Jeff Feige, Return to the Moon Conference Manager.
SpaceShow interview with Jeff Feige
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.
- 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 -
comments by Jon Goff
- How Do We Live On the Moon? - panel
Brant Sponberg (NASA
Centennial Challenges) - Panel Chair
Ken Stratton (Caterpillar)
Do We Live on The Moon Panel - Jon Goff -
Jon covers most of this session. Here are some
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) -
Michael Wargo (NASA) Panel Chair
Geosciences Inst., Univ. of Tennessee)
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
- 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
Shanks - Special Assistant to the NASA Administrator
- Keynote Speaker:
Chris Shrank - NASA
- What Will We Do On the Moon? (Commercial)
Paul Eckert (Boeing) Panel Chair
Hugh Arif (Cisco)
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
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
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
- 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.)
- Michael Mealling reported on the plans
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
- Rich Pournelle talked about a XCOR's
tank project. They want to target in-space
propulsion applications and replace hydrazine
- 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.
- Dennis Wingo reported on his SkyCorp
company, which is developing on-orbit spacecraft
- Tom Taylor of Lunar
Transportation Systems talked about Shuttle
External Tank salvage to orbit.
- Steve Durst
Age Publishing discussed the International
Lunar Observatory project they are studying with
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allen Crider discussed his proposals
for Shuttle External Tank applications and lunar
- Legal Regulatory Policy - panel
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)
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
- 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
3. Fully commercial firm doing their own independent
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
He noted that He3 could be useful for other applications
besides energy production such as various scientific
- 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.
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
- Rex Redenoure gave the history of Ecliptic
Enterprises, whose RocketCams have become
common on US launch vehicles, including the current
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
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.
- Brant Sponberg
Centennial Challenges) - announcement of a
new challenge plus a description of NASA's new innovative
- Bigelow Aerospace Tour
- International Partners - panel
- 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
- 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
- Space Property Rights - panel
Berin Szoka (ISLP)
Rosanna Sattler (Posternak,
Blankenstein, & Lund LLP, Boston MA)
White (Attorney and space law consultant., Boulder
RTM Session: Space Law and Property Rights - Jon
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Summary - Jon Goff
RLV News weblog postings during the meeting:
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. ...
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
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
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
9:20 am (Pacific Time): Return
to the Moon: update ... Michael Mealling
has posted the presentation given by Brant Sponberg
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
... 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 mans return to the Moon - Las Vegas Sun/Space
Race News! - July.21.05
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.
Voss of t/Space
reviewed their CXV project.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
- 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.
Aug.6.05 - Added two more postings from Jon Goff:
Aug.7.05 - Added the final two postings from Jon Goff.