond Cislunar Space.

          And while large and reusable pressure fed boosters would be useful and are needed, I expect SRBs may have useful ongoing roles not only for launches from the Home Planet, but also for launching large amounts of material from the Moon.


          Because aluminum and oxygen are abundant on the Moon and could be used in solid propellants for large rocket sleds that could safely launch both humans and cargo to Lunar escape velocity.

          Fourteen years ago a solid rocket powered sled set a 6,416 mph or 10,325 km hour or 2.868 km/second speed record on the Home Planet.

          Escape velocity from Earth is 11.186 km/second.

          Escape velocity from Mars is 5.027 km/second.

          Escape velocity from the Moon is only 2.38 km/second.

          Escape velocity from Ceres is only 0.51 km/second.

          Escape velocity from Vesta is only 0.36 km/second.

          Various types of electromagnetic launch systems could also be useful on the Moon and elsewhere.

          Diverse redundancy in our space transportation and other systems is useful and avoids the issues of narrow and over specialized mono-systems that are prone to catastrophic failure modes that could collapse our options to only living on Earth.

          Humans have the strength offered by the wide diversity in their capabilities, interests, economies, and engineering solutions to various problems. If we are wise, we will maintain that diversity and avoid the dangerous illusion of dogmatic perfection as we move out to live across our Solar System.

          • billgamesh says:

            “-mining the Moon, Vesta, and Ceres seems to be easier and more useful in the near future.”

            Actually, the Moon is the place to “mine” for a century to come at least. I don’t know how many Bernal Spheres, each one several miles in diameter, could be built before some kind of problem with stealing material from the Moon would develop. Thousands or a couple of orders of magnitude more depending on how big the Spheres are.

            The logical end of O’Neill’s colonization concept was a string of thousands of (or more) Bernal spheres trailing and leading Earth in orbit around the sun until the entire human race lived in space and the Earth was a place to visit on vacation.

            Calling them “Orion Spaceships” is not really an accurate or even a good thing to do. Project Orion ended long ago and many are quick to ridicule it and associate bizarre impracticality with that name. I prefer “bomb propelled” simply because it is blunt and honest and will lead to acceptance of the concept that much sooner.

            As for SRB’s…..truly humongous monolithic boosters were test fired in the 60’s and such monsters could lift mind boggling payloads off of the Moon. But with lunar factories manufacturing alloy plates as Nuclear Pulse Propulsion engines any chemical rocket would be uneconomical compared to bomb propulsion. Breeder reactors on a “Nuclear Moon” would provide bomb grade material for centuries until a superior system (perhaps black hole starships) is devised.

  6. James says:


    ““Dear colleagues We want to invite you to participate and submit abstracts for European Planetary Science Congress 2017 17–22 September 2017 in Riga, Latvia The intention of the European Planetary Science Congress 2017 is to cover a broad area of science topics related to planetary science and planetary missions.”

    And, “The Moon Village is an open concept proposed by ESA DG with the goal of a sustainable human and robotic presence on the lunar surface as an ensemble where multiple users can carry out multiple activities. – Multiple goals of the Moon Village include planetary science, life sciences, astronomy, fundamental research, resources utilisation, human spaceflight, peaceful cooperation, economical development, inspiration, training and capacity building. Lunar science and exploration are developing further with new and exciting missions being developed by China, the US, Japan, India, Russia, Korea and Europe, and with new stakeholders.”

    From: ‘Moon Village and ILD at the EPSC2017’

  7. billgamesh says:

    “To do this we must build a permanent, space-based transportation system fueled by propellant made from lunar polar ice.”

    In my view the critical misstep was adopting the SRB instead of the pressure-fed booster for the shuttle. That, and of course not building a cargo version. It is still the missing piece of the puzzle and Musk and Bezos both failed the genius test by not building it. To get to a space-based transportation system we have to get up there first so I would say a reusable pressure-fed needs to be developed to replace the SRB’s on the SLS. If we do, everything that follows will be much easier.

    A couple years ago I read the study linked below and on page 23 I found a graphic that I believe should be widely and often used to explain why the Moon should be the primary focus of space exploration.

    Figure 10 on page 23 shows the “energy depth” of the different places space advocates are always talking about and looking at the difference between GEO and the lunar surface tells the whole story. It was a revelation to me anyway.

    In terms of our civilization, where money is what matters, “space” is GEO where the over 100 billion dollars a year in revenue is generated by the telecom industry. If we want to put humans to work in space then sending them there is the logical path. The radiation environment in GEO requires massive shielding. This shield would not only protect humans, but electronics as well.
    Water, being the most utilitarian choice, is available from lunar ice.

  8. billgamesh says:

    “-as in seafaring, the new spacefarers require different vehicles and the supporting ports and re-fueling stations to permit this mode of travel.”

    This “analogy of spaceflight to seafaring” has never impressed me, nor do many analogies concerning space seem to be very applicable. Space is different than anything on Earth. However….

    In my view astronauts will have to wrap themselves in a 15 foot deep “ocean” of water for any long duration missions Beyond Low Earth Orbit (BLEO). There is great resistance to this stipulation, and even outrage and shocked denial. But cosmic radiation is what it is.

    Concerning re-fueling stations inside the Earth’s magnetosphere, in the “cislunar sea” between the Earth and the Moon, chemical propulsion is the only option. However, Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (BELO) the opposite holds true as chemical propulsion is useless. To push the required massive water shield there is really only one option: Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (H-bombs). This also inspires outrage and shocked denial when put forward as “the inflexible path.” But there is certainly plenty of bomb grade fissionable material available and so- it is what it is.

    Lunar water is the stock to make fuel for chemical propulsion, and as I have related in past comments, using the volatiles trapped in lunar ice, methane might be a better choice than hydrogen. Water is also the fuel, all by itself, for use in pulse propulsion. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a specially designed bomb directing most of the energy in one direction converts a “slug” of material (or water) into a cloud of plasma which then pushes the plate or sail of the spaceship.

    The idea of dosing and debilitating astronauts on long “chemical missions” distresses me and does have a nautical analogy as in trying to paddle a tree bark canoe across the North Atlantic. In my view only nuclear energy can take humans to the outer solar system. The first pulse propelled spaceships, because it may take decades before alloy plates of the necessary size are available in space, may resort to the Medusa spinnaker type of “soft” system. This “sail” actually does connect with the spaceflight to seafaring analogy.

  9. James says:

    Educational efforts about Lunar resources and opportunities need to be inclusive of everyone on the Home Planet.

    Older folks can voice their political views quite effectively to government leaders. Older individuals often fully understand wise investments because of their own hard gained personal experiences. Our elders should not and cannot be ignored.

    A population projection I looked at a few decades ago suggested that the USA could end up with the largest population of any nation on our planet.

    However, lately I have started to doubt all population projections. Human lifespan extending technological changes are often difficult to fully evaluate and no one seems to be capable of estimating how many AI android folks are likely to be built each year.


    “Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have uncovered one of the key mechanisms that gradually weakens our body’s ability to repair DNA, and tests were able to restore the cell function of old mice to that of their younger counterparts. The team says an anti-aging drug could be developed in the next few years, and the treatment also shows promise in reversing DNA damage caused by radiation exposure – good news for cancer battlers or space travelers.”

    From: ‘DNA-repairing drug could fight aging and radiation damage’
    By Michael Irving March 23, 2017

    As our Home Planet starts to look seriously crowded, then extensively mining and industrializing the Moon and making full use of Cislunar Space to reduce pollution on Earth may begin to look like a politically and environmentally smart path to most folks.

    Building lots of O’Neill Cylinders and other super sized habitats in Cislunar Space and putting them in orbits around the Moon, Vesta, Ceres, Mars, Neptune, and other large masses of rock and ice in space could seem both doable and useful to many folks on the Home Planet.

    And as a practical security matter for our ever more crowded Earth, the increasing number of humans and AI android folks we have living off our Home Planet means our ability of seeing and the diverting or destroying large incoming NEOs should continue to improve.

    Individuals and families of both youngsters and old folks and everyone of in between ages will eventually become more willing to invest in terraforming the Moon and eventually Mars and Venus.

    Will all the spacefaring individuals or families want to live their whole lives on the Moon, or Mercury, or an asteroid, or in some type of enormous space habitat?

    Probably not.

    Many or maybe even most spacefaring folks will want to wander.

    Economical mobility across deep space, like economical mobility on Earth, can greatly enlarge each individual’s and family’s perspective about what is doable, useful, and exciting in our Solar System.

    Slowly but surely, more and more individuals and families and groups will travel to and live and work on the Moon for many diverse reasons and similarly some of those folks may also eventually spend decades working and living in an O’Neill Cylinder, or on Mercury, Mars, Ceres, Vesta, or Pluto due to various reasons, hopes, or dreams.

    Efficient and safe future space transportation systems and long lives mean that individuals and families and groups of folks could decide to wander across our Solar System for many decades.

    As a practical near-term matter, we will probably be mostly busy with the Moon and developing Cislunar Space for quite a few decades.

    Nonetheless, if we want to avoid having our Home Planet’s space policies from being repeatedly hijacked by some folks with a strange and limited ‘Mars is the answer’ tunnel vision, we had best keep reminding ourselves and everyone else what was noted by Jan Wörner:

    “We think that the Moon is a very important step. Mars is not the ultimate goal; humans will go further than Mars.”

  10. billgamesh says:

    “We stopped going to the Moon for a very simple reason – after you win a battle, you don’t keep fighting it. We beat the Soviets to the Moon – the reason for Apollo’s existence. It required a significant fraction of the national wealth to pull off the Moon landing (at peak, almost 7% of the federal budget was spent on Apollo) along with the personal commitment of thousands of engineers and technicians across America, many of whom destroyed their marriages working double hours and weekends to meet tight deadlines.”

    Perfectly stated. But most people don’t get it. Most people have never been employed in a giant highly technical project. The NewSpace movement and it’s libertarian ideology is proof of that.

    In my view we need to spend 7% on space again because it holds the key to the future of humankind. Nobody can deny we are slowly consuming the natural resources of this planet and decimating the number of species in our ecosystem. Consider Earth as just a larger Easter Island. It is popular to dismiss such “70’s hippie tree-hugging” with examples of failed predictions of doom and gloom. But I see megafauna on land and life in the ocean diminishing. That is the warning flag. The population continues to climb with sub-Saharan Africans on track to become the most populous ethnic group in the history of the human race. Gerard K. O’Neill understood that space was the place to go for unlimited lebensraum.

    Space Solar Energy can be had exactly the way Dr. Spudis’ describes- in incremental steps. In my view those steps begin with humans-in-GEO telecom industry and the nuclear deterrent relocated to space, and then with factories on the Moon making pulse engines that can lift immense solar power stations from the lunar surface. It might take close to a century but once it is done…..we will be on our way. Those solar power stations in GEO can also power beam propelled launch vehicles and effect the holy grail of single stage to orbit airliners to space. Then we will be on our way to ever greater accomplishments.

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