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Guest: Kasper Kubica; Topics: The concept put forth by our guest for luxury $10 million condos in free space, the gravity RX, markets and demand, space settlement capital and investments, timelines, lunar and Martian space settlement.
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We welcomed Kasper Kubica to the show for the first time to discuss his idea for $10 million luxury condos in free space as a way to kick off space settlement. His proposed structure which you will hear discussed was very much like a typical condominium structure and project here on Earth other than our guest modeled his condos on high end luxury units being sold in NYC. Read about his plan with his website article, "The $10MM Condo in Orbit" at https://kasperkubica.com/the-10mm-condo-in-orbit-14af050fa4. Fremont John has also posted a good article about the concept on his Space Settlement Progress blog, "Coming soon: the $10M orbital Condominium" at https://spacesettlementprogress.com/coming-soon-the-10m-orbital-condominium.
Kasper opened the dialog talking about his concept, free space as compared to settlement on the Moon or Mars, SpaceX with its Mars plans, Starship as an enabler to space settlement through price reductions and lots more. During this introductory segment, Kasper referenced the LEO space settlement work done by Al Globus with his ideas using the rotating habitat Kalpana Space One in free space per the Globus concept. He also started the explanation (it was off and on throughout our discussion) as to why he saw the possibility of luxury condos in space given the prices high condos were selling for in Manhattan.
Soon after Kasper started his discussion, we had our first caller, Fremont John. John spent quite a bit of time with us, in fact close to 40 minutes. He had questions for Kasper about orbital assembly, the challenge for it and the use of real estate sky scraper models. He also talked about the need for figuring out the gravity RX for humans in space and wondered if the billionaires such as Bezos or Bigelow would be able and willing to fund such a project. Figuring out the gravity RX became more and more of the their discussion topic but I also kept market and demand questions in front of our guest and later financial questions. In addition, I challenged some of the thinking that the high end NY or elsewhere luxury condo market was a good comparison for free space given the fact that living in NY is not the same as trying to live in space as the environments are radically different from one another. With Fremont still on the line, questions came up about providing life support needs to the space condos which Kasper said would be similar to the function carried out by a typical condo homeowners association (HOA). Timelines were discussed, lunar outposts were talked about and then Fremont John started talking about Musk not making the gravity RX a priority. I challenged that assumption because the fact is we don't know if it’s a priority with Musk/SpaceX just because its not what he typically talks about. John brought up the Orbital Assembly Corp that wants to determine the gravity RX and submitted it in the commercial space station plan to NASA. For John, the gravity RX is the priority plus for him space settlement is a priority that we need to be working on now given the lead time to get it going. Kasper was in agreement with this discussion.
I want to clarify my position here because I did a lot of challenging to both John and our guest Kasper. First, I definitely believe it is essential and it should be a priority to determine the gravity RX for humans in space. I am disappointed that it has not been done, that NASA does not seem to be that interested in doing it. Because it is a type of basic research meaning it would be awfully challenging for a private company to do the research given such research usually does not come with an ROI. In addition, I do not think it is essential that space settlement start now as a priority. I don't see much of a demand for it though advocates and space enthusiasts definitely support it but how many of them will go to live in space, will be able to afford it, or will make investments in the industry to help bring it about. I do believe space settlement will happen, I through out a 2050 timeline but the truth is I have no idea because of the unknowns in our economy, in national priorities, in the way regulations will unfold and how human spaceflight will unfold in the coming years which I think may have a lot to do with the politics of the day and the administration in power.
After the call with Fremont, we talked about commercial space stations as initial free space settlements. Kasper also talked about a lunar outpost as likely happening first but was clear that was not a settlement. Later in the discussion, with multiple listener emails coming in and being discussed on the show, I used the fusion industry with capital investment as example of what is not happening with space settlement since private capital is not flowing to settlement at this time. Kasper suggested the capital was flowing to satellites and launch reduction access but when those areas seemed to be more mature, settlement would likely be one of the next space groups for investment. He said that could happen in a 5 to 10 year time frame. I hope he is right and I tended to agree with him on the direction of capital flows at this time.
We got an email from Joe suggesting life support was not a n issue since we knew how to do it with the ISS. I read his note on air but I thought it was a bad example as the ISS life support is funded by the government, meaning tax payers. Tax payers are not going to fund life support for luxury condos or any space settlement in my opinion. Also, the ISS is not closed loop life support while settlement will certainly evolved to that type of life support. Garbage, trash, and waste is often returned to Earth. Is that going to happen with a private settlement and just be absorbed as operating costs for the private sector? What do you think? Please post your comments about this on our blog.
As we were nearing the end of a 90 minute program, I asked Kasper to go back to the beginning and give us a step by step for reaching the settlement goals he has put forth. Don't miss his plan. You might also want to comment on it on our blog. As we were coming up on the end of the show, there was some more discussion about demand for the condos and for settlement in general. I asked Kasper if he had ever reached out to the marketing agents to the elite and super wealthy who buy the very luxurious yachts and super costly condos. I was not asking about a formal marketing study, just a talk with some of the people who sell these items to the super rich. He might want to find out what they tell him about marking a $10 million condo in LEO. Kasper had not done that but I hope he will. In fact, he could easily develop an unbiased (in either direction) short survey of open ended questions and simply mail it to the leading brokers and marketing people to the super rich. It would not be hard to find out who they are and there may not be that many, especially if he say limited his "research" to those in the U.S. I hope Kasper does this but anybody could do this. To me, the only requirements are that the survey questions be totally without bias with open ended questions with room for the person responding to provide a thorough answer. Maybe six questions max. Any thoughts on this? You know where to go to express them. Yes, that's right, on TSS blog for this program.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach our guest through me or his website, www.kasperkubica.com.