Congress, NASA

Another bid for an extra billion for NASA

In his speech Thursday, Griffin said that with “the budgetary resources currently projected during the critical development years of 2009 and 2010, we can reasonably forecast the Orion and Ares systems coming online by early 2015.” Griffin isn’t happy with that timeline, but said that “it would be far worse if I were to over-promise or fail to provide my most credible, realistic assessment to our stakeholders in the Congress.”

However, the Houston Chronicle reports that agency supporters in Congress will make another effort this year to increase NASA’s budget to speed up the Constellation development schedule. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) plan to work together to add $2 billion to NASA’s budget over the next two years to allow Ares and Orion to enter service in September 2013. Hutchison reiterated past arguments that an extended gap between shuttle and Orion “is a security threat to our country,” adding, “I just hope we don’t have to wait for a crisis.”

Hutchison said that she would again with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to get the funding approved in the Senate. However, the bigger challenge would appear to be in the House, which did not approve any extra money in the FY08 budget and failed to accept the Senate’s extra billion in conference. “Lampson said he’s counting on a growing bipartisan sentiment in the House to assist NASA,” the Chronicle reported, without elaborating on extent and growth of that sentiment.

28 comments to Another bid for an extra billion for NASA

  • “Griffin said that with ‘the budgetary resources currently projected during the critical development years of 2009 and 2010, we can reasonably forecast the Orion and Ares systems coming online by early 2015.’”

    Unless he’s totally out of touch with the program and budget, I don’t understand why Griffin is reiterating this projection at this time. The omnibus bill ate almost $200 million in Constellation carryover, and given how the program is so precariously budgeted, that’s going to impact the Ares I/Orion schedule. Staff have not had a chance to rework the schedule, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to slip.

    “Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) plan to work together to add $2 billion to NASA’s budget over the next two years to allow Ares and Orion to enter service in September 2013.”

    Even if it actually gets spent in Constellation, $2 billion is inadequate to bring Ares I/Orion back to 2013. According to the FY 2008 budget request, these projects will be at a run-rate of $2.5 billion per year in 2012 alone. The 2013-15 tail for these projects is going to be considerably bigger than $2 billion.

    “Hutchison said that she would again with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to get the funding approved in the Senate.”

    If Mikulski really cared, she would have fought back with the House to get the funding approved in the omnibus this year.

    “‘Lampson said he’s counting on a growing bipartisan sentiment in the House to assist NASA,’ the Chronicle reported, without elaborating on extent and growth of that sentiment.”

    So far, this effort has only gone through the motions, providing a show of support for certain Congressmen to their NASA voters back home but taking few actions necessary to secure real support. It remains to be whether any serious lobbying plans or efforts emerge in the coming year.

    FWIW…

  • Charles in Houston

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Hutchison would stop justifying the civilian space program by saying it is important to “security”?

    The military budget dwarfs (don’t you just love being able to work words like that into a conversation?) the civilian budget, and the military programs are the ones that ensure security – the way I define security.

    It will be unfortunate when we cannot independently launch people into space, and we rely on Russia to allow us to launch people to the Space Station. But that has no relationship to “security”.

    But it was great to have a bipartisan show of support for the civilian space program – both a Republican Senator and a Democratic Representative.

    Good luck to them in efforts to add some money to the budget – hopefully it would be targeted to needy programs and would not just be evenly distributed among all programs. Hopefully they will also find a way to not make it additional deficit spending. We remain skeptical.

    Charles

  • “Wouldn’t it be nice if Hutchison would stop justifying the civilian space program by saying it is important to “security”?”

    Good point. The “gap” may be a threat to sustained ISS operations, but it unclear how it could ever pose a “security threat to our country”. It boggles the mind to try to imagine what potential national security “crisis” Hutchison has in mind (if any) when making her statement.

    FWIW…

  • Charles: I totally disagree with your outlook here, and Anonymous, you should know better than to agree with it. The United States defines freedom of the oceans for commerce as essential to our security. Over time, the same will increasingly be true of space. From another perspective, to pay for military security — especially since we’ve been wasting it so freely of late — we need to have commerce. Commerce is an essential part of security, and over the long term it is more important that military security since it enables the latter (which does unfortunately become of overwhelming importance at certain points in time).

    If a commercial future in the Solar System is to be had, it is vital to the United States’ security that we be part of it. Hutchison, et al, may be approaching this for parochial reasons, but that does not mean they are not correct.

    – Donald

  • Aremis Asling

    “Commerce is an essential part of security”

    I don’t really see the Moon and Mars programs having a whole lot to do with commerce. Yes, the industry could benefit from this and it would improve job outlooks on the Florida coast and in Houston, but I hardly imagine the multiple billions of dollars spent on this program will provide even close to the commercial return that countless other investments might. To once again tap a cliche ‘How do you make a small fortune in the rocket industry? Start with a large fortune.’

    Manned planetary exploration is, until space programs really crank out some sort of commercial proposal, largely done for exploration’s sake. Investments in just about every other option available for building commerce or protecting the nation would generate far better returns.

    Unmanned satellite launches have provided tremendous returns, but that’s not what’s at issue here.

    Aremis

  • Aremis: don’t really see the Moon and Mars programs having a whole lot to do with commerce.

    You are, of course, correct, especially in the latter case — at this point in time. But, recall that fifty years ago you could have said exactly the same thing about geostationary orbit and the orbit the GPS satellites are in. However, these two high-delta-V destinations are now not just desirable, but critical, to both commerce and military security. Had you suggested that might be the case at dawn of the space age, you would have been laughed out of court.

    Fifty years from now, the moon will be just important, I believe, because it will be the source of much of the oxygen used in cis-lunar space — for breathing, for water, for propulsion oxidizer, etc. As I argued in another thread, it is the partially perceived promise of a commercial future in the Solar System that drives our willingness to “waste” vast sums of money on things like the Space Station and the VSE.

    – Donald

  • Charles in Houston

    Colleagues -

    Return with me, again, to the apparent intent of Jeff’s posting. Members of Congress plan to work together to allow people on Ares/Constellation to fly closer to 2013 rather than 2015 (or more likely, 2020!!).

    They offer opinions about why the American public should pay attention. Senator Hutchison again states that the justification is “security”. By inference – National Security.

    If we continue to state that, it will be simple for the chattering classes in journalism to wake up and ask what are all of those BILLIONS being spent on the military space program going for? Military satellites that collect intelligence, relay communications, and improve navigation. Not a one of those depends on any NASA program, or any NASA funding.

    If we get started with that justification we are vulnerable to having to change our argument (looking like we don’t know why we want the manned spaceflight program to exist).

    Don Robertson states: “Charles: I totally disagree with your outlook here, and Anonymous, you should know better than to agree with it. The United States defines freedom of the oceans for commerce as essential to our security. Over time, the same will increasingly be true of space. From another perspective, to pay for military security — especially since we’ve been wasting it so freely of late — we need to have commerce. Commerce is an essential part of security…” In a later reply, after some dubious connections between means and ends, he mentions the oxygen mined on the moon in fifty years. The collective sound of people’s eyes all over the world rolling was deafening.

    We need to not stare at individual leaves, but step back and observe the forest. Manned access to space by the US cannot be justified by National Security – the military already spends a LOT more on space and access to space than the manned program. Saying that we need to be able to launch people into space in 2014 to ensure security is a silly statement.

    We also can’t justify manned acccess to space to “ensure” we have access to lunar oxygen (or anything else) in ten year or twenty years and certainly not in fifty years. No wonder people yawn when we talk about space – they think we are all space cadets who want to mine Helium 3 on asteroids. Just because it would be neat to do.

    The US space program is primarily a military space program, with manned space along for the ride. We need to be able to articulate why the manned space program is valuable and not present arguments that can easily be shown to be silly.

    Otherwise, there is going to be no additional two billion or two million or even two dollars.

    Charles

  • canttellya

    “Lampson said he’s counting on a growing bipartisan sentiment in the House to assist NASA,” the Chronicle reported, without elaborating on extent and growth of that sentiment.

    The best thing that the House could do to “assist” NASA is to petition the White House to relieve them of their present administration. The House should then follow that action by relieving NASA of any need to continue government-funded human spaceflight beyond the last flight of the Shuttle. JSC, KSC, Stennis and Marshall can all be shut down and NASA can then be directed to pursue robotic exploration, robotic exploitation of valuable minerals on the Moon and asteroids, and robotic planetary defense activities. None of these activities require human presence, only humans in the loop.

    Burt Rutan can fly people who want to go into space.

  • “Charles: I totally disagree with your outlook here, and Anonymous, you should know better than to agree with it. The United States defines freedom of the oceans for commerce as essential to our security. Over time, the same will increasingly be true of space.”

    I don’t disagree that freedom of human space access may be an important national security issue someday in the far future. I can’t argue with a multiplicity of potential, long-term futures, any of which might come true.

    But human space flight has no bearing on national security today, nor will it have any bearing on national security during the gap in the first half of the next decade.

    Hutchison & Co. are arguing that a specific, near-term gap in U.S. human space flight at the beginning of the next decade has security implications. Whether we agree with that specific human space flight argument or not, we should not confuse or conflate human space access with U.S. national security or commercial space access, neither of which involves human space flight. Nor should we confuse or conflate an argument about human space access in the first half of the next decade with a potential and unknowable human space access future that is decades away.

    [quote]
    If a commercial future in the Solar System is to be had, it is vital to the United States’ security that we be part of it.
    [/quote]

    I don’t disagree with your logic, but that’s not Hutchison’s argument. Hutchison is arguing that not having a domestic civil human space capability the 2011-2015 timeframe exposes the United States to a “security threat” or potential “crisis”. And that’s just pure bunk.

    FWIW…

  • Dave Salt

    Donald said: “Fifty years from now, the moon will be just important, I believe, because it will be the source of much of the oxygen used in cis-lunar space — for breathing, for water, for propulsion oxidizer, etc.”

    Of course, if we ever manage to develop closed life-support systems and high performance nuclear propulsion (i.e. Isp > 4000s) there will be little, if any, need for a Lunar filling station!

    Moreover, if we ever get to the point where we’re a truly space-faring civilization (i.e. where a substantial part of the economy is generated by off-Earth facilities and/or resources) it will mean that the specific price to orbit ($/kg) will have been reduced by several orders of magnitude simply because of the increased traffic volume. A factor that will reduce significantly the perceived advantage of Lunar resources.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the Moon may not be the key to opening up the solar system, which is what you’re basically implying. As such, it has less relevance to US national security as Antarctica – probably much less – and should be regarded thus when it formulating government policy.

  • Al Fansome

    Donald,

    I find myself in agreement with Charles & Anonymous, and disagreeing with you.

    Let me elaborate in that your statement about security secure the lanes of commerce is fine in the LONG term, but in the context that Sen. Hutchison means — that we should throw billions at the Ares 1 + Orion — it is a waste of money.

    If our nation really wanted “national security” then we should evaluate the alternatives on their “national security” impact. One of the clear alternatives for NASA to invest in is “reusable launch vehicles”.

    I assert that — on the issue of national security — reusable launch vehicles would trump the Scotty Rocket + capsule every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

    So, please don’t play into the hands of Mike Griffin (and Senator Hutchison) when they talk about national security as a justification. They don’t care about national security. If they did, they would change their strategy, and stop trying to sell their unaffordable approach to human access to space.

    - Al

  • Anonymous: Nor should we confuse or conflate an argument about human space access in the first half of the next decade with a potential and unknowable human space access future that is decades away.

    But, these are connected. It is much easier to continue human access to space than it is to re-start it once you have given it up. Put another way, it’s easier to jump-start a commercial human launch industry if you have an existing market for them to go to, i.e., the Space Station (or an eventual private equivalent), than it is to start from scratch with no market. Historically, the many efforts at commercial launch vehicles went nowhere until the Space Station existed. With the station, we have at least one effort that looks like it has a political and maybe economic chance (SpaceX), and several serious efforts in the wings. Likewise, a lunar oxygen economy has no chance unless it has markets, and the near-term markets for oxygen are any infrastructure on the lunar surface and in LEO, and potentially in GEO. Unless you have infrastructure in LEO and on the lunar surface, you will get nowhere with establishing early mining economies and the beginnings of trade.

    Dave Salt: the key words in your post are “may not be.” We don’t know today what they key to the Solar System will be, if there is one. However, it’s probably a good idea to learn to walk before you try to soar. Anything we learn on the moon will not be wasted since its regolith-dominated surface is a common type of environment in the inner Solar System. More importantly, operations on the moon may well have bearing on the development of truly closed life support systems and high delta-V propulsion (of whatever type), and even reductions in the price of cis-lunar transportation.

    The point is, I think that learning to operate in the inner Solar System will be harder, and take longer, than any of us want to believe today. If so, doing relatively easy tasks (establishing a base on the moon) should be our highest priority, even if all these nice-to-haves pan out — because we just might have to do things the hard way.

    – Donald

  • “Put another way, it’s easier to jump-start a commercial human launch industry if you have an existing market for them to go to, i.e., the Space Station”

    But the post-Shuttle gap doesn’t eliminate or reduce the ISS market. It actually makes the ISS market bigger. In the absence of Space Shuttle, NASA has a greater need for new domestic means (commercial or otherwise) of ISS transport.

    If commercial space activity is the name of our game, then we should argue that any civil solution to the U.S. human space flight “gap” be deferred as long as possible, maybe indefinitely (i.e., slow down or eliminate Ares I/Orion funding) and that as many resources as possible be redirected to commercial solutions to the U.S. human space flight “gap” (e.g., redirect funding to COTS).

    That would be in opposition to Hutchison, of course. She’s only arguing for funding for the civil solution, actually the specific Ares I/Orion solution, because that’s what saves the maximum number of Shuttle jobs in Texas.

    “Likewise, a lunar oxygen economy has no chance unless it has markets, and the near-term markets for oxygen are any infrastructure on the lunar surface and in LEO, and potentially in GEO.”

    I don’t disagree with the logic, but I still don’t see the relevance of lunar oxygen economies that are at least a couple decades out to a discussion about a gap in U.S. human space flight access to ISS (or LEO) in the 2010-15 timeframe. If anything, getting off the very expensive and time-consuming Ares I/Orion solution to the gap will free up resources to pursue the lunar future you’re interested in. Pouring a couple billion more dollars into Ares I/Orion budgets will not free up or add resources for Constellation’s lunar elements — the Ares V/EDS/LSAM budgets will still be the same.

    FWIW…

  • Dave Salt

    Donald said:”Historically, the many efforts at commercial launch vehicles went nowhere until the Space Station existed.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that the commercial launch industry was born out of the ISS programme? I can only think that you mean commercial human spaceflight.

    I’m also a little bit puzzled as to why you think Lunar oxygen is a fundamental pre-requisite to the future commercial exploitation of space. For example, I certainly don’t see mention of this in Mr Bigelow’s business case for LEO business parks.

    Look, the ISS and VSE/ESAS represent an opportunity to boost commercial space activities not because of the things they aim to do or places they’ll go to but simply because they represent HUGE spending commitments and nothing more – they’re just big troughs that “commercial” companies can feed from.

    The bottom line is that while the Moon may certainly have a role in our future, there are numerous scenarios that could essentially by-pass it. This means that it’s simply a waste of time trying to use it as the basis for any current space policy, let alone a national security policy!

  • Charles in Houston

    Fellow Inhabitants Of Earth (Sigh) -

    Jeff’s article is (partly?) about various justifications for assured access by American representatives to space. This does not include tourists that represent themselves by the way.

    What should our elected leaders say is the justification? Senator Hutchison offers “security” and I feel that is not a credible argument.

    Not that I wish to pluck too much low hanging fruit, but others offer different justifications.

    Donald Robertson says: “Historically, the many efforts at commercial launch vehicles went nowhere until the Space Station existed.” This is a pretty incredible statement, commercial launch vehicles sort of started with Ariane in about 1980 or so. I recall tracking that launch in the Air Force spacetrack system. After the Challenger accident, the many commercial payloads were offloaded from Shuttle over to the reliable ELV fleet that we had flown for years. The US commercial space lift industry has had a bumpy road but has been putting commercial spacecraft in orbit since well before the first Station component was delivered to KSC. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union the Russians have been offering commercial space boosters. The Chinese have similarly been offering access to space for commercial payloads. So there is no connection at all between the Station and commercial launch industry (unfortunately).

    If we wish to convince the American public to support the ability of America to launch people into space, we need to do some basic reading and educate ourselves about what the space industry does. They put communications satellites into geosynchronous orbit, and a few other things.

    To justify the ability of America to send people into orbit we need to talk about the existing Space Station and that we can do useful basic research on it. That is, if we can get there.

    It is not going to help to talk to “regular people” about the lunar oxygen economy.

    Charles

  • Dave Salt: The bottom line is that while the Moon may certainly have a role in our future, there are numerous scenarios that could essentially by-pass it. This means that it’s simply a waste of time trying to use it as the basis for any current space policy, let alone a national security policy!

    I don’t disagree with your first sentence, but the second one in no way follows from it. Just because we cannot prove that the moon is “the key,” as you put it, does not mean that it may not be, or is not likely to be, important. As a source for raw material that is always nearby and relatively easy to get to, I think we are a lot safer assuming that it will be important than assuming that the best economic strategy is to bypass it.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the commercial launch industry was born out of the ISS programme? I can only think that you mean commercial human spaceflight.

    Yes, and yes. While government launchers have been commercialized for the one of the other existing markets (GEO), the many attempts to develop clean sheet entreprenurial commercial launch vehicles for LEO have gone essentially nowhere. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) The entreprenurial launch industry does not yet exist, but if it ever does, it’s most likely early markets are, respectively, the Space Station, the military, and tourism. The third market got its start on the first one. So, yes, as I see it, the Space Station’s existance has already proven critical to any chance of success for any entreprenurial launch industry, especially a human one.

    – Donald

  • Oh, yes, Dave Salt: I’m also a little bit puzzled as to why you think Lunar oxygen is a fundamental pre-requisite to the future commercial exploitation of space.

    Read “The Oxygen Road” on my Web site. My degree is in archaeology, and with that background, I see the establishment of a trading economy is “the key” to creating a true spacefaring civilization. That has to start somewhere. Oxygen has a potential market — it is critical to whatever you do in space — and a source — the moon (and the Martian moons and nearby asteroids). Thus, if you are going to start a the earliest beginnings of a trading economy, oxygen is the obvious place to start.

    In a wider sense, I think what the space community sorely lacks is people looking at what has worked in the past and thinking about how to get from where we are, with the equipment and money and politics we have, to where we want to be. We have lots of people thinking about technology, and how, given perfect technology or economics or politics, we might bypass steps and create the perfect activities in space. Well, the perfect is the enemy of good enough, and we have too few thinking about what might motivate some group of people to act in a way that would get us a step toward a spacefaring civilization. I believe an oxygen trade, if it can be made to work, is potentially the key toward achieving that goal. In the absense of an oxygen trade, we need something else, and, as many cynics here and elsewhere have pointed out, nothing comes to mind. I’d love to hear your ideas.

    – Donald

  • Charles: This is a pretty incredible statement, commercial launch vehicles sort of started with Ariane in about 1980

    Granted, I over-stated my case here, but see my response to Dave Salt.

    It is not going to help to talk to “regular people” about the lunar oxygen economy.

    Actually, I think you are wrong here. I think most regular people can identify with trade of a commodity and its historic role in motivating new frontiers in the past, than they can abstract markets even if they already exist (e.g., the “trade” in communications and navigation and observation that are the current market for commercial launch vehicles).

    – Donald

  • Dave Salt

    Donald said: “While government launchers have been commercialized for the one of the other existing markets (GEO), the many attempts to develop clean sheet entreprenurial commercial launch vehicles for LEO have gone essentially nowhere. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)”

    Though this is drifting off-topic somewhat, it’s worth remembering that Elon Musk established SpaceX well before COTS and was clearly aiming to service the GEO comsat market. Moreover, the slew of entrepreneurial ventures that arose in the mid-1990′s was in direct response to proposals for LEO constellations (primarily Teledesic). Had any of them succeeded, they would very likely have put us very close to or even beyond the point where reduced launch costs and more responsive manifesting would have closed the business case for a quite a few new space-based commercial venture like space business parks.

    So, although the ISS and VSE/ESAS could serve to stimulate the development of space-based commerce by increasing the launch market, they certainly aren’t unique and so should not be seen as the principal rationale for future commercial space policy.

  • Dave Salt: The key points are that the constellations did not succeed, and are not there as markets, so we cannot use them today.

    The Space Station is there, right now today, so we should use that as our current market to try and get started with entreprenurial launch vehicle development. The station is also a larger market, or will be one the Shuttle program is ended, than any of the other likely markets in the near term, or all of them collectively. It is a new and growing market, as opposed to the existing LEO and GEO markets, which are static. It makes no sense at all to ignore the existing Space Station market for something that may (or may not) exist in the future.

    We need what does exist, rather than what should exist or we’d like to exist in an ideal world.

    – Donald

  • Dave Salt

    Donald said: “Oxygen has a potential market — it is critical to whatever you do in space”

    Okay, this is really off-topic, so I’ll make this my last reply in this thread.

    Unless you seriously believe we’re stuck with open-loop life support and, more significantly, are condemned to using chemical rockets as our main means of propulsion, I really cannot see how you can justify this statement.

    “In the absense of an oxygen trade, we need something else, and, as many cynics here and elsewhere have pointed out, nothing comes to mind. I’d love to hear your ideas.”

    I really have no idea what the killer app. will be that gets us out there and actually believe there should not be one, since it’s too much like putting all our eggs in one basket. What I’d like to see is a an environment where LOTS of different ventures are being pursued and let market forces select the best in a Darwinian manner. This would translate to a space policy that focuses on basic infrastructure and technology development – as opposed to specific goals like a return to the Moon – and pushes NASA towards being a customer rather than a supplier of services, especially launches.

  • Dave Salt

    Donald said: “It makes no sense at all to ignore the existing Space Station market for something that may (or may not) exist in the future.”

    I wasn’t suggesting we ignore it. I just get worried when I see it painted as the only option.

  • I don’t see it as the only option. I see it as the only growth option that exists right now. As other growing options appear, if they do, then I am sure that SpaceX, et al, will go after them.

    – Donald

  • Dave Salt: really have no idea what the killer app. will be that gets us out there and actually believe there should not be one, since it’s too much like putting all our eggs in one basket. What I’d like to see is a an environment where LOTS of different ventures are being pursued and let market forces select the best in a Darwinian manner.

    This, I fully agree with.

    And this,

    and pushes NASA towards being a customer rather than a supplier of services, especially launches

    But, this I dont,

    This would translate to a space policy that focuses on basic infrastructure and technology development – as opposed to specific goals like a return to the Moon

    The problem is, as the Space Station / COTS experience has shown, basic infrastructure and technology development are best achieved with a goal in mind, a clear political and economic market. We’ve spent thirty years failing to reduce the cost of access to orbit with various projects from the Shuttle to NASP to X-30, et al, that had exactly one thing in common: the lack of a reason for them to exist. The instant we had the Space Station as a market, it became politically and economically justifiable for the govenment to subsidize access to it via COTS, which I (maybe over-optimistically) see as the first real chance we’ve had at dramatic cost reductions in all that time.

    – Donald

  • reader

    it’s worth remembering that Elon Musk established SpaceX well before COTS and was clearly aiming to service the GEO comsat market.
    Exactly, he isnt that dumb as to rely on NASA being a critical customer. He has SAID that Dragon existed before COTS as well.

    For people with short memories, orbital tourism was also gearing up when MIR was up there, not due to ISS.

    If anyone in this market relies on ISS to close his business case, he’s playing one hell of an expensive dice game.

  • Wouldn’t it be nice if Hutchison would stop justifying the civilian space program by saying it is important to “security”?

    Or as Mike Griffin said, “We don’t cancel the Navy.”

  • Reader: For people with short memories, orbital tourism was also gearing up when MIR was up there, not due to ISS.

    I know that. I even agree with your implication that Mir or something like it would have been a better option. But, Mir isn’t what we have and we should use what we do have, not what we should have.

    he’s playing one hell of an expensive dice game.

    Again, I don’t disagree with this. But, it’s the game we have. We play it, or wait until something better may, or may not, come along.

    – Donald

  • Vladislaw

    “I really have no idea what the killer app. will be that gets us out there and actually believe there should not be one, since it’s too much like putting all our eggs in one basket.”

    I feel the it will be like early explorers, whether they traveled by foot, mule, wagon or boat. You can only bring back what you can carry, so you want the lightest and the most quanity. For me that can only mean gem stone mining at ancient volcanoes and asteroid crash sites on the moon and mars. BUT, as I have said repeatedly on this site, you can not do ANY of that UNTIL the PROPERTY RIGHTS issue is finally settled. Think about it, if you could legally own lunar land and someone shouts “Astronaut G.A. Custer just found diamonds laying on the ground in shackelton crater” what would be the effect? Billionaires would be buying up MINING RIGHTS left and right AND would INSTANTLY have ASSETS ON THE BOOKS. BANKABLE mining rights is what PAYS FOR the mining equipment. The value of a mine is it’s FUTURE POTENTIAL and that future potential can be used as collateral for a loan to build BDB (big dumb boosters) and start the process.

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