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Guest: Al Globus; Topic: We discussed Al's latest paper focusing on developing an ELEO habitat for low radiation benefits, "Near Term Policy and Research Priorities to Enable the First Space Settlement" plus lots more.
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We welcomed Al Globus back to the show for a two part 91 minute discussion regarding his latest paper, "Near Term Policy and Research Priorities to Enable the First Space Settlement." You can easily download and read his paper at http://space.alglobus.net/papers/Near-Term-Policy-and-Research-Priorities-to-Enable-the-First-Space-Settlement.pdf. Al referred to his June 2019 paper multiple times during our discussion so have it available as a reference tool to what Al talked about. I strongly recommend you read the paper when you have time. Please comment on the paper and this discussion by posting on our blog for this show. Note that once again we shared our great sponsor messages with your during the break between the first and second segments of the program.
We started our discussion by having Al introduce us to the idea of a low radiation equatorial orbit for a free space settlement. This location is referred to as ELEO. Al spent considerable time talking about the characteristics of an equatorial orbit along with the benefits of having our initial settlement located in this orbit. Many of the benefits Al mentioned included being close to Earth, lots less shielding needed resulting is a lower mass and cheaper launches, available frequent launches from Earth for resupply, food, and other essentials, plus easier access for tourism and eventually space hotels. Al talked about these advantages, some in more detail than others. He also talked about habitat or orbital station design. Check out the design concept for the Kalpana Two station. Our guest used this model to expand upon the design for our discussion, including the eventual construction and operation of space hotels. Furthermore, our guest talked about it being easier (not easy) to build the station in ELEO than say on the Moon, Mars or even in deep free space. All in all, after listening to this discussion, you will understand why Al suggested this location as the place start the process of humans moving off Earth to live in a space settlement.
The subject of the settlement being independent or Earth dependent came up. Al said it would be dependent for a long time. He went on to say the had figured out only three potential commercial revenue sources: (1) Earth point to point transportation as suggested by Elon Musk; (2) Space Solar Power; (3) Tourism. I suggested another possible revenue source for the future which was medical research/patient treatment. ELEO EVA was suggested as well given a tourist might pay extra for the EVA opportunity.
A listener asked Al about children, pregnancy and child development possibilities for his settlement. He told us that his definition of a settlement included family. Later, another listener asked him if his definition of a settlement included animals or pets. He said no but listen to all of what he said on this subject. Al was asked about a timeline to developing this station. He talked about a decade or so but less than ten decades. He then said maybe 30 years. Al suggested our current TRL level was no greater than 2 and that we needed to develop closed loop life support.
Earlier in the program Al suggested a role for the government in this settlement project. Al explained his position on government participation which may not be what you think it is so be sure to listen to all of what he said. Al did say he wanted to see space settlement mostly be a private sector undertaking. That said, he did say there were roles and responsibilities for government. Don't miss what he said about this.
Later in the program Al was asked if the settlement would develop Astrolaw or use terrestrial law. Once again, don't miss what he said in response to this listener email question. He noted that a space attorney told him this should not be rushed but allowed to evolve through legal cases before courts and agreement. Listeners then asked Al for the actual steps outlined in his paper to get going on implementing the development of this ELEO habitat. Al went through the top three or four steps, taken directly from his paper. Don't miss them.
Listeners asked many additional questions before our program ended. One listener wanted to know how he planned to get any government support when there did not seem to be money for official programs such as Artemis and returning to the Moon. Al talked some more about the DOD SSP $100 million experiment planned for the near future, plus the need for real space debris cleanup. Other challenges were brought up including a key challenge, wobble. Al described this and said it would probably be solved by government but it must be solved. Listen to his explanation of wobble.
Before concluding our discussion, Al mentioned expansion possibilities for commercial settlement habs throughout all of the solar system. He refenced the Ceres model so pay attention to what he said. I had a hard time visualizing it but eventually, with Al's help, I got it with a suggestion and comparison which seemed to clear things up, at least for me. Don't miss it. Al then popped a surprise topic on us before the program ended. He asked us what we might do and how we might behave if we find aliens out there. He provided us with three options revolving around our being nice or nasty to the aliens. Don't miss Al's comments on this subject. Before we ended, we talked about ISDC at the end of May in Frisco, TX and Al's presentation plans for the event.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog fort this show. You can reach Al through me or his website, http://space.alglobus.net.