Broadcast 1487 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

02 Jan 2011 Greg Baiden
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Guest: Dr. Greg Baiden. Topics: Mining the Moon/NEO. You are invited to comment, ask questions, & discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, & any discussion must be applicable to Space Show programming. Visit Dr. Baiden's website, www.penguinasi.com/industrial. In our first segment, Dr. Baiden introduced telerobotic and automated mining and said that mining the Moon would be easier than mining a NEO. He talked about mining lunar water as an example. What was needed would be to have customers & he suggested LEO to service both human spaceflight and GEO traffic using fuel storage depots. For NEOs to be a possibility, he said we would need 100% robotic capability and we are not there yet. He also suggested the market would have to be larger than the ISS needs. We discussed what should come first, the market or the capability to mine lunar water and get it to LEO. We talked about how such a project would be done and he suggested public/private partnerships. Later in the show, due to policy and regulatory issues, he suggested that the private sector would probably have the best chance of doing this as they would not be so regulatory bound as government. Other issues discussed with listeners dealt with power for the lunar mining equipment, all of the space transport needs from launch to landing on the Moon to launching from the Moon to rendezvousing with the orbital depot. Greg explained that on Earth in low cost labor markets like China, the trend was moving to automated mining, mostly to move the humans away from operations for safety reasons. He talked about mining under water as relevant to the Moon because of the ability to simulate lunar gravity. At the end of this segment, we started talking about repair capabilities and logistically being able to deal with mining consumables, mainly steel. In the second segment, we talked about underground mining and avoiding strip mining. Sandra emailed in about hurting the lunar environment and this opened a short discussion on lunar and space environmental issues. I cut the discussion short for reasons you will hear on air & I hope this does not become an out of proportion blog topic. That said, Greg had some important things to say on this issue given his vast experience in the industry. We should all take note of his wisdom. Later in this segment, Greg identified the four initial piece of equipment he would send to the Moon and we talked about having the equipment fixed in one spot or being movable to different locations on the Moon. As this segment ended, our discussion addressed nuclear power for the lunar mining equipment and policy which both Greg and I suggested would be far more of a challenge than the financing, technology, and engineering. In our final segment, we asked Greg how international mining companies dealt with the myriad of regulations from different nations given they operate in countries around the world. He said what was needed was a land clause and for space this would be a resolution to the property rights issue. The real estate issue for space mining would have to have a resolution for mining to be successful. He said the first party to do it would have a far easier time of it than subsequent companies. Don't miss his comments on this important issue. I asked Dr. Baiden about the treaties and he said they were probably insufficient for commercial mining operations. We also talked about the concept of benefit sharing for all humanity. At the end, he was asked about mining Platinum Group Metals (PGM) from the Moon. As for a plausible time line, if the policy part of this process went smoothly, perhaps we could stat some sort of operations within ten to twenty years. His last question was about the probable cause of the Chile mining accident a few months ago. Post questions & comments on the blog & send them to me for forwarding.

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