Author Topic: Subcommittee on Space Hearing - Private Sector Lunar Exploration  (Read 2465 times)

Offline yg1968

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Subcommittee on Space Hearing - Private Sector Lunar Exploration
Date: Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 10:00am
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Subcommittees:
Subcommittee on Space (115th Congress)
Private Sector Lunar Exploration

Hearing Charter

Witnesses:

Mr. Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA
Mr. Bob Richards, founder and CEO, Moon Express, Inc.
Mr. John Thornton, chief executive officer, Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
Mr. Bretton Alexander, director of business development and strategy, Blue Origin
Dr. George Sowers, professor, space resources, Colorado School of Mines

https://science.house.gov/legislation/hearings/subcommittee-space-hearing-private-sector-lunar-exploration

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 09/08/2017 08:10 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Proponent

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Just got round to listening to this.

Rep. Rohrabacher seems a little confused.  About 1:22, he goes on about how "the mission to Mars" is unaffordable, but the "mission to the Moon" is affordable.  But he seems to be confusing sending humans to Mars with sending robots to the moon.

Offline QuantumG

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Rep. Rohrabacher seems a little confused.  About 1:22, he goes on about how "the mission to Mars" is unaffordable, but the "mission to the Moon" is affordable.  But he seems to be confusing sending humans to Mars with sending robots to the moon.

He's not confused at all, he's just opining on the correct direction for human spaceflight, like usual. Considering that Blue Origin was there pitching Lunar COTS while trying to stay on-topic, it's good that someone talked about it.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline yg1968

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One of the interesting issues that was mentionned during the hearing is when a Congressman asked what else Congress could do (besides what they already did in the 2015 U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act) to provide a legal framework for property rights for resource utilization. Brett Alexander of Blue Origin essentially said: nothing domestically but he suggested that internationally more certainty was needed for space resource utilization.

I agree with him. The the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (and its Luxembourg equivalent) were steps in the right direction but they shouldn't be the only steps.

P.S. Here is a text of the the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (incidentally, Bridenstine was a co-sponsor of that bill):
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2262/text
« Last Edit: 09/19/2017 07:42 PM by yg1968 »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Rep. Rohrabacher seems a little confused.  About 1:22, he goes on about how "the mission to Mars" is unaffordable, but the "mission to the Moon" is affordable.  But he seems to be confusing sending humans to Mars with sending robots to the moon.

He's not confused at all, he's just opining on the correct direction for human spaceflight, like usual. Considering that Blue Origin was there pitching Lunar COTS while trying to stay on-topic, it's good that someone talked about it.
A Lunar COTS program that develops a source of Lunar propellant that can then be shipped up to a Lunar Orbit where the assembled Mars mission spacecraft are then fully fueled for their trip, is what the commercial guys keep  making hints at to Congress that in the long run would decrease the price tag on a NASA Mars mission or missions significantly.

The Lunar COTS program would encourage private development of a Lunar exploration architectures to be the provider of significant amounts of propellant to the customer NASA. Along the way that same set of infrastructure architecture would support other NASA scientific goals for Lunar exploration at inexpensive prices. Then there would be additional commercial customers start to be interested in the Moon and the resources/opportunities found there.

Additionally Commercial/Private Lunar Exploration infrastructure architecture would make asteroid mining also more viable and could literally encourage significant private investments and development without NASA direct involvement. A competition could evolve between multiple sources of in-space products such as propellant and building materials.

Online KelvinZero

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Is Lunar COTS being used as a generic term or is it this?
http://lunarcots.com/
and is that the same as https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/aiaa2015-4408zunigalunarcotspaper.pdf ?

I have been a fan of this for a long time, specifically a "robotic lunar colony" (I also suggested COLTS before I heard the term "lunar COTS" but it never stuck :) )

There was also some Spudis scheme involving initially unmanned. I remember it came out afterwards.

Anyway, my plan was:
* NASA spends some fixed sum eg $0.25b/year to buy commercial cargo soft-landed on the moon. It just gets the maximum kg it can at the price. Hopefully kg/year goes up over time.
* NASA does not specify or pay for payloads. Instead it has a panel that awards the cargo space to the best and most useful self-funded projects contributing to a "robotic lunar colony".
* Why would companies or universities create payloads for free? A combination of reasons. (a) For the prestige (b) because they are doing relevant tech development anyway (c) because they have their own scientific goal or commercial scheme but could not afford the initial hurdle of transportation to begin it. These reasons could all end up being superior to companies who produce payloads just to match government specifications, with no ulterior goal.

To me, the definition of a robotic colony is obvious but it confused some people. It is doing the same things as a human colony but with teleoperated robots, ie science, prospecting, power generation, ISRU, manufacturing... not all at once but as projects get added or upgraded. Eventually either humans get added or we develop clanking replicators. The direction depends on where technology advances fastest. In any case, with a fixed yearly sum and an unknown time period the moon would eventually become part of the sphere of human industrial activity.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Is Lunar COTS being used as a generic term or is it this?
http://lunarcots.com/
and is that the same as https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/aiaa2015-4408zunigalunarcotspaper.pdf ?

I have been a fan of this for a long time, specifically a "robotic lunar colony" (I also suggested COLTS before I heard the term "lunar COTS" but it never stuck :) )

There was also some Spudis scheme involving initially unmanned. I remember it came out afterwards.

Anyway, my plan was:
* NASA spends some fixed sum eg $0.25b/year to buy commercial cargo soft-landed on the moon. It just gets the maximum kg it can at the price. Hopefully kg/year goes up over time.
* NASA does not specify or pay for payloads. Instead it has a panel that awards the cargo space to the best and most useful self-funded projects contributing to a "robotic lunar colony".
* Why would companies or universities create payloads for free? A combination of reasons. (a) For the prestige (b) because they are doing relevant tech development anyway (c) because they have their own scientific goal or commercial scheme but could not afford the initial hurdle of transportation to begin it. These reasons could all end up being superior to companies who produce payloads just to match government specifications, with no ulterior goal.

To me, the definition of a robotic colony is obvious but it confused some people. It is doing the same things as a human colony but with teleoperated robots, ie science, prospecting, power generation, ISRU, manufacturing... not all at once but as projects get added or upgraded. Eventually either humans get added or we develop clanking replicators. The direction depends on where technology advances fastest. In any case, with a fixed yearly sum and an unknown time period the moon would eventually become part of the sphere of human industrial activity.
I believe what we are seeing from NASA now is the Phase I described in the  https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/aiaa2015-4408zunigalunarcotspaper.pdf
updated to what is the current mix of viable commercial companies for landers and rovers in the near future (<5 years).

This also puts any Phase II  which would be large landers and rovers (multi ton payloads) at about 3-5 years out depending on the speed at which the Phase I accomplishes NASA goals. The questions is what are NASA goals? So far I have seen just like the ones for SLS a collection of capabilities as the goals.

What is the end result trying to be achieved? ISRU? General Lunar exploration (anywhere on surface and anything being studied)? HSF Base scouting/setup?

Nasa needs to stop specifying capabilities (landers and rover sizes and operation durations) and list the goals to be achieved that are the end results. This would then drive the commercial participants toward the achieving of the capabilities that enable the end results since NASA would be purchasing services for those end results not the placement of X kg of random instruments. If the goal is only the placement of X kg of random instrumnts onto the Lunar surface then not much funding for the program will ever be approved by congress. Congress needs a short and concise goal they can understand. This leads to a comment expressed by Paul Spudis at the LEAG conference on the need for NASA/US government to have clear goals/mission statements for its programs.

Something like:
To promote and expand the US industry of space technology and leaders in cis-Lunar (includes Lunar surface) capabilities to explore and put in place a permanent leadership presence by the US in these regions of space. To implement in a public private methodology to achieve lower costs and shorten development times to achieve these goals. To support other beyond Earth orbit activities enabling the lowering of costs and time to achieve mission goals.

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