[Paleopsych] Re: Commercial ISS and Lunar Resupply Options

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Thu Nov 24 03:50:34 UTC 2005

The  NASA report is extremely exciting.  Congratulations on  stimulating the 
space agency to think commercial. 
The  report leaves out one tried and true component that could help achieve 
its  goals--the X-Prize.  A series of X-Prize contests leading to low-earth  
orbit, fuel depots in space, and eventually the moon and beyond may prove far  
more effective in mobilizing talent than inviting bids.   
The  X-Prize competitors and sponsors have proven that a competition  between 
technologies forced to show their stuff is far more  convincing, exciting, 
and effective, than a battle between batches of  paperwork. 
NASA and the  Business of Space  
Date  Released: Friday, November 18, 2005
Source: _NASA HQ_ (http://www.nasa.gov/)    
American  Astronautical Society 52nd Annual Conference
Michael D. Griffin 
NASA  Administrator 
15 November 2005  
When President Bush  announced the Vision for Space Exploration in January 
2004, he made many  specific points, including one which has been little noted, 
but which we here  all believe; that the pursuit of the Vision will enhance 
America's economic,  scientific and security interests. He also made it clear 
that the first step in  the plan was to use the Space Shuttle to complete the 
assembly of the  International Space Station (ISS), after which the ISS would be 
used to further  the goals of exploration beyond low Earth orbit. These 
issues are all closely  related, and I believe it is time to discuss  in more 
detail how the ISS will be used to accomplish them, and how it will fit  into a 
broader strategy for 21st century space exploration of the Moon, Mars and  beyond 
in a way that will spur commerce, advance scientific knowledge, and  expand 
humanity's horizons.  
We are entering the  dawn of the true space age. Our nation has the 
opportunity to lead the way. It  is an opportunity we are eager to pursue, and one 
which we are unwilling to  postpone. But the exploration  of the solar system 
cannot be what we want it to be as an enterprise borne  solely by the American 
taxpayer, or even by the taxpayers of the nations willing  to join with us in 
this enterprise.   
If we are to make the  expansion and development of the space frontier an 
integral part of what it is  that human societies do, then these activities must, 
as quickly as possible,  assume an economic dimension as well. 
Government-directed space activity must  become a lesser rather than a greater part of what 
humans do in space. To this  end, it is up to us at NASA to use the challenge 
of the Vision for Space  Exploration to foster the commercial opportunities 
which are inherent to this  exciting endeavor. Our strategy to implement the 
Vision must, and we believe  does, have the potential to open a genuine and 
sustainable era of space  commerce. And the International Space Station will 
provide the first glimpses  into this new era.  
Before we pursue  this thought further, let us summarize a few statistics 
from the ISS program. On  November 2nd, we marked the fifth year of consecutive 
human occupancy of the  Station. The Station has hosted 97 visitors from ten 
countries in its  approximately 425 cubic meters, a volume roughly the size of a 
typical  three-bedroom home. Of these, 29 have been crew members of the 
twelve ISS  expeditions which have flown to date. With the most recent spacewalk by 
 Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev, 63 
 have been conducted in support of ISS assembly, totaling nearly 380 hours. 
And  through the partnership we have with 15 other nations, we have learned to 
work  together on an incredibly complex systems engineering project. While it  
certainly has not always gone smoothly, the simple fact of its accomplishment 
 has been an amazing feat. My oft-stated view is that the international  
partnership is, in fact, the most important long-term benefit to be derived from  
the ISS program. I think it is a harbinger of what we can accomplish in the  
future as we move forward to even more ambitious objectives in space.   
Indeed, the value of  this international collaboration was endorsed once 
again by a recent vote in  Congress, which lessened certain restrictions placed on 
our ability to cooperate  with Russia in the arena of manned spaceflight. 
This Congressional action helps  to ensure the continuous presence of American 
astronauts on the station. It  continues to reflect our government's commitment 
to nonproliferation objectives,  while recognizing the value of international 
cooperation in space exploration.   
So, how can the ISS  that we are building today help us to move beyond low 
Earth orbit tomorrow?   
To begin, we are  focusing human research on ISS on the highest risks to crew 
health and other  issues we will face on long exploratory missions. This 
research will help us  understand the effects of long duration spaceflight on the 
human body, such as  bone and muscle loss, so that we can develop medical 
standards and protocols to  manage such risks. We have already had some successful 
anecdotal experience  among ISS crewmembers with exercise countermeasures. 
Perhaps ISS-based research  will one day help us to evaluate the efficacy of 
drugs to counter osteoporosis,  or long-term exposure to the radiation 
environment, or to test advanced  radiation detectors. The station will help us learn to 
deal with crew stress on  long missions, to enable them to remain emotionally 
With the ISS as a  testbed, we can learn to develop the medical technologies, 
including small and  reliable medical sensors and new telemedicine 
techniques, needed for missions  far from home. A milestone in that arena was achieved a 
year ago, when the  journal Radiology published its first research paper 
submitted directly from the  Station, ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke's account of 
the first use of  ultrasound in space for a shoulder examination.  
The ISS can host,  and test, developmental versions of the new lox/methane 
engines we will need for  the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), and many other 
systems that we will need for  Mars. These include the development and 
verification of environmental control,  life support, and monitoring technologies, air 
revitalization, thermal control  and multiphase flow technologies, and research 
into flammability and fire  safety. As I have often said, when we set out for 
Mars, it will be like sealing  a crew into a submarine and telling them not 
to ask for help or return to port  for several years. We can't do that today. 
We have to be able to do it before  people can go to Mars. We'll learn to do it 
on the ISS, and later on the Moon.  And so, fundamentally, the ISS will allow 
us to learn to live and work in space.   
And even though this  research is focused on the tasks associated with 
setting up research bases on  the Moon and preparing the way for Mars exploration, 
it will also benefit  millions of people here on Earth. What we learn about 
bone loss mitigation and  cardiovascular deconditioning, the development of 
remote monitoring and medical  care, and water reclamation and environmental 
characterization technology  obviously has broader benefits. One certainly would not 
build a space station to  achieve these goals. But given that we have it, we 
intend to maximize the  science return from ISS in ways that will benefit both 
space exploration and our  society at large.  
But now let us turn  to what I believe will be an even greater benefit of the 
ISS, and that is its  role in the development of space as an economic arena.  
In order that we may  devote as much of NASA's budget as possible to the 
cutting edge of space  exploration, we must seek to reduce the cost of all things 
routine. Here in  2005, the definition of "routine" certainly should include 
robust, reliable, and  cost effective access to space for at least small and 
medium class payloads.  Unfortunately, it does not, and frankly, this is not an 
area where it is  reasonable to expect government to excel. Within the 
boundaries of available  technology, when we want an activity to be performed 
reliably and efficiently,  we in our society look to the competitive pressures of the 
free market to  achieve these goals. In space, these pressures have been 
notably lacking, in  part because the space "market" has historically been both 
specialized and  small. There have been exceptions – notably in the 
communications satellite  market – but the key word here is "exceptions". Broadly 
speaking, the market for  space services has never enjoyed either the breadth or the 
scale of competition  which has led, for example, to today's highly efficient 
air transportation  services. Without a strong, identifiable market, the 
competitive environment  necessary to achieve the advantages we associate with the 
free market simply  cannot arise.  
I believe that with  the advent of the ISS, there will exist for the first 
time a strong,  identifiable market for "routine" transportation service to and 
from LEO, and  that this will be only the first step in what will be a huge 
opportunity for  truly commercial space enterprise, inherent to the Vision for 
Space Exploration.  I believe that the ISS provides a tremendous opportunity to 
promote commercial  space ventures that will help us meet our exploration 
objectives and at the same  time create new jobs and new industry.   
The clearly  identifiable market provided by the ISS is that for regular 
cargo delivery and  return, and crew rotation, especially after we retire the 
shuttle in 2010, but  earlier should the capability become available. We want to 
be able to buy these  services from American industry to the fullest extent 
possible. We believe that  when we engage the engine of competition, these 
services will be provided in a  more cost-effective fashion than when the government 
has to do it. To that end,  we have established a commercial crew/cargo 
project office, and assigned to it  the task of stimulating commercial enterprise 
in space by asking American  entrepreneurs to provide innovative, cost 
effective commercial cargo and crew  transportation services to the space station.  
This fall, NASA will  post a draft announcement which seeks proposals from 
industry for flight  demonstrations to the International Space Station of any 
combination of the  following: external unpressurized cargo delivery and 
disposal, internal  pressurized cargo delivery and disposal, internal pressurized 
cargo delivery and  recovery, and crew transport.  
As these  capabilities are demonstrated in the years ahead, we will solicit 
proposals for  ongoing ISS transportation services from commercial providers. 
This announcement  offers the opportunity for industry to develop capabilities 
that, once proven,  NASA will purchase with great regularity, just as we 
regularly purchase launch  services for our robotic spacecraft today. Once the 
announcement is on the  street, we will receive proposals by late January, with 
the intent to execute  agreements by May of next year.  
This competition  will be open to emerging and established companies, with 
foreign content  allowed, consistent with American law and policy. Proposals can 
include any mix  of existing or new designs and hardware. NASA does not have 
a preferred  solution. Our requirements will be couched, to the maximum extent 
possible, in  terms of performance objectives, not process. Process 
requirements which remain  will reflect matters of fundamental safety of life and 
property, or other basic  matters. It will not be government "business as usual". 
If those of you in  industry find it to be otherwise, I expect to hear from you 
on the matter.   
With this plan, and  providing of course that we retain the support of the 
Congress necessary to  carry it out, we will put about a half-billion dollars in 
play over the five  years to promote competition that is good for the private 
sector and good for  the public interest. I'm confident that this kind of 
financial incentive, on  different terms than are usual with NASA, or indeed with 
any government entity,  will result in the emergence of substantial 
commercial providers. Such successes  will, in their turn, serve as a justification for 
even greater use of such  "non-traditional" acquisition methods. As I have 
said in other venues, my use of  the words "non-traditional" here is somewhat 
tongue-in-cheek, because what we  are talking about is completely traditional in 
the bulk of our economy which is  not driven by government procurement. In 
this larger economy, when there exist  customers with specific needs and the 
financial resources to satisfy these  needs, suppliers compete avidly to meet 
them. We need more of this in the space  enterprise.  
But as stated  earlier, this is only the first step. An explicit goal of our 
exploration  systems architecture was to provide an avenue for the creation of 
a substantial  space economy by suitably leveraging government investment to 
meet its stated  mission requirements. The architecture we  announced in 
September was designed so that NASA would provide, but would  provide only, the 
essential transportation elements and infrastructure to get  beyond low Earth 
orbit. The heavy lift launchers and crew vehicles necessary to  journey beyond 
LEO cannot, in anything like the near future, be provided by any  entity other 
than NASA, on behalf of the U.S. government. The analogy I have  used elsewhere 
is that NASA will build the "interstate highway" that will allow  us to 
return to the Moon, and to go to Mars.  
We as a nation once had the  systems to build this "interstate highway" 
leading out into the solar system, we  should have retained and evolved them, but 
we did not. So we need to rebuild  them. But the "highways" themselves are not, 
and are  not supposed to be, the interesting part. What is interesting are 
the  destinations and, particularly to the point of the present discussion, the  
service stations, hotels, and other businesses and accommodations that we 
will  find at the "exit ramps" of our future "interstate highways" in space. It 
is  here that a robust commercial market can develop to support our exploration 
 goals, and eventually to go beyond them. I think we are at the start of  
something big, somewhat akin to what we saw with the personal computer 25 years  
To my point, NASA's  exploration architecture does what it must. It fulfills 
the mission required of  it by the President, according to the terms of a 
major speech and written  policy. It does so in a fashion which some have labeled 
as "boring" or "lacking  pizzazz", but which others have observed makes 
efficient use of the building  blocks that we as a nation own today, and in which 
the pieces "fit together like  a fine Swiss watch". I believe these seemingly 
divergent views are merely two  sides are the same coin, reflecting the fact 
that the plan delivers what it  must, without including what it need not. Nothing 
else is acceptable in these  fiscally challenging times.  
But the building  blocks of our architecture could easily be used to 
accomplish much more, with  the right leverage from commercial providers. To see how 
this is so, observe  first that our "1.5 launch solution" separates the smaller 
crew launch from that  of the heavy, high- value cargo, both on 
Shuttle-derived launch vehicle  variants. While this approach allows us to meet lunar 
return mission  requirements with U.S. government systems – no external entities 
are in the  critical path for mission accomplishment – it does not exclude such 
entities,  and indeed provides several "hooks" and "scars" by which their 
services can be  used to facilitate or enhance the mission.  
By the time we are  ready to return to the Moon, the ISS will have been 
completed and will be in  receipt of routine commercial resupply and crew rotation 
service for, we hope,  several years. So, if the plan for stimulating the 
development of ISS commercial  crew rotation capability is successful, it becomes 
possible to envision the crew  launch phase of the lunar mission being carried 
out on commercial systems. This  would be a service we could purchase 
commercially, leaving the very heavy lift  requirements to the government system, for 
which it is less likely that there  will be other commercial applications 
during this period.  
Whether or not this  occurs, other options are also possible. Astute 
observers will note that the  Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle (SDHLV) that we have 
proposed is not, as a  rocket, being optimally utilized for its lunar mission. 
This is because some of  the fuel in the so-called "Earth departure stage" is 
used to lift the lunar  payload into Earth orbit, but additional fuel must 
yet be retained for the  translunar ignition burn of over 3 km/s. From a purely 
architectural point of  view, the SDHLV is an expensive vehicle, most aptly 
utilized for lifting only  expensive cargo, such as the man-rated systems it 
carries. But in our  architecture, some of its lift capacity must be utilized to 
carry fuel into low  Earth orbit. This is unsatisfying, because when on the 
ground, fuel is about the  cheapest material employed in any aspect of the space 
business. Its value in  orbit (at least several thousand dollars per pound) 
is almost completely a  function of its location rather than intrinsic to its 
nature. In contrast, the  value of, say, the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM) 
brought up on the  heavy-lifter will be well over $100 K per pound, most of 
which represents its  intrinsic cost. The additional value it acquires when 
transported to its new  position in LEO remains a small part of the total value.  
Logically, then, we  should seek to use the SDHLV only for the highest-value 
cargo, and specifically  we should desire to place fuel in orbit by the 
cheapest means possible, in  whatever manner this can be accomplished, whether of 
high reliability or not.  However, in deciding to embark on a lunar mission, we 
cannot afford the  consequential damage of not having fuel available when 
needed. Recognizing that  fact, our mission architecture hauls its own Earth- 
departure fuel up from the  ground for each trip. But if there were a fuel depot 
available on orbit, one  capable of being replenished at any time, the Earth 
departure stage could after  refueling carry significantly more payload to the 
Moon, maximizing the utility  of the inherently expensive SDHLV for carrying 
high-value cargo.   
But NASA's  architecture does not feature a fuel depot. Even if it could be 
afforded within  the budget constraints which we will likely face – and it 
cannot – it is  philosophically the wrong thing for the government to be doing. It 
is not  "necessary"; it is not on the critical path of things we "must do" to 
return  astronauts to the Moon. It is a highly valuable enhancement, but the 
mission is  not hostage to its availability. It is exactly the type of 
enterprise which  should be left to industry and to the marketplace.  
So let us look  forward ten or more years, to a time when we are closer to 
resuming human  exploration of the Moon. The value of such a commercially 
operated fuel depot in  low Earth orbit at that time is easy to estimate. Such a 
depot would support at  least two planned missions to the Moon each year. The 
architecture which we have  advanced places about 150 metric tons in LEO, 25 MT 
on the Crew Launch Vehicle  and 125 MT on the heavy-lifter. Of the total, about 
half will be propellant in  the form of liquid oxygen and hydrogen, required 
for the translunar injection to  the Moon. If the Earth departure stage could 
be refueled on-orbit, the crew and  all high-value hardware could be launched 
using a single SDHLV, and all of this  could be sent to the Moon.  
There are several  ways in which the value of this extra capability might be 
calculated, but at a  conservatively low government price of $10,000/kg for 
payload in LEO, 250 MT of  fuel for two missions per year is worth $2.5 B, at 
government rates. If a  commercial provider can supply fuel at a lower cost, 
both the government and the  contractor will benefit. This is a non-trivial 
market, and it will only grow as  we continue to fly. The value of fuel for a 
single Mars mission may be several  billion dollars by itself. Once industry 
becomes fully convinced that the United  States, in company with its international 
partners, is headed out into the solar  system for good, I believe that the 
economics of such a business will attract  multiple competitors, to the benefit 
of both stockholders and taxpayers.   
Best of all, such an  approach enables us to leverage the value of the 
government system without  putting commercial fuel deliveries in the critical path. 
If the depot is there  and is full, we can use it. But with the architecture 
we have advanced, we can  conduct missions to the Moon without it. The 
government does not need to have  oversight, or even insight, into the quality and 
reliability of the fuel  delivery service. If fuel is not delivered, the loss 
belongs to the operator,  not to the government. If fuel is delivered and 
maintained in storage, the  contractors are paid, whether or not the government flies 
its intended missions.  If long-term delivery contracts are negotiated, and 
the provider learns to  effect deliveries more efficiently, the gain is his, 
not the government's. Since  fuel is completely fungible, it can be left to the 
provider to determine the  optimum origin, size and method of a delivering it. 
And finally, though I would  rather not do it, it is even possible that we 
could develop such a market in  stages, with the first fuel tank provided by the 
government, and then turned  over to a commercial provider to store and 
maintain fuel for future missions,  and to expand the tank farm as warranted by the 
To maintain and  operate the fuel depot, periodic human support may be 
needed. Living space in  Earth orbit may be required; if so, this presents yet 
another commercial  opportunity for people like Bob Bigelow, who is already working 
on developing  space habitats. So the logistics needs of the fuel depot may 
provide more of the  same opportunities that we will pioneer with ISS.  
Fuel and other  consumables will not always be most needed where they are 
stored. Will orbital  transfer and delivery services develop, with reusable 
"space tugs" ferrying  goods from centralized stockpiles to other locations?  
The fuel depot  operator will need power for refrigeration and other support 
systems. This might  well be left to specialty suppliers who know nothing of 
the storage and  maintenance of cryogenic tank farms, but who know a lot about 
how to generate  and store power. Could these be standard power modules, 
developed and delivered  for a fee to locations specified by the user?  
In the course of  conducting many fuel replenishment missions and associated 
operations,  commercial launch and orbital systems of known and presumably 
high reliability  will be developed and evolved. Government mission planners will 
be able to take  advantage of these systems, which will become "known 
quantities" by virtue of  their track record rather than through the at best mixed 
blessings of government  development oversight.  
There will also be a  private sector role in supporting a variety of lunar 
surface systems and  infrastructure, including lunar habitats, power and science 
facilities, surface  rovers, logistics and resupply, communications and 
navigation, and in situ  resource utilization equipment. There may or may not be 
gold on the Moon – I'm  not sure we care – but we may well witness a 21st 
century gold rush of sorts  when entrepreneurs learn to roast oxygen from the lunar 
soil, saving a major  portion of the cost of bringing fuel to the lunar 
surface. Will a time come when  it is more economical to ship liquid oxygen from 
the lunar surface to low Earth  orbit, then to bring it up from Earth?  
This will all start  to become "really real" in 10 years or so. As I see it, 
these are exactly the  kinds of enterprises to which government is poorly 
suited, but which in the  hands of the right entrepreneur can earn that person a 
cover on Fortune  magazine. But it will take enlightened government management 
to bring it about,  management as much in the form of what not to do, as to 
do. In the coming years  and decades, NASA must focus on its core government 
role as a provider of  infrastructure broadly applicable to the common good, and 
too expensive for any  single business entity to develop. NASA must remain on 
the frontier, and must  conscientiously architect its plans to favor the 
inclusion of entrepreneurs  through arms-length transactions wherever possible, 
restricting the use of  classic "prime contracts" to situations where they are 
the right tool, not the  default tool.  
With the beginning  of space station operations five years ago, we are now at 
a point children born  at the beginning of the 21st century will live their 
lives knowing that there  will always be people living and working in space. 
And the number of  people who will be engaged in such activity will grow by 
leaps and bounds if we  in government are faithful in executing our role in 
helping the private sector  to step up to these new opportunities. I hope there are 
many entrepreneurs in  this audience who have the vision to help us help them 
pioneer the commercial  space frontier. You, and all those engaged in the 
quest that we are undertaking,  have my sincere thanks and appreciation.   

Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Recent Visiting  Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; 
Core Faculty  Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Institute for 
Accelerating Change ; executive  editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International  Paleopsychology Project, see: 
for two chapters from  
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,  
see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The  Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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