Int'l Dinner & Meeting

Exploration, Resource Development, and Settlement of the Inner Solar System: Rewards and Challenges

William A. Ambrose


Debates still continue over which near-term destinations for future space exploration—the Moon, the Asteroids, or Mars—should be chosen for human habitation and resource development. Each of these destinations has its own risks and rewards. Improved technology in space-transportation systems and in situ resource utilization (ISRU) can support an expanded human presence on each of these possible space destinations. Water ice is superabundant on Mars but is also present in Polar Regions on the Moon, as well as in comets and volatile-rich asteroids. M-type asteroids contain a variety of precious metals such as platinum and palladium. Lunar metals such as titanium, magnesium, and iron occur in basaltic mare, and along with helium-3 and hydrogen, can be mined with currently available technology. Environmental constraints on humans in space (microgravity, radiation and temperature flux, absence of atmosphere or atmospheric toxicity, and absence of soil organics) can be overcome through engineered habitation structures and terraforming. Although microgravity on asteroids poses challenges for mining, these problems can be overcome through advanced materials-collection with mass-drivers for moving refined materials into near-earth or Cis-Lunar orbit.  Orbital depots for fuel and life-support materials have benefits for the economics of launch and transit missions and can also serve as temporary accumulation areas for materials transport to Earth’s surface. Currently envisioned, shallow-subsurface habitations on the Moon and Mars can allow humans to cope with hostile radiation environments on planetary surfaces. Future advances in technology and planetary engineering, involving surficial domed structures and ultimately terraforming, can potentially greatly expand human accessibility to planetary terrains. For each resource or environmental challenge in space there are existing technologies that are fully capable of supporting a sustained human presence in space.

Location: Brookhaven Country Club
3333 Golfing Green Drive
Farmers Branch , TX 75234

Date: Dec. 13, 2017, 5:30 p.m. - Dec. 13, 2017, 8:30 p.m.