NASA, Other

TPS exploration roadmap defers the Moon

The Planetary Society, which announced its guiding principles for a “Roadmap to Space” a few weeks ago, followed that this morning with the release of its full-fledged exploration roadmap at a press conference in downtown Washington. The biggest change the society made in NASA’s current exploration plan is to defer the goal of a 2020 human return to the Moon. Instead, they propose human missions beyond the Moon, such as to the Lagrange points and to a near Earth object, before embarking on human lunar landings and a base, and then only if it serves to advance what the society considers the ultimate goal, which is human missions to Mars. Deferring the human lunar missions, they argue, will help reduce the financial burden on NASA and allow it to focus on developing elements on Constellation, including Ares and Orion.

The proposal also calls for increased cooperation with other nations to create a true partnership for space exploration. NASA is already offering to work with other nations in the implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration, but Lou Friedman, executive director of The Planetary Society, said at the press conference that he envisions something more cooperative than the current situation, where NASA decides what is open to international participation and what is not. Greater international participation, they added, would also help decrease the fiscal burden on NASA.

As for Constellation itself, society officials sent some mixed messages. They did endorse development of Ares 1, Ares 5, and Orion (the full report calls for continued development of Ares and Orion and that the shuttle be retired “as soon as possible”). However, at the press conference they were open to reviewing Ares and Orion, and that during the development of the report the study team didn’t delve into the technical issues of Ares versus alternative launch vehicles. When asked, Friedman said it was “not inconsistent” to say they supported Constellation while also endorsing a review of the current approach.

Going forward, Friedman said the society planned to work both the executive and legislative branches, getting the report into the hands of President-Elect Barack Obama’s NASA transition team as well as key members of Congress; in the latter case, he said that he hopes that it leads to Congressional hearings on the subject in the next Congress.

38 comments to TPS exploration roadmap defers the Moon

  • reader

    Oh, gawd. I didnt RTFA but “human missions” to Lagrangian points ??
    “We are on a mission from humans, we come in peace .. oh wait, nobody here”

    With Ares I, to boot ?

  • MarkWhittington

    I think that defering the Moon makes this plan a nonstarter.

  • Bob Mahoney

    Actually, I think deferring the Moon makes it very much a potential starter.

    By removing the propellant/technical overhead of ascent/descent into a significant gravity field at your destination and the extreme overhead of establishing an outpost at the bottom of that gravity well, there are many who will perceive a false wisdom here in the notion of simpler (=cheaper) missions that will still permit the accomplishment of novel goals easily touted as “visionary achievements”.

    That the Moon is the most logical place to begin our re-establishment of our exploration capabilities for so many scientific & practical reasons (especially in terms of evaluating & implementing a sustainable, long-term enabling architecture that can open up the entire solar system to us…and I’m not talking ESAS here) can easily be dismissed in political circles because the rationale doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.

    Oh, yes, this is most definitely a possible starter.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Oh, gawd. I didnt RTFA but “human missions” to Lagrangian points ??

    Well, if you did RTFA, you wouldn’t have learned much from it about this, but it’s true, such missions could have important and unique potential for servicing high value science facilities. One Ares I won’t get you there (to either ES or EM Lagrange points), but two will, as will an Ares I and an Ares V.

    As opposed to expeditions/adventures to certain rocks for which the justification for going is not at all clear. Name your rock.

  • Jack Burton

    Something smells.
    Lori Garver is no doubt a big part of this.

    Watch it folks.

  • anonymous.space

    “but ‘human missions’ to Lagrangian points ??”

    Lagrange points provide ideal station-keeping orbits and observing sites for a number of existing and many future space-based observatories. The collecting areas of some future observatories are very large and may require human crews to erect and/or maintain. (HST or JWST but with thinner and larger collecting areas.) So human missions to Lagrange Points would not be missions to empty, targetless, useless points in space.

    And sitting atop the Earth-Moon-Sun gravity wells, Lagrange points can provide very fuel-efficient and close staging areas and fallback points for lunar expeditions. (Fuel depots, safe havens, etc.) It would require a different architecture than the one NASA is pursuing under Constellation, but such an architecture may provide more and better building blocks for missions to other human space exploration targets.

    None of the above is an endorsement of the Planetary Society’s plan, but the Society’s plan shouldn’t be dismissed either (especially based on false assumptions). They make a number of valid points.

    The problem is that we don’t know enough to make intelligent decisions on some key choices that can radically impact long-term human activities in deep space — and thus know which plan is really the best one. For example, what are the long-term impacts of the radiation environment beyond the Van Allen Belts on the human body, and what countermeasures and/or mission limits do they imply? Can lunar ISRU be as highly leveraging as some hope? (Is there even lunar polar ice given the recent Kaguya results?) What does it really take to erect extrasolar planet-hunting telescopes in deep space? What is the likelihood that Mars harbors a biosphere, what is its extent, and what countermeasures and/or mission limits does it imply? Can Martian ISRU work reliably at such distances? Etc.

    In an ideal world, NASA (or some agent) would be making investments in the research, technologies, and precursor missions needed to inform these questions, drive good architecture and system decisions, and not to jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, NASA and its human space flight budget are wrapped around the Shuttle and Ares I axles for now.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    The report several times stressed the need to develop a new “transportation system”, it seemed they are refering to Ares I sometimes and to something else in others. They do not actually spell out a recommendation on actual propulsion systems. Vasmir? Nuclear? Chemical? I would have prefered they actually spell out what they actually think should be developed.

    In part three they use the phrase “advance the development” of the Ares/Orion. This would be paid for by postponing the moon landings, base, and resource development tools. They state: “in order to minimize the interval between their readiness and retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010.” So it the new development only mean’t to close the gap?

    This would give other nations the ability to mature their moon technologies and to catch up to the USA and we will then start developing ours.

    What is wrong with leading? What if the international community decides NOT to pony up the money for space and delay ALL their lunar exploration plans?

    Also in part 3: “It will also allow time for nascent commercial launch options and lunar initiatives to reach fruition. The success of these international and commercial endeavors should have a major bearing on
    whether and how the United States decides to return to the Moon with human explorers.”

    Is this a let the commercial sphere handle it and have NASA concentrate on robotic missions?

  • reader

    So human missions to Lagrange Points would not be missions to empty, targetless, useless points in space.

    But. .. they would. LEO is halfway to anywhere, and we know very well how long we have been stuck in LEO. Replacing LEO with a noble goal of going to Lagrangian points instead ( with all the same mistakes ) is not going to help humanity to spread out to space.
    I am full well aware of the advantages of staging at Lagrangian points, placing fuel depots there etc, but one cant justify building a space program around going just there.
    You actually have to articulate your goals to sell your billion-dollar investment, throwing Lagrange points as a goal in itself is not going to help anyone understand anything.

  • Fact Checker

    ” Jack Burton wrote @ November 13th, 2008 at 4:47 pm
    Something smells.
    Lori Garver is no doubt a big part of this.
    Watch it folks.”

    I can assure you that Lori Garver didn’t have anything to do with the report. She received it today, like everyone else.

  • Al Fansome

    I am not usually a fan of Planetary Society reports, but this is better than about any other Planetary report I can recall reading.

    Let me count the ways:

    1) The Moon is a False Mistress: Some may recall that I recently challenged Dennis Wingo to make an economic case for a lunar base. Wingo failed to make an affirmative case. So, I think taking the focus off the Moon makes economic sense. For the time being, it is a step too far.

    2) Planetary Society Likes ISRU? Huh?: The report specifically talks about the importance of developing the ability to use space resources. Specifically“This should include research into the use of space resources for production of water, oxygen, propellants, and building materials.”

    3) Focusing Orion on Deep Space: This is good, as one major risk is that the Orion becomes a competitor to commercial systems in LEO.

    4) Target Humans to a NEO: Anybody doing the numbers, and looking at both risk and schedule, will come to the same conclusion — send humans to the asteroids.

    5) Hey, “Commercial” really is a Word: The Planetary Society actually used the word “commercial” in the report seven times. They used it an affirmative and positive manner too. Lou Friedman has changed his stripes.

    6) NEOs are Potential Resource: Planetary Society talking about NEOs as a potential resource too? Who would have thunk it?!

    Finally, I am pleased that Lou Friedman clarified during the press conference that they are not actively supporting the Ares 1.

    Nobody is around to help the Emperor with his pet rocket.

    Kudos to the Planetary Society,

    - Al

  • The report doesn’t state that they want to go to any Lagrange points. In fact it seems a bit vague on the point. It’s entirely possible they’re talking about going out past SEL-2 and loitering in a Solar orbit for a while before returning to Earth.

    The report doesn’t speak to me, as I don’t regard the exploration of Mars as the goal of human spaceflight. I’m more interested in Ceres & the asteroids and the moons of Jupiter than I am in Mars. I’m interested in the Moon first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see EML-1 as the next logical step in our infrastructure development or that development of EML-1 is a dis-enabler of Moon development. Rather, I see EML-1 as an enabler of GEO, NEOs, the Inter-Planetary Superhighways, as well as 24/7 access to anywhere on the Moon’s surface. So I think it’s smarter to head to EML-1 from LEO, rather than directly back to the Moon. If this pushes back the return a few years that’s fine, as we’ll be able to do it in a better way that enhances our possibilities of success.

    So too the Planetary and Mars Societies would be well served by embracing the return to the Moon (and out to the nearby asteroids readily enough if we’re doing this from EML-1), and using it to their advantage, rather than dismissing it as an unworthy objective for Grand National Plans.

    I searched for the words ‘business’ and ‘commerce’ in the report and didn’t find either. So again, the report doesn’t speak to me. If this is supposed to be a National Vision for Space then it can’t be something on which I can advocate the spending of my taxed dollars.

    I think the lack of exclusiveness is part of why I’m a member of NSS and not TPS. NSS is for the development and settlement of space by humans, irregardless of the particular destination, be it our Moon, L-5 colonies, Mars, asteroid habitats, or what have you.

    One thing that my experiences have shown me in my space work to date is that our voices are stronger when we sing together, rather than dissolving into the sussuration of a crowd.

  • anonymous.space

    “‘So human missions to Lagrange Points would not be missions to empty, targetless, useless points in space.’

    But. .. they would.”

    Simply not true. Counting both NASA and ESA missions, two spacecraft have utilized libration points in the past (but have since left or been deactivated), five spacecraft are currently carrying out missions at libration points, two spacecraft will launch next year to libration points, and the James Webb Space Telescope will launch to a libration point next decade.

    After JWST, there are plans on various drawing boards for larger deep space observatories that can require or benefit from human intervention for deployment/assembly and/or maintenance/upgrades, in the same way that the Hubble Space Telescope required human intervention to operate properly and benefitted from upgrades made possible by crewed servicing missions.

    “am full well aware of the advantages of staging at Lagrangian points, placing fuel depots there etc, but one cant justify building a space program around going just there.”

    One certainly could argue that erecting and servicing deep space observatories provides a strong justification for human space exploration beyond Earth orbit. Astrophysics places inexorable demands on observatories for larger collecting areas farther from Earth, especially in the growing areas of cosmology and exoplanet science, and the Hubble Space Telescope Shuttle servicing missions arguably demonstrate the value of putting humans in the loop when these facilities are being deployed, maintained, or upgraded.

    “You actually have to articulate your goals to sell your billion-dollar investment, throwing Lagrange points as a goal in itself is not going to help anyone understand anything.”

    The argument about libration point observatories is separate from the argument that uses libration points as a means to the lunar surface or near-Earth asteroids. Libration point observatories are ends unto themselves that, if serviced by human crews, likely also have benefits for the human exploration of planetary targets.

    And again, I’m personally not arguing that libration points are the next, best target for human space flight. Whether deep space observatories or NEOs or the Moon (or some combination of the above) is the fastest, highest leverage first step for human exploration of the solar system depends on the answers to a bunch of unknowns. But until the investments are made to answer those questions, none of these targets should be ruled out a priori.

    FWIW..

  • sc220

    Kudos to the Planetary Society,

    I agree that it is indeed a good report. However, I don’t think they identified the other missions that could be accomplished with the systems developed for NEO exploration. One is the deployment of humans into Mars orbit to supplement and enhance telerobotic exploration of the surface. These type of missions would be comparable to earlier studies focused on Phobos and Deimos, but would have more of an emphasis on Mars.

    Another mission that would make use of NEO capability is exploration of the surface of Venus. As with the Mars orbital missions, humans in proximity to the surface would reduce the communications delay and allow more direct control of surface rovers and aerobots. The added advantage here is that simple, high-temperature electronics could be used on the surface, while higher order electronics and processing equipment would remain in orbit with the crew.

    Now, I realize that Venus surface has no appeal as a place for eventual crew exploration. But the the more ambitious study that would be enabled by crew orbital missions could greatly improve our knowledge of planetary evolution and its implications for Earth.

  • reader

    Anon, i get what you are saying, but im inclined to think that human-tended observatories are a bad idea, with the current cost of getting humans up there, anyway.
    While HST is regarded as a success overall ( because we have low expectations ), i do tend to think that several impoved iterations of it launched on ELVs would have been way better bang for the buck.

  • reader

    BTW, anyone noticed that we used to do sort of iterative development for deep space probes early on in the space exploration programs, whereas now most of the developments are one-off ?
    Luna, Venera, Mariner, Pioneer, Surveyor, all had long series of spacecraft with increasingly better capabilities. What happened ?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Anon, i get what you are saying, but im inclined to think that human-tended observatories are a bad idea, with the current cost of getting humans up there, anyway.
    While HST is regarded as a success overall ( because we have low expectations ), i do tend to think that several impoved iterations of it launched on ELVs would have been way better bang for the buck.

    This is a defensible comment, but the same logic has to be applied to any of the other oft-stated goals for human space flight, except one … which is, as you said, “helping humanity spread into space.” But that oft-stated goal is not considered key by the federal agency responsible for doing human space flight. I have to wonder, for example, if human tended He3 plants on the Moon are a good idea, given the cost of getting people up there.

    For the largest space observatories in particular, the telescope itself is a major investment, an optical subsystem that really doesn’t need much “improvement”. You throw away the old one and send up another one on an EELV, and the primary mirror doesn’t get any bigger! What needs changeout is the box on the end, which is where the technological advances are found. That’s the science opportunity of servicing, as demonstrated with HST. Whether that changeout is best done by humans or robots is TBD.

    The issue here is about Lagrange points as high value destinations, and not whether they are such high value destinations for robots or humans. If a Lagrange point is a high value destination, it is for both. The usefulness of Lagrange points to both science and the greater exploration of space has been summarized capably in this thread.

    But the idea that putting yourself on a rock makes a more worthy form of exploration is really kind of silly. In many respects, Lagrange points in the solar system are the true “high ground” for future efforts. Look at them that way, instead of “halfway to anywhere”. Yes, that “halfway to anywhere” was a claim made about LEO, and in many respects it was true. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about human factors and in-space construction from ISS. Would we get “stuck” at a Lagrange point as we now seem to be “stuck” in LEO? That’s a planning and investment issue, and more a matter of a real business plan to go elsewhere, rather than some dynamical sticky trap.

    It should be noted, in response to another comment, that the Planetary Society report is indeed pretty vague about the utility of Lagrange points. That’s a real deficiency of the report, and unfortunately that same deficiency about utility is reflected in just about everything else the report endorses.

  • anonymous.space

    “Anon, i get what you are saying, but im inclined to think that human-tended observatories are a bad idea, with the current cost of getting humans up there, anyway.
    While HST is regarded as a success overall ( because we have low expectations ), i do tend to think that several impoved iterations of it launched on ELVs would have been way better bang for the buck.”

    That’s a very fair argument, and I agree that it remains to be seen how the trades between human versus automated deployment and replacement versus refurbishment play out. The only point that I was trying to make is that a concrete need to send astronauts to libration points to support future deep space observatories has emerged, separate from planetary targets (Moon, asteroids, Mars). We’ll see if it ever comes to fruition, but it’s probably a good thing to have more concrete rationales like this one for sending humans beyond LEO than too few.

    FWIW…

  • Ben the Space Brit

    I must admit that I was quite surprised when I first learnt that the VSE moonbase was going to be on the surface. Okay, I understand the long-term potential for ISRU and all that but that gravity well, even though it is a small one compared to Earth’s, is still an issue.

    Yes, by all means, the Moon is a good place to prove the technologies needed for long-term planetary settlements, just because it is only 4 days away and there is thus a better chance of people surviving a failure. However, if VSE is going to be about going beyond Earth/Moon to the rest of the inner solar system, then I would have thought that an orbiting staging post at EML-1 would be a lot more useful in the long-term. You can also use it as a ‘transit stop’ for re-usable moon landers if a surface base gets back on the agenda.

    At the risk of sounding dogmatic, in terms of VSE, the only objective for the Moon should be an in-depth manned survey of spots identified as potentially interesting by unmanned orbiter and crawler probes.

  • Al Fansome

    KEN MURPHY: I searched for the words ‘business’ and ‘commerce’ in the report and didn’t find either.

    Ken,

    Try again, and search for the word “commercial“.

    - Al

  • Al Fansome

    The argument over Lagrangian points is a false one.

    Lagrangian points are an “in order to”. Anybody proposing the ability to go to Lagrangian points needs to fill in what the “in order to” is.

    In that context, I agreed that going to a blank spot in space — even if it has unique and useful properties — is not (in itself) inspirational.

    Building a fuel depot is not inspirational either. It is another “in order to”.

    But if we think it through, it becomes clear that leveraging the value of Lagrangian points (and fuel depots) makes a lot of sense for both scientific and economic purposes.

    If we were to adopt the Dr. Marburger’s test — that we assess potential strategies on how they help us more effectively incorporate the Solar System into our economic sphere — then incorporating Lagrangian points (and fuel depots) into our overall strategy would score very high.

    If you add fuel depots into the mix with Planetary Society’s recommendations, we can easily get to the Moon. It is not an either/or proposition.

    Too bad that NASA did not take this approach during ESAS.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • reader

    the most serious flaw with any empty spot in space, however useful logistically, is that its …well, empty. Theres no land to live off of. And without living off the land, no effort will be ultimately sustainable. NEOs, Luna, asteroids, Mars, Venus, whatever, as long as we take the first steps to actually start living in space. Meaning not bringing everything from earth.
    It seems to me, we stand a best chance of doing that on Moon, because its logistically simple and we know enough about the land there to prepare for that in short order. Mars we know quite well too ( with NASAs almost exclusive fixation for robotic exploration last decades, we know it almost better than our closest neighbor ), but its logistically quite a lot tougher. NEOs are a neat idea, but which ones, if any of them have water or volatiles ? Is there ilmenite to cook oxygen out of ?

    Lagrange points, fuel depots, EELVs, RLVs etc can only be parts of strategy ( and a much better strategy than NASA is pursuing now ) but not the overarching goal.

  • reader
    Fundemental question – can we make the overall goal not a specific place (Mars/moon/asteroids) but a growth mechanism for society? IE can we make the federal policy goal be a spacefaring society, rather than moon or mars, or some other place?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Lagrangian points are an “in order to”. Anybody proposing the ability to go to Lagrangian points needs to fill in what the “in order to” is.

    Fine. I would say that science could be dramatically advanced by development of Lagrange points. As a destination, Earth-Moon-Sun Lagrange points are vastly more accessible than Mars, and even NEOs. There is a truckload of info on this, and I won’t even try to summarize it here. I also don’t want to get into an argument about the relevance of science to “exploration”.

    But I’ll turn the argument around. What’s the “in order to” about ISS which, after all, is up in “empty space”. We spent a vast amount of money and effort on that thing. I would say the same thing about the Moon, for which one might say the technological expertise that we gain about surface operations there bears on travels to Mars. Or does it? Many would say it doesn’t. NEOs? That’s a stretch too. And Mars itself? Oh, yeah, there’s that colonization stuff, which is not at all part of any national space policy (as in, it ain’t important to those folks who control taxpayer dollars).

    The “in order to” is simply “because there’s good stuff to do there”. Contrary to some belief systems, you don’t need rocks to do “good stuff”. I would also argue that visits to Lagrange points can be inspirational. Most of our human space flight efforts have not involved any rocks at all, and those efforts could hardly be considered uninspirational. Nope, the argument about Lagrange points is certainly not a false one. What is a false argument is considering footprints as a litmus test for exploration.

    This business of “living off the land” is similarly hallucinatory. That isn’t going to happen ANYWHERE for a long long long time. Get a grip. No, no one is talking about colonizing Lagrange points …

  • anonymous.space

    “And without living off the land, no effort will be ultimately sustainable… Meaning not bringing everything from earth… It seems to me, we stand a best chance of doing that on Moon, because its logistically simple and we know enough about the land there to prepare for that in short order.”

    While I think NASA should be doing much more (technology development, terrestrial simulations, robotic testbed missions, etc.) to investigate the promise of various ISRU possibilities, the jury is arguably out on whether ISRU will prove to be leveraging versus shipping propellants and other consumables from Earth. There are many unanswered questions about whether the resources exist, whether they exist in economically recoverable forms, what the mass of the ISRU equipment will be, what the output of the ISRU equipment will be, and how long the ISRU equipment can function before repairs or replacement are needed. For example, just last month, JAXA scientists revealed that observations by Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft indicate that there may be no ice at the lunar poles (at least, not on the surface). See (add http://www.):

    space.com/scienceastronomy/081023-no-moon-ice.html

    In the face of findings like that, it’s unclear why NASA has committed to a permanent lunar polar base but has not committed to the line of robotic precursor missions necessary to determine whether the resources that we think might exist at the lunar poles are actually real. Were the world more rational, there’s just a lot more that we’d do to understand the benefits, drawbacks, and tradeoffs of these various targets to long-term human space exploration before committing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to that all-important first permanent step.

    “NEOs, Luna, asteroids, Mars, Venus, whatever, as long as we take the first steps to actually start living in space.”

    When talking about actual deep space settlement, not just temporary visits, there are much tougher issues to deal with than ISRU, like the effects of space radiation on the human body. The best estimates today are that even with shielding, a 2.5-year Mars mission would expose astronauts to a radiation dose that exceeds or come close to exceeding the recommended lifetime limits for radiation exposure. See the “Effects” section of this wikipedia entry, which does a good job summarizing the issues (add http://):

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_threat_from_cosmic_rays

    So without some radical new shielding technology or extreme measures like terraforming or gene manipulation, humans that spend decades settling another body in our solar system will either spend the vast majority of their time underground or find themselves dying of cancer long before those decades are up (and forget reproduction).

    None of this means that settlement of other worlds is not something worth pursuing. I’m just making the point that there are some heady technical challenges involved, some relatively easier (will various ISRU schemes pan out the way we hope they will) and some hard to envision solutions to with our current technology base (long-term exposure to space radiation). Even if we manage to return to on the Moon circa 2020, actual, permanent space settlement is far from a slam dunk. There are some very critical obstacles, ones that lunar expeditions will do little to overcome.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    After Columbus came back to Spain what economic activity started taking place?

    Columbus CLAIMED land, came back to Spain and DEEDS started getting bought and sold.

    Without addressing land grants the whole idea of settling the moon is a mute point. You do not load up a wagon and take off without the idea you are going to OWN something when you get there.

    It is the FREE assets or heavily discounted assets that drove exploration. Timber rights, mineral rights, water rights, right of way rights, et cetera.

    Why do the oil companies run a NON STOP campaign to OPEN UP coastal drilling? So they can ADD those drilling rights to their ASSET side of the books. They want to gain resources that are HEAVILY discounted to add an as asset.

  • Yes, but you can’t really ‘claim’ land anywhere in space, even if you are allowed to ‘use’ it. (and if you’re not using it you can’t claim it) If you’ve got the gumption to go to our Moon to start doing something useful, then no one can really stop you, at least under the Outer Space Treaties. There is the whole issue of your government being internationally responsible for your activities in space under their flag, but that’s not really germane to the point at hand.

    What is the sticking point is the lack of a dispute resolution mechanism, and unfortunately the U.S. seems incapable of providing international leadership in that regard. We seem to much prefer the bully pulpit of bilateral relations. If there was some mechanism for resolving the inevitable disputes that arise, then businesses could be sure they would get a fair hearing with results that have teeth, and would be more confident in undertaking an endeavour like going to our Moon or visiting a nickel-iron asteroid.

    Having to pay capital to someone who has never been to the Moon for ‘permission’ to go there seems like a waste to me, as that’s capital that could be used to make the venture successful. It will probably be needed to pay taxes for the Space Court, since you know some idiot is going to send their robot through my slusher-bucket field and screw up my mining operations, perhaps even damaging equipment. It’s an obvious tort, but where to I go to get satisfaction?

    Ultimately, ‘deeds’ are just a form a records, and that’s really no different from registering a ‘Domain of Use’ on the Moon or asteroid with the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (OOSA). If you’re actually using the domain or area that you’ve registered as using, then you’re entitled to peaceful ‘use’ of that area without interference under the terms of the OST.

  • Vladislaw

    Correct ken, but with only a free use clause there isn’t the creation of an asset base. I can use the ocean for fishing, I can not claim the ocean on my books as an asset.

    If I drop a lander on the moon, pick up ONE shiney rock, bring it back to earth, put it on EBAY and sell my “lunar diamond” for 5 million a caret, It wouldn’t even pay for the mission.

    If my lander got to act as a land claim and I got 50,000 acres, how much are the other 50000 shiney rocks INSTANTLY worth on my books? The value of mine or oil well isn’t measured by the amount you have taken out. It is measured in future potential.

    How many texas oil millionairs were created just by the fact they owned the mineral rights? They didnt even have to pop a single well to become instant overnight millionairs which THEN provided the collateral for loans to actually do the drilling and start pumping oil.

  • reader

    The value of mine or oil well isn’t measured by the amount you have taken out. It is measured in future potential.

    Well, if you were able to bring back one rock, you definitely have future potential to bring back more, thats got to be worth something. If you can show investors a balance sheet that ends in black in reasonable amount of time, before others can pick up your trick, there is your business.
    If the fact that everyone else has equal opportunity to try that and beat you to the punch bothers you, you shouldnt attempt being an enterpreneur.

  • Brad

    The value of a lunar base is, aside from lunar exploration, discovering the limits and dangers of long-term low-gravity conditions to human health. That information is absolutely vital to proper design of any deep space manned exploration missions, whether the destination is Mars or anywhere else.

  • David Stever

    A point, only touched on by Brad is that we have no data on long term effects of low gravity on the human body.
    We already know from 40 years of observation, that humans in microgravity suffer greatly.
    The Cosmic ray problem calls for shielding, something that we should have have to bring with us.
    Not bringing every resource needed with us out of the gravity well points us any passing rock.

    All of these items point us at one thing- the Moon. We need humans in space- robots can’t do it all. We need to look at what 1/6th gravity does to a human over time. We need to shield those bodies, and the Moon is rocked in rock and rubble that can be used for shelter. The Moon is a ready source of much mineral and metal that we’ll need. There are smaller rocks that might be easier to breakup, but we have no experience in mining in a vacuum, and starting in microgravity is not how I would start.
    This all points to one thing- The Moon. We land there, we figure out how to do things, and then we continue to move out. Yeah, we need the Lagrange points for fuel depots and observation points, but we know we need gravity to keep our feet down and our heads up.

  • [...] of The Space Review, I look at a couple new alternatives to the current exploration plan, both the exploration roadmap by The Planetary Society announced last week as well as a brief paper by Neal Lane and George Abbey released last week by a [...]

  • Jeff Plescia

    As a participant in the workshop sponsored by the Planetary Society at Stanford University in February, 2008, I feel obliged to make some comments with respect to what is said in portions of the Planetary Society document “Beyond the Moon A New Roadmap for Human Space Exploration.”

    Page 5 contains the statement:
    “Among the conclusions of this group is that ‘the purpose of sustained human exploration is to go to Mars and beyond,’ and that a series of intermediate destinations, each with its own intrinsic value, should be established as steps toward that goal. The consensus statements and viewpoints expressed by this group of experts form the basis for the principles and recommendations contained in this document.”

    This statement is a blatant and intentionally dishonest misrepresentation of the recommendations and sentiments of the group.

    We had extensive discussions about what the conclusion of the workshop might be. While the conclusion reported in the Roadmap was clearly the predisposition of several members of the group, particularly the organizers, it was definitively and clearly not the consensus of the group as a whole. In fact, when these words (or words to the same effect) were suggested, the group clearly indicated to the organizers that they should not be used because they were inaccurate. However, the organizers chose to ignore the group’s wishes at the end of the workshop, at the International Astronautical Congress and in the Roadmap in portraying the results of the workshop. This has occurred despite the fact that members of the group pointed out after the workshop press release that such statements were inappropriate and incorrect.

  • Vladislaw

    “well, if you were able to bring back one rock, you definitely have future potential to bring back more, thats got to be worth something.”

    Yes, you are correct, that is worth something. The problem is, that “something” is not something you can add to the balance sheet, take to the bank and use for collateral for a loan. You could increase the value of your “good will” on the balance sheet, but that is so often times exploited that banks discount that amount by 90 percent in some cases.

    If the spot you picked that rock from, on the moon, was owned by you, if you owned the mineral rights to it you would gain several assets that could be immediately introduced to the market.

    You could sell the mineral rights for the regolith, minerals by type and parcel off the land and sell lots. Just bringing that ONE rock home you have created several products for market PLUS the ASSET value of the land and each mineral right that you decide to sell from your holdings. All with can be used for collateral for loans from banks and investor groups.

  • Al Fansome

    DAVID STEVER: A point, only touched on by Brad is that we have no data on long term effects of low gravity on the human body.

    All of these items point us at one thing- the Moon. We need humans in space- robots can’t do it all. We need to look at what 1/6th gravity does to a human over time.

    If that is the problem, then there are many potential solutions, and they should all be evaluated.

    If that is the problem, what we really need to figure out is WHERE does gravity kick in for turning on our biological mechanisms?

    Does is work at 1/6th g? Does it work at 1/3 g? 1/2 g? 1/10g?

    Can somebody sleep in a centrifuge for 8 hours at 1/X g, and get the health benefits needed for long-term (decades) survival in space?

    The only way to complete this research is by having a variable G research facility. Putting people on the Moon will not answer all the questions — it only answers the questions for the Moon. Putting people on Mars will not either.

    DAVID STEVER: We need to shield those bodies, and the Moon is rocked in rock and rubble that can be used for shelter.

    Again, you are posing this as a general problem. There are many potential ways to shield bodies that need to considered. Using regolith only solves the problem for planetary bodies. We need to also solve the problem for longer trips in free-space. There are many options for shielding in free-space, but learning how to move/process regolith (a good thing to learn) does not solve that problem.

    DAVID STEVER: we know we need gravity to keep our feet down and our heads up.

    And why is this important?

    BOTTOM LINE: These are straw man arguments to justify going to the Moon.

    If it did not cost so much — $100 Billion being the starting price — I would say “Let’s do it”. But considering the huge cost — which the GAO estimates to be over $200 Billion — we need to really know why we are going to the Moon, and have a real plan to produce those results.

    NASA, when asked “why are we going to the Moon?” can’t to this day give a compelling answer. Instead they give a long list of arguments developed by a committee. This laundry list reminds me of the long list of arguments that NASA used to give to justify Space Station Freedom in the 1980s.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Brad

    Talk about a straw man position! We don’t need to know yet about “decades of survival” in lower-G environments. But to do a Mars mission we do need to know about 30 months of survival. If it turns out humans require almost 1-G it will force a radical alteration of Mars mission architectures.

    In the near term no one will spend the billions needed to keep men in space for 6-months plus stays in a LEO variable-G lab which only provides data on human biology. But lunar missions provide low-G data as a free by-product of lunar exploration.

    I’m as eager as anyone else to get to Mars. But long term stays on the moon are the next sensible step in manned space exploration. If human presence is to expand into the Solar System (for any purpose whether it’s exploration, commerce or colonization) we need to advance in logical steps, learning what we need to suceed during the process.

  • Al Fansome

    BRAD: But lunar missions provide low-G data as a free by-product of lunar exploration.

    What makes you think that saying “spend over $100 Billion on human lunar exploration, and get free low-G data as a free by-product” is an effective sales tactic?

    You completely ignore the STRATEGIC question of justifying why this nation should spend >$100 Billion on human exploration of the Moon, and get wrapped up in a sales TACTIC.

    This may work for small retail sales, but it is not advisable for a national initiative of such huge scope.

    It will be much more effective if we first figure out what our elected representatives want, and then figure out how to give it to them.

    FWIW,

    - Al

    “Politics is not rocket science, which is why rocket scientists do not understand politics”

  • Brad

    “You completely ignore the STRATEGIC question of justifying why this nation should spend >$100 Billion on human exploration of the Moon, and get wrapped up in a sales TACTIC.”

    Al, WTF?

    I suppose I could just copy and repost my entire previous response but I suspect it wouldn’t do much good. Oh hell, maybe if a reword something.

    Lunar exploration has value in and of itself. There are many interesting places to explore in the solar system. But reaching many of those other places requires information we don’t yet possess, and long term stays on the moon will aid filling that information gap. Therefore the next logical objective of manned space exploration is long term stays on the moon.

    Now just because I agree with a lunar base as a logical next step DOES NOT mean I endorse any specific means by which NASA currently plans to achieve that objective. I do not agree with the ESAS architecture. Is that clear?

    Now will you do me the courtesy of responding to the actual content of my posts instead of putting words into my mouth?

  • Al Fansome

    I am going to respond to this in two different ways.

    First the simple answer.

    BRAD: Lunar exploration has value in and of itself.

    Anytime I hear somebody say “X has value in and of itself”, it usually means they don’t know what they are talking about. Building a base on the Moon is an “in order to”. You need to be able to answer “in order to WHAT”.

    BRAD: Now will you do me the courtesy of responding to the actual content of my posts instead of putting words into my mouth?

    OK, I have re-read your posts in this thread. I will give you a more complete answer.

    1) Your posts do not make the case for the GENERAL value of the “human lunar exploration” over other places human could explore. You just assert it, but you don’t explain it.

    2) In your first post, you do assert a specific value for “discovering the limits and dangers of long-term low-gravity conditions to human health.”

    You then correctly state, in my opinion, “That information is absolutely vital to proper design of any deep space manned exploration missions, whether the destination is Mars or anywhere else”

    However, you then go off the rails for this SINGLE specific benefit that you list.

    I then challenged you, saying that IF this is the objective — and it was the ONLY specific objective you mentioned (go back and re-read your own posts — that we should have a general research program that finds out where the key biological factors kick in. You then state (starting the circular argument):

    BRAD: But lunar missions provide low-G data as a free by-product of lunar exploration.

    This presumes you have already made a case that justifies the cost of lunar base in the first place.

    Which you have not.

    Now you state:

    Lunar exploration has value in and of itself. There are many interesting places to explore in the solar system. But reaching many of those other places requires information we don’t yet possess, and long term stays on the moon will aid filling that information gap. Therefore the next logical objective of manned space exploration is long term stays on the moon.

    This is correct in only one case.

    If long-term stays on the Moon are the CHEAPEST, QUICKEST, or BEST way, to acquire this health information. If true, you would have a case to make.

    But that is just not true. There are alternatives for acquiring that information, and some of them are much cheaper, quicker and better.

    - Al

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