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Guest: Dr. George Sower; Topics: the Colorado School of Mines program on space resource utilization, XCOR bankruptcy, The Moon as a stepping stone to Mars. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com.
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We welcomed Dr. George Sowers back to the show for this 63 minute one segment discussion on a variety of topics. We started off with George introducing us to the new and unique academic program now available at the Colorado School of Mines which focuses on space resource utilization. George described the graduate program, the classes he teaches, and answered several listener questions about the program. One listener emails asked if the class was ahead of its time since space resource utilization was not really happening and probably a decade or more off into the future. Don't miss how George responded to this series of questions. Let us know if you agree with George in that the time is ripe right now for such an academic program. He talked about the role of systems engineering in the program and in space development.
A question I asked dealt with the availability of cutting edge course material or was Mines making it up as one goes along. He said it was a combination of using existing resources and he said there were plenty of high quality resources available for using and developing. I also asked if the department was connected to the National Space Council and will it play a role in helping to develop space policy, including commercial space policy.
Marshall was our first caller. He wanted to know if the new program would focus on the actual resources needed for a settlement. He listed multiple examples of what he was talking about so don't miss what he inquired about and what both George and Marshall talked about. George also listed some of the costs but said it was very hard to pin them down when actual quantities or power are needed but the hardware, transportation and other items were not readily known at this time and that complicates the question that Marshall was asking,
Listener Cathy asked George if the cancellation of the Google Lunar XPrize was a setback to commercial space, going to the Moon and the development of lunar resources. George did not think it would be major but listen to his full answer in reply to Cathy. There were several questions asking George about space resource usage, the proper role of government in developing and paying for the development costs, public private partnership potentials and more.
Doug sent in a note to inquire about lunar polar water and organics that might be used for propellant, drinking, sanitation, irrigation, oxygen, plant food, and organic materials such as plastics. He wanted to know if anyone had calculated the percent launch mass reduction that would be achieved once those volatiles were developed as a space resource. Don't miss what George said in response to Doug's question. Doug followed his question up with another about ice harvesting and telerobotics being simulated in a terrestrial lab. Don't miss what George said in response to this question.
Floyd called from Tacoma wanting to know about insitu resource utilization. He wondered if other plans or concepts were around dealing with the same type of subject. Near the end of the program, Jim in Boston sent in a note asking about the XCOR-ULA relationship and the XCOR The XCOR question was followed by a question about the TRL for the needed robotic mining equipment and technology for space resource development. Again, don't miss what George had to say in response to this question. Doug called in another question and then just before the program ended. George was asked if he thought going to the Moon was in reality a stepping stone for going to Mars. George definitely agreed with that statement but listen to all of what he had to say on the subject.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog. If you want to reach Dr. Sowers, you can do so through the Colorado School of Mines faculty page or me.