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Guest: Dallas Bienhoff; Topics: Cislunar and lunar development, space settlement, O’Neill vision, free space habitats, needed technologies, challenges and timelines.
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We welcomed back Dallas Bienhoff of the Cislunar Space Development Company, LLC (CSDC) to a wide ranging discussion about cislunar development, lunar habitats and development, plus free space habitats and settlement. Note that there were audio issues with intermittent clipping on the guest phone line. I started the discussion with a question that came up during the SSI Space Settlement Conference review program with John Jossy and Kim Holder. The listener asked John and Kim about Dallas leading a panel at a conference promoting the O'Neillian free space habitat vision while Dallas is focused on cislunar development and returning to the Moon. Don’t miss what our guest had to say in response to this question which focused on providing enabling support for free space settlements. In his response, our guest stressed the need for solving the space transportation problem needed for free space settlements as well as the Moon, Mars, and everything in space. Thus, achieving routine, affordable cislunar transportation is an important key to all space development. Cislunar transportation and development is a major focus of the Cislunar Space Development Company (CSDC). This initial program discussion included ISRU and critical transportation from lunar orbit to the Moon and from the Moon to a free standing LEO habitat. Solving the space transportation problem was a significant discussion point for today's program.
Our discussion topics moved forward to focus on procurement. Our guest talked about what was needed for the next step so once again, don’t miss what Dallas had to say on the procurement topic. Support for the lunar Gateway station was brought up along with lunar return timeline considerations. This was followed with an email from a listener asking if the lunar Gateway was a done deal with NASA given many people don't support it. Our guest said it was the official NASA program of record but there was nothing stopping private companies from going directly to the Moon. He identified some of the challenges in doing that which included transportation, costs and economics, and still pending technology challenges plus uncertainty with regulatory issues. In his repose, he mentioned Bigelow wanting to get the B330 inflatable hab on the lunar surface. Propellant depots and other service missions were mentioned. Dallas was then asked about possible international support for humans to the Moon. Our guest answered in the affirmatives and cited the European Moon Village as an example.
We fielded several email listener questions asking Dallas about international space agencies and the Moon, especially China, Russia, and India. Japan and Canada were included by the guest. A ten year time line for routine lunar transportation was suggested . Don’t miss what Dallas said about this timeline, plus he talked about the NASA Artemis project. SpaceX was added to the mix in this discussion given there were also questions about private missions to the Moon compared to government lunar missions.
Later in the first segment, listener Bob wanted to know how Dallas assessed the likelihood of free standing orbital habs coming into reality. In addition, another question focused on what was less challenging, going to the Moon or developing the free space habitat. Listen carefully to this discussion as there might be some surprises for you given what Dallas had to say concerning a free station project compared to going to the lunar surface. This conversation let to Dallas talking about the work of Al Globus and his low radiation LEO station that we have covered on The Space Show multiple times in recent years Please note that Al will soon be returning as a guest to The Space Show on Oct. 11. In talking about the lunar surface return and free space stations, the most challenging question had to do with who will pay for all of it. Economic viability remains a huge issue and challenge. In fact, Dallas listed the top challenges with the first one being the economic challenge.
Nearing the end of the first segment, Dallas was asked about his specific concerns regarding China. Don’t miss what our guest had to say but do note that his concerns focused on rules of the road, laws and regulations and making sure nations were free to act in space and with the Moon. In fact, don’t miss all of what Dallas said in his China comments. Another listener asked Dallas why we needed to go to the Moon first to go to Mars. After Dallas responded, we got in another question before the break asking Dallas for his thoughts on politics and extreme partisanship interfering with the proposed lunar return. Dallas said it was highly possible but listen to all of what Dallas had to say about this issue.
For the second segment, we led by asking Dallas about the CSDC space tug under design, payloads to the Moon or E-M L1, lunar landers, and the super large private rockets being built by SpaceX and Blue Origin. Dallas brought up the subject of the need for lunar landing pads given the problem of lunar landing rocket exhaust dust ejecta. Dallas described the problem and the dangers with the ejecta. Dallas gave a shout out to Dr. Philip Metzger who has done much work on this issue. The lunar landing pad issue was discussed thoroughly in this segment and it is an important problem needing a fix. I’m certain we will be hearing more about it with Space Show guests on future programs.
Later, I asked Dallas about the subject of models that came up on the SSI Conference review program with John and Kim. Dallas explained that the models were not the plastic kit models many of us remember from childhood. The models talked about were computer design and graphic models for simulation and design purposes. I suggested lunar flight and landing hardware plastic models might be good sellers. Who knows, maybe down the road we will see such models in gift and hobby stores or other places where one can buy model planes, rockets, cars, etc.
Free space settlements came up for more discussion. Dallas talked about free space constraints including the need for both basic technology and space transportation to and from Earth. Our guest mentioned the work on the low radiation LEO idea proposed by Al Globus. I asked the question about market feedback given this particular concept has been discussed in lots of venues with lots of papers, including on The Space Show going back to 2013. I suggested that the lack of market feedback was telling us something about the potential acceptance of the concept. This prompted listener and previous Space Show guest on a show with Al, Tom Marotta, to call to clarify what was being said by Dallas and myself. Tom’s was an important phone call so I urge you to carefully listen to him and this discussion. In addition, be sure to note what was said about the need for viable space transportation because nothing will happen without it. Dallas mentioned that he recently wrote a Space Review article on the need for reliable space transportation. You can read his article here: www.thespacereview.com/article/3776/1.
Dallas was asked for his summary, takeaway points, and for anything additional he wanted to add to the discussion. He talked about technologies, where each of them stood, plus he talked about liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuels. He said technologies had been ready for flight testing since 2011-2012 but had not yet happened for financial reasons since nobody is there to make the investments. This was an important commentary so be sure to pay attention to it. Such demo flights are needed. Dallas was looking forward to a 2020 timeline for many of them. Before ending our program, Dallas said these were choke point problems. Be sure to hear all of the closing comments offered up by our guest.
Please post your questions/comments on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Dallas through The Space Show or his website, https://csdc.space.