Broadcast 1991 (Special Edition)

08 Apr 2013 Dr. Philip Metzger
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Guest: Dr. Philip Metzger. Topics: Starting industry in space for the coming space resource revolution re space mining robotics & more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, 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. We welcomed Dr. Philip Metzger to the program to discuss the topic of a coming space resource revolution because of the prospects for a rapid advancement of robotic industry in space. Please visit his website at During our first segment of this two hour five minute program, Dr. Metzger explained the need for space resource usage as a result of a growing Earth population, increasing energy demands, industrialization & an overall feeling of being "squeezed" regarding future demand and resource usage. From this point, he took us through the technologies, advancements and some visionary plans for setting up a commercial industry in space for space mining robotics and ISRU technologies which are available today. Dr. Metzger was clear in telling us that the NASA charter was about exploration, not starting up space industry. We then talked about the ways that industry can access the advance technology created by the NASA exploration and science programs. Our guest provided us with several robotic examples, including the possibility of making heat shields from Phobos materials which could go a long way toward making a Mars mission affordable. We talked about technology readiness levels, TRL 1-9. Phil explained what the various levels meant & how the technology development is passed on to the next development group as the level advances. I asked our guest to describe a typical day in his lab. Starting at 6:45AM, Dr. Metzger described his duties and functions and those of the rest of the lab workers. As you will hear, it’s a mixture of administrative, design, computer work, testing, retesting, & equipment manufacturing. 3D Printing was discussed in some detail and was actually a discussion topic throughout the entire program. We talked about our being able to repair robotics as compared to building the robotics to avoid needing repair. Listener Mike sent in an email to inquire about 3D printing, teleoperated & AI robotics for self sustaining lunar/asteroid economies. He also wanted to know how human space exploration fit into the robotic model. Phil had much to say in response to Mike so don't miss this discussion. Near the end of this segment, we talked about robotics & the communications time delay, even for the Moon, and what this means for HSF & robotic development. Another concept introduced to us was that of self-sustaining robots that do not need to continue being launched to their destination! Near the end of this segment, Phil introduced us to Lizard Scale Robotics & the different categories going up the scale of robotic development to the top level human scale. In our second segment, Doug called in from S. California to inquire about starting an affordable industry, financing, and the use of lunar propellant ice. This took us to a discussion of setting up profitable ventures for space industry development. Phil talked about a new spaceport concept starting with spaceports here on the ground, then in LEO, on the Moon, & then moving out to Phobos. For a profitable venture, he did say the time line was still too long for capital investment so we discussed public/private partnerships. Also in this segment, we talked hardware designs, the need to start with low technology, even clumsy robots and evolve upward, but avoiding launches & most everything being made in space. We talked about launch capabilities, heavy lift, & getting a specific mass to where it needed to go. Closing the business case came up & our guest talked about the old "impoverished view" as compared to a new, expanded, multi-potential global view. Don't miss this discussion. Mike sent in another note about what it might mean to be second & the value of the exponential potential. Phil took us through this discussion which made it crystal clear why maintaining our space leadership or being part of it on an international partnership level was so important for our future. In this context, Dr. Metzger talked about widespread participation in space development for multiple co-owners. Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. You can reach Dr. Phil Metzger through his website or me using