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RLV News Special Edition:
Space Frontier Foundation's
Return to the Moon VI
July 21-23, 2005, Las Vega, Nevada.

SS1

The Legal & Regulatory Policy panel was moderated by Tim Huddleston
(far left) of the National Aerospace Development Center. Continuing left to right are Marc Schlather of ProSpace, George Whitesides of the National Space Society and Jim Muncy of Polispace.

RLV News Archive Directory


This report on the Return to the Moon VI - 2005 meeting consists of a collection of postings on RLV News during the meeting and new comments added afterwards from my notes. I also include links to comments and articles posted by other attendees.

Other reports and articles on the meetings:


Jeff Feige, Return to the Moon Conference Manager.
SpaceShow interview with Jeff Feige

August 1 , 2005

Return to the Moon Conference Summary ... For the various panels and presentations I give brief synopses and comments and/or links to postings by Jon Goff and others about the presentations.

Meeting Agenda

Day 1:

  • Rick Tumlinson - opening remarks - See comments below ...

  • How Do We Get To the Moon? (Earth - Orbit) - panel on the status of lower cost access to space - See comments below ...

  • How Do We Get To the Moon? (Cis-Lunar) - panel on transport from LEO to the Moon - See comments below ...

  • Luncheon talk by Paul Eckert of Boeing - See comments by Jon Goff

  • How Do We Live On the Moon? - panel
    Brant Sponberg (NASA Centennial Challenges) - Panel Chair
    Ken Stratton (Caterpillar)
    Dennis Wingo (Orbital Recovery)

    • How Do We Live on The Moon Panel - Jon Goff - Jon covers most of this session. Here are some miscellaneous items:

    • Ken Stratton impressed me with the news that Caterpillar has done some fairly serious studies over the years on extraterrestrial construction concepts without NASA funding. In addition, for earth construction they are already developing fuel cell powered vehicles and stakeless, digital earth-moving systems, which would provide a good basis on which to develop lunar equipment.

    • Brant Sponberg discussed possible lunar related Centennial Challenges in addition to the current oxygen extraction competition. These Challenges could include regolith movers and VTOL demonstrator vehicles for lunar transportation.

    • Dennis Wingo said that 3-4% of the meteorites that pounded the Moon over the eons were of the nickel/iron kind that also include platinum group metals. Since platinum group metal deposits on earth are located on meteorite impact sites, it follows that similar deposits should be found on earth. Larry Taylor pointed out that the eight sites examined by Apollo and the Russian (unmanned) missions didn't spot any sign of nickel/iron. Dennis responded that examining eight random spots on the equator of the Earth would also fail to find nickel/iron deposits.

      Dennis's Moonrush book goes into great detail on the potential of mining platinum group metals from the Moon and how they would support the hydrogen/fuel cell economy on earth.

  • What Will We Do On the Moon? (Science) - panel
    Michael Wargo (NASA) – Panel Chair
    Wendell Mendell (NASA JSC)
    Larry Taylor (Planetary Geosciences Inst., Univ. of Tennessee)

    • Lunar Science Panel - Jon Goff

    • Michael Wargo discussed the work of the Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group (LEAG), which will hold a conference this fall: LEAG 2005, Oct. 25-28, 2005..

    • Larry Taylor, as Jon discusses, gave an informative talk about the interesting properties of lunar soil. See Taylor's homepage for links to resources about lunar development such as this Lunar Colony Lecture.

    • Wendell Mendell said that the lunar science community had for decades felt left out of NASA science priorities. Things brighten up a few years ago when a major study of possible future science missions included a lunar sample return mission on the suggestion list. This got the attention of NASA management who didn't know there was any interesting science left to do on the Moon. The VSE has now made lunar science a high priority.

      Mendell also pointed out a difference between "pure" science and the utilitarian science that is needed to support development of lunar systems and facilities to support human communities there.

 


Christopher Shanks - Special Assistant to the NASA Administrator

Day 2:

  • What Will We Do On the Moon? (Commercial) - panel
    Paul Eckert (Boeing) – Panel Chair
    David Gump – (t/Space))
    Red Whittaker (CMU Robotics Institute)
    Hugh Arif (Cisco)
    Dennis Wingo (Orbital Recovery)

    • What Will We Do On The Moon: Commercial Applications - Jon - Jon covers this session quite well so I'll only post a couple of items.

      Hugh Arif's talk made it clear that Cisco is taking space Internet very seriously. There is currently a Cisco "off-the-shelf" rounter running on the UK-DMC satellite built by Surrey Satellite and launched in Sept. 2003:


      A subcontractor is developing a rad-hard router. GSFC and SpaceDev have also done space TCP/IP development.

      Cisco wants to convince spacecraft builders to make TCP/IP the standard communications protocol. All data, video, imagery, and voice on the spacecraft should be merged into a packet stream for end-to-end IP linking.

      Dennis Wingo noted that for every ton of oxygen derived from iron oxide in the lunar soil (using Vapor Phase Pyrolysis), 2.4 tons of iron will be produced. This iron will be very useful for structures and radiation protection. It won't be very strong without carbon or other additives, but making the slabs thick in the low lunar gravity will ameliorate this problem. Aluminum and silicon can also be produced from lunar soil oxygen extraction processes.

  • Enabling Technologies - short presentations
    Michael Mealling
    • This was a very interesting session organized by Michael in which fourteen different people came up sequentially to give 5 minute spiels on their lunar related commercial enterprise or supporting technology. (Actually, the session was split and last four presented in the afternoon.)

    1. Michael Mealling reported on the plans by Masten Space Systems to develop low cost VTOL vehicles for suborbital flights. They want to serve the K-12 and university education market with flights in the $25k range, with up to 8 flights per day. The technology is potentially useful for lunar transport.
    2. Rich Pournelle talked about a XCOR's composite LOX tank project. They want to target in-space propulsion applications and replace hydrazine thrusters.
    3. Manny Pimenta of Lunar Explorer discussed the company's Virtual Reality Simulator in which one can experience walking on the Moon via high resolution 3-D viewers.
    4. Dennis Wingo reported on his SkyCorp company, which is developing on-orbit spacecraft assembly.
    5. Tom Taylor of Lunar Transportation Systems talked about Shuttle External Tank salvage to orbit.
    6. Steve Durst of Space Age Publishing discussed the International Lunar Observatory project they are studying with Spacedev. See comments below...
    7. Dennis Laurie of Transorbital reported on the status of the company's commercial lunar orbiter project. He said the project is still moving along but did not give a specific launch date. A collaboration with Hewlet-Packard is continuing. Development of some commercial opportunities have caused delays. Currently, the main commercial applications of the orbiter will be science experiments (e.g. NASA paying for imagery and video) and carrying memorabilia and cremated remains. Longer term, he mentioned landers that could provide a secure data storage service.
    8. Hugh Arif of Cisco said they will pursue the opportunities to supply TCP/IP routers for spacecraft and lunar facilities. He gave an example of a formation of nanosats communicating with each other via Wi-Fi.
    9. Gene Myers of Space Island Group talked about their continuing efforts to use Shuttle External Tanks to build orbital habitats and solar power stations. He also showed a shuttle derived vehicle whose top stage is a DC-X derived manned module.
    10. Lee Valentine of the Space Studies Institute discussed their project with Prof. William Jewell at Cornell to develop closed loop life-support systems to support in-space habitats and lunar facilities. They need about $2M to proceed to a Phase 2 study that would last 5 years.
    11. Bruce Pitman of Lunar Transportation Systems has a separate venture (he mentioned prometheus2.com but this site is currently empty) that is studying aneutronic fusion systems, such as those that would burn He3.
    12. Jason (? - didn't get his last name) of GSFC worked in the group that was developing a robotic service mission for the Hubble. The group is offering its rendezvous and proximity operations technology for various other applications such as fuel depots and space tugs.
    13. Derek Shannon of Red Planet Ventures (founded by John Spencer) discussed the Red Planet Expeditions resort under development in California in which people will experience a highly realistic simulation of a visit to a Mars base. They expect up to 250k "sim-nauts" per year to pay for the experience. A Lunar variation could be developed.
    14. Allen Crider discussed his proposals for Shuttle External Tank applications and lunar tourism.
  • Legal Regulatory Policy - panel
    Tim Huddleston (Aerospace Development Center) – Panel Chair
    Jim Muncy (PoliSpace)
    Marc Schlather (ProSpace)
    George Whitesides (NSS)

    • This panel focused on the current state of space policy, regulations, and advocacy in Washington. There was a lot of debate and Q&A discussion with the audience. Some miscellaneous notes include:

    • Marc Schalther mentioned a recent editorial he contributed to Space News (July 18th issue) in which he called for the setting of a fixed date for the retirement of the shuttle.

      He also urged greater involvement of the public with space and expected commercialization projects will attract more public interest in space.

      Small numbers of advocates can make a big difference on Congressional representatives.

    • Jim Muncy emphasized that the current Moon-Mars program differs from the Apollo era in that projects must be affordable and sustatinable.

      He noted that advocates must deal with the volatility of Capitol Hill in which conditions can change rapidly, e.g. riders inserted into legislation that can be detrimental to space policy.

      Must move space policy to one that makes large scale human settlement an accepted priority.

    • George Whitesides discussed the NSS proposal for NASA to create a Moon/Mars astronaut corps to raise the visibility of the VSE and to develop momentum for it.

      Moving towards commercial cargo ISS resupply will be a big boost for a new approach to space development.
  • Lunar and In-Space Business Models - panel
    Lon Rains (SPACENEWS) – Panel Chair
    Michael Mealling – (Masten Space Systems)
    David Gump – (t/Space)
    Charles Miller – (Constellation Services International)
    Rex Ridenoure (Ecliptic)

    • More RTM Stuff: In-Space Business Models - Jon Goff

    • This session focused on how to build a business based on in-space applications. Each of the panelists gave their views and the approach of their company to the challenge. Here are some notes from the presentations:

    • David Gump said that for lunar and deep space operations, the government is the only game available at the moment.

      He noted four models for space companies.

      1. Classic government contractor with a cost-plus contract and following exactly what NASA specifies.
      2. Innovative contractor with fixed-price contracts and payment for achieving milestones. (I.e. the t/space approach).
      3. Fully commercial firm doing their own independent project.
      4 . A nonprofit using contributed money to achieve their goals. (E.g. AMSAT)

      One approach is to pursue mixed government/commercial applications such as a lunar rover that would carry out scientific investigations as well as allow for public remote control operations.

      He thinks that by 2015, there could be 200-400 tourists going to orbit annually. He believes lunar tourists will be about 10% of the orbital number.

      He noted that He3 could be useful for other applications besides energy production such as various scientific uses.

    • Michael Mealling talked about his space value networks concept. See his ISDC Presentation: Value Networks in a Space Economy - Masten Space Systems - May.10.05 and Value Networks in a Space Economy (pdf) by Michael Mealling - ISDC - May.05.

      The Consortium for the Development of Space Value Networks (CDSVN) is looking for participants to develop nodes in the network. They will be using software tools from Spaceworks Engineering.

    • Rex Redenoure gave the history of Ecliptic Enterprises, whose RocketCams have become common on US launch vehicles, including the current Discovery mission.

      The company is a spinoff from the Blastoff! project, which developed a commercial lunar spacecraft and came very close to launching it when it had to fold due to the dot.com bust. (It's funding came from Idealab, a dot.com incubator company.)

      Ecliptic can be added to the short list of alt.space firms that are profitable. It has had 122 contracts since 2000. It only takes fixed-price contracts.

    • Charles Miller of CSI focused on the VSE and strategies for lunar development. He stressed that the goal must be permanent human presence on the Moon. A key aspect of the VSE is that it must be affordable and sustainable.

      He suggested a Lunar Base Development Authority model that would contract with NASA to build a lunar facility and it would assign property rights.

      If NASA follows an abandon-in-place process for a lunar base, it will be a failure like the Shuttle. The agency can't develop a facility that only serves its own purposes and then expect that it can just turn it over to a commercial operator when it is done. Commercial considerations must be taken into account from the very beginning.

    • The Q&A covered a number of issues such as ISS commercialization, and lunar projects by other countries such as China and India.

Day 3:

  • International Partners - panel
    Robert Goehlich (JAXA)
    Bob Richards (Optech/ Intl. Space University)

    • Robert Goehlich reviewed the pluses and minuses of international collaborations. He noted the duplication of efforts such as the various spaceplane prototype development projects and the success of cooperation with Arianespace.

      On the other hand, international projects tend to cost more since, for example, contracts must be distributed to each participant rather than going to the lowest bidder, regardless of its location.

    • Bob Richards reviewed his experiences as a Canadian businessman dealing with space projects in the US. ITAR has become a significant hurdle producing delays and costs.


  • Jim Muncy (Polispace) - discussed current space policy and strategies for space advocacy - See comments below...
  • Space Property Rights - panel
    Berin Szoka (ISLP) – Panel Chair
    Rosanna Sattler (Posternak, Blankenstein, & Lund LLP, Boston MA)
    Jim Dunstan (Garvey Schubert Barer)
    Wayne White (Attorney and space law consultant., Boulder CO)

    • Last RTM Session: Space Law and Property Rights - Jon Goff

    • This was quite an informative session on the complexities of space property. Berin first gave an introduction to the ISLP (Institute for Space Law & Policy) and then led a Q&A with the panelists on space property issues.

    • Berin Szoka, head of the ISLP, said the institute will be formally launched in September. It seeks "to aid in creating the legal regime of free markets and property rights that will allow private enterprise, supported by sound public policy, to open the space frontier to all mankind."

      Initially, it will be a "virtual thinktank" that produces white papers and other resources in support of various space policy initiatives and issues. Eventually, though, it will have a real "brick & mortar" site in DC.

      Grokspace will provide an online forum for participation in the discussions and collaborations sponsored by the institute.

      They need participants and they need donations.

    • A lot of issues were discussed. I'll just post here some miscellaneous notes:

      • Space property covers not only real estate on the Moon or other bodies but also objects launched into space, e.g. commercial satellites, and objects returned such as Moon rocks.

      • Property rights are covered by international treaties and agreements, customary international law, and local laws recognized by international authorities.

      • There was a lot of discussion of the Outer Space Treaty (OST). The treaty forbids states from claiming sovereignty over property in space and also forbids national appropriation through "other means", i.e. individuals can't step into the shoes of states and appropriate property.

      • Other parts of the OST are more supportive of commercial operations. For example, space exploration and use cannot be restrained or discriminated against. Ownership of equipment and facilities is allowed.

      • Ownership by the US and Russia of rocks they obtained from the Moon set a precedent for ownership of other materials returned from space.

      • Withdrawal from the treaty is highly unlikely.

      • The claim by Gregory Nemitz to the Eros asteroid might have set some precedents, which could have been negative ones, but was thrown out for technical reasons: Nemitz vs. U.S., The First Real Property Case in United States Courts - Wayne White, 2004.

      • Europeans tend to want the Lunar Embassy sort of operations to be prosecuted for fraud rather than taken as a joke.

      • Some US legislation that clarifies US interpretation of the treaty might be useful but Dunsten thought it might cause more harm than good.

      • An agreement among spacefaring countries on property rights could also be helpful. (This would be similar to agreements among countries doing deep-sea mining.)

 

General Summary Remarks:

  • Congratulations to Jeff Feige on a well run and very interesting and rewarding conference.

  • As Jeff noted, it was great to see a lot of young people at an alt.space meeting. He said about 10% of the participants were students.

  • A big difference I noticed between this conference and the Space Access Society meetings is that this one focused far more on NASA policy and politics. This isn''t a criticism. Many space advocates have long said that NASA's role is to focus on the frontier edge and the Moon is certainly where that lies at the moment. The space entrepreneurs, who are represented heavily at the SAS meetings, can focus on suborbital and earth-to-LEO transport.
  • RTM Summary - Jon Goff

 

RLV News weblog postings during the meeting:

July 24, 2005

11:40 am (Pacific Time): News briefs ... Still in Las Vegas and won't get back home till late Monday night. So probably few postings till Tuesday. ...

... Jeff Foust comments on Chris Shank's presentation: Commercialization becomes essential - Space Politics - July.23.05. Check the Space Review on Monday for a longer article from Jeff about the meeting. ...

... Jim Muncy gave a brief but interesting summary yesterday of how he sees the situation with US space policy. He saw Shank's presentation as an indication that the long battle by the entrepreneurial space community to get commercial spaceflight companies welcomed as partners in space development has been won. However, winning a battle can actually mean tougher consequences than losing since now comes the challenge of fulfilling that partnership successfully.

Getting another "big idea" accepted is also making progress. Large scale space settlement must become the primary goal of the space program. No Antarctica-like outposts on the Moon but Las Vegas-es instead. Griffin, in fact, stated in testimony to Congress that human expansion into the solar system is his long term vision for space policy. However, this big idea is still foreign to many at NASA, in Congress, the press and the general public.

Muncy believes the advocacy community should concentrate its fight on these battles of the big ideas rather than over the details of particular projects like the Heavy Lift Vehicle and whether it will be derived from the shuttle. If the war of big ideas is won, it will become much easier to fight for the optimum hardware to implement those ideas.

Top

July 23, 2005

9:20 am (Pacific Time): Return to the Moon: update ... Michael Mealling has posted the presentation given by Brant Sponberg yesterday: Innovative Programs announcements - Rocketforge - July.22.05. The image on the posting shows the particular slide I mentioned yesterday that outlines the areas where NASA will use service agreements and prizes to encourage development progress.

July 22, 2005

6:25 pm (Pacific Time): Return to the Moon: update ... Another impressive day at the RTTM meeting. Way too much material to cover here before I head to the conference banquet. I'll just hit some high spots. See Michael Mealling's RTTM VI Day 2 posting for pictures and more comments.

  • One of the major presentations of the day was given my Chris Shank, special advisor to the NASA Administrator. He began with a general outline of the NASA exploration program and showed a multi-year 2-D timeline chart. He stated flatly that the goals shown on the chart could not be accomplished if NASA continued "business as usual". Only with substantial innovation in the way NASA implements the plan and with far greater involvement of commercial companies will the goals be met.

    Opening ISS cargo delivery to commercial services looks to play an important part in making the plan affordable and sustainable.

    That was the good news. The bad news (in my opinion) is that he made it clear that a shuttle derived launcher for the CEV and a heavy lifter will almost certainly be included in the grand exploration scheme.

    I think Jeff Foust will provide a detailed review of Shank's talk in the Space Review either this Monday or the next.

    Top

  • Brant Sponberg of the Centennial Challenges program announced a new Space Glove competition. It will be carried out in partnership with Volanz Aerospace / Spaceflight America. Alan Boyle broke the story earlier - Building a better space glove - Cosmic Log / MSNBC - July.22.05 - and I'll note that Rand Simberg suggested such a competition when CC first solicited ideas for prizes.

  • Brant also reviewed NASA's plans for the Innovative Partnership Programs (IPP) . He showed a chart that began with Suborbital in the bottom left corner and ended with Small Lunar Transport in the top right. In between were categories like Low Cost Earth-to-Orbit, Re-entry, and Crew Transport. Each came with a set of goals that NASA hopes to achieve with the partners. NASA will manage the partnerships with service procurements, "Other Transaction Authority" (OTA), and prizes. (I hope to get a link to this slide if I can find it online.)

    The suborbital category goals included services hired for micro-gravity experiments and technology payloads. Prize competitions will be held in the areas of altitude and reusability for science experiments and development of VTVL prototypes for lunar landers.

    Top

  • Space Age Publishing has awarded SpaceDev a third contract in a series of studies for its lunar observatory project: Human Service Mission to the International Lunar Observatories - Spacedev - July.22.05.

    Top

... Lots of presentations on various business models for lunar technologies and development. Lots of discussions on NASA policy. I'll try to review these next week if Jeff or someone else doesn't in the meantime. ...

... A local story on the conference: Group promotes man’s return to the Moon - Las Vegas Sun/Space Race News! - July.21.05

July 21, 2005

6:55 pm (Pacific Time): Return to the Moon: update... The meeting has been going quite well. Michael Mealling has posted pictures and comments at RTTM VI Day 1 - RocketForge - July.21.05.

This is my first RTTM meeting but I heard that this one is the second biggest ever in terms of registered participants. There are also a number of NASA and major aerospace company reps, which is apparently new. Several participated in the sessions.

Most of the sessions are panel discussions rather than individual presentations. There are brief overviews from each panelist and then a Q&A. This is good in that a lot of ground is covered but I wish some of the speakers had more time to give a longer account of their projects.

I don't have time to review each session, so I'll just give some random items:

  • Rick Tumlinson got things started with one of his usual rousing sermons on the need for commercial space development. I liked his analogy of Apollo to the Viking activity in the New World. Neither managed to set up a viable, commercial settlement worth fighting to maintain and so the initial effort was quickly abandoned. Top

  • How Do We Get To the Moon? (Earth - Orbit) - A session on earth-to-LEO transportation included Debra Lapore of Kistler. She gave the usual info on Kistler: the K-1 is 75% complete, they will compete for ISS cargo delivery and use that to raise the money to finish the K-1. One thing new that I saw was a graphic with an image of a heavy lift version of the K-1 with a cluster of first stage boosters. (I assume all are reusable.)

  • Charles Lauer of Rocketplane talked briefly about their suborbital vehicle and said they were on track for test flights in late 2006. He then showed some graphics depicting a 2nd gen system that could be used to compete for the Bigelow Prize. It looked similar to the original orbital Rocketplane concept of a first stage fueled in-flight but it had a reusable manned second stage.

  • Jim Voss of t/Space reviewed their CXV project.

    Top

  • At the end of the day, Bretton Alexander, VP of t/Space and a former administration official who helped craft the VSE, discussed the project as well. Unlike Kistler, t/Space will not try to develop their system with commercial money but will seek a fixed-cost contract, milestone payment approach with NASA. Alexander said that for human spaceflight there is no current commercial market and it would not be possible to raise $400M to develop a vehicle to serve an unproved market. Instead, they see the CXV as serving a specific NASA crew delivery requirement. Once the CXV is flying, they will spin off a commercial version to help develop the orbital space tourism market.

    Top

  • How Do We Get To the Moon? (Cis-Lunar) - A session on LEO-to-the-Moon included Bruce Pitman of LunarTransportationSystems.com (affiliated with Spacehab and Kistler), Charles Miller of CSI, and Dallas Bienhoff of Boeing. Pitman's talk was quite similar to that of Tom Taylor's at SAS'05 and like David Anderman at SAS'05, Miller reported on the Lunar Express. Bienhoff discussed a number of different lunar transportation architectures that Boeing is studying, including the use of L1 as a staging area.

  • In response to a question about lunar transportation architecture, Lauer had said he favored the "dry launch" concept (mentioned by Rand Simberg at SAS'05) in which modules and fuel are launched separately. Interestingly, Bienhoff later concurred that this approach would obviate the need for development of new launchers like the shuttle derived vehicles.

  • The other sessions were more directly related to lunar operations and I will try to come back to them later, perhaps in a summary next week.

    Top

Updates

Aug.6.05 - Added two more postings from Jon Goff:

Aug.7.05 - Added the final two postings from Jon Goff.

 

 

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