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Dr. Doug Plata, Monday, 6-30-14 July 1, 2014

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Dr. Doug Plata, Monday, 6-30-14


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Guest:  Dr. Doug Plata.  Topics:  Lunar Cots & cislunar space development, policy, Mars, & much more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed back Dr. Doug Plata for this two hour two minute discussion.  NOTE THAT THREE SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTS FROM DOUG WILL BE UPLOADED TO THE BLOG.  During the first segment, Doug introduced us to the topics he discussed at the recent ISDC conference in Los Angeles.  He talked about SpaceX and both the Falcon 9 & Heavy, Lunar ice, hollow ice, a concept he calls Moon for Mars, and more.  He also suggested that the Moon was not necessary for a Mars mission.  Additionally, while he certainly support a return to the Moon, he does not believe bringing back the VSE and Constellation is the way to do it.  I asked him how he got is interest in and start in space advocacy about 4 years ago.  Doug told us an interesting story, including how he was influenced by the LCROSS mission.  Michael Listner called to ask Doug about the WHY for the missions & projects he was advocating.  This was an interesting discussion though Michael got cut off due to a glitch at his end.  Tony wanted to know if Doug might be considering a start-up around his ideas in the near future.  Other first segment topics included ISRU, what makes space sustainable, and gaining the public interest and trust.  I asked him what among his ISDC topics was the least popular.  Listen for the answer.

In the second segment, Doug said people could find the lunar cots petition at http://www.lunarcots.com.  Doug addressed a question submitted by Tony regarding the use of water for radiation shielding.  Doug corrected some misunderstandings from his previous comment & went through the calculations in support of his conclusions.  We talked about a recent Mars One announcement for payloads for their planned 2018 mission.  Doug talked lunar cots, telerobotics, & benefits which he had sent me on an earlier show.  It is the three benefits documents that I will upload to the blog.  Doug had more to say on LCROSS & its impact on him.  He also told us about his newly made NASA HQ and commercial space contacts regarding lunar cots and cislunar.  As the program was ending, he talked about doing a special Flagstaff conference next year with a media event at nearby Meteor Crater.  Several times during our discussion, Doug cited Hops Blog for lunar and Mars lander/hopper ideas.  See http://hopsblog-hop.blogspot.com.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog.  You can reach Doug through me or his lunar cots page.






1. Michael J. Listner - July 4, 2014


I just listened to the show up to the point where I had difficulties and wanted to respond to your question about sustainability and the ISS. I do not agree that the ISS is a good example of a space endeavor requiring public support in order to be sustainable over multiple administrations because the ISS is a unique creature in that its construction and operation is governed by a legally-binding treaty (the IGA), which was started during the H.W. Bush Administration and signed into law in 1998 during the Clinton Administration. Once signed, the United States became legally bound to support the ISS, which means Congress must allocate funding and successive administrations must include support within their respective space policies. Therefore, because of this legal mandate, the Executive Branch must continue to support the ISS for the duration of the IGA regardless of public sentiment and sustainability becomes a creature of law instead of policy and public support.

2. Tom Hanson - July 3, 2014

Thanks to Dr. Doug for an interesting and inspiring show! Your experiment with frozen ice caught my attention, and in hopes you will try again, I would like to offer two thoughts that came to mind:
First, the Space Show currently is not represented by anyone from the Eskimo community, but in the heritage of that community is a thousand year tradition of making igloos out of blocks of snow. Another suggestion comes from the (somewhat famous) “Burning Man” festival in the American Southwest. Geodesic domes are a popular feature of “Burning Man”, and I am pretty sure the designs would work well on the Moon or any similar open-vacuum body. You can download free plans for geodesic domes and even spheres, at this address: http://www.desertdomes.com. Thus, perhaps you could inspire a person or a group to build a “radiation safety dome” at “Burning Man”, and mount bags of water on the frame, to illustrate the principles of how the system might be build away from Earth.

3. jimjxr - July 2, 2014

I like COTS model, but I’m not sure about this proposal:
1. I assume for COTS to work, you can’t dictate technical solutions, instead you need to let participating companies to have the freedom to choose whatever that suits them while at the same time accomplish the government’s objectives. So I’m not sure mixing in a particular technical solution (reusable lunar spacecraft based on Centaur) is a good idea.
2. I think the objectives of a COTS program should be the most important thing to decide, I’m not sure if the Lunar COTS proposal will leave this to NASA or not. As it is, it’s not clear what the objective is. Is it about cheap propellant/water? Or in space reusable transportation? Or human presence on the Moon? Colonization of the Moon?
3. If the objective is to have cheap propellant/water (based on my limited understanding of the topic, this is the most important reason for building cis-lunar economy), I wonder if the Moon needs to be included at all, and dictating the paths (transportation, surface, cargo, crew) basically assumes human presence on the Moon, thus do not fits the objective well.

DougSpace - July 2, 2014

Hi Jim. To be clear, Lunar COTS is different from my Cis-lunar One concept in the same way that COTS was different than SpaceX’s Falcon-Dragon solutions. COTS and Lunar COTS are funding mechanisms whereas Falcon-Dragon and Cis-lunar One are example solutions to the (L)COTS programs. Perhaps I could have made that more clear.

I give details about the Cis-lunar One concept as an example that solutions are possible because I don’t want people learning about the Lunar COTS proposals to say, “Go to the Moon? Harvest ice? Is that even possible? What about delta-v, big expensive landers, power sources, communications, equipment breakdown, hammering permafrost, cryogenic storage, etc, etc, etc”. Without some example scenario that addresses these issues people could convince themselves that the goals of LCOTS is not technically feasible. Some people need to understand that Lunar COTS is possible if they are going to support such a policy”. However Cis-lunar One isn’t the only possible solution. Others include the Spudis-Lavoie Plan, Shackleton, SFF, and whatever Moon Express or others may have in mind.

If you look at the Lunar COTS petition at LunarCOTS.com, you will see that it outlines only the highest level of requirements and doesn’t dictate the specifics.

> As it is, it’s not clear what the objective is. Is it about cheap propellant/water? Or in space reusable transportation? Or human presence on the Moon? Colonization of the Moon?

To be clear, I am using the “Lunar COTS” term to represent the four programs listed in the petition. Really I mean a set of public-private programs for the initial development of a cis-lunar transportstion system based upon the harvesting of lunar ice including a human lunar component.

It is very similar to the current public-private programs. What are their purposes?
– COTS – Commercial transportation to LEO
– CRS – Commercial delivery of cargo to LEO
– Commercial Crew – Commercial delivery of crew to LEO.
So, for “Lunar COTS” it is the same thing for cis-lunar and lunar surface locations.

The Commercial Crew Program is about sending NASA astronauts to the ISS and isn’t explicitly about sending sovereign clients to a future Bigelow station, none-the-less the former enables the later. Likewise, Commercial Cis-lunar Transportation Service wouldn’t explicitly be about lunar settlement but it would certainly enable it.

I believe it important to specify the locations of the sourcing of in-space propellant because, if it turns out to be easier to source it from asteroids and hence the Moon isn’t developed then it may delay the establishment of a permanently crewed lunar base. I think that that is important for some of the reasons listed in my Benefits-NASA document. However, I now believe that the Commercial Cis-lunar Supply Service should also have a specified amount that NASA would also pay for propellant from asteroidal sources because that source deserves to be developed also.

I hope that this helps clarify things.

jimjxr - July 3, 2014

Thanks for the explanation Doug, yes, this makes it clear. I guess you can label Cis-lunar One as a reference design or some similar term commonly used in proposals like this.

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