Broadcast 3057 Dr. Joel Sercel

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Guest:  Dr. Joel Sercel; Topics:  Space development economics, cislunar transportation & development, deep space mining, optical mining, NEO resource utilization & much more.  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,   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

We welcomed Dr. Joel Sercel to the program for a two segment 95 minute discussion based on his recent study, "Stepping Stones: Economic Analysis of Space Transportation Supplied From NEO Resources" (see the link for the paper on the blog).  When I started today's program, I mistakenly said that the study was a NIAC project.  This was not correct so pay attention to what our guest said about the study early in our discussion.  Dr. Sercel started out telling us how he got interested in this topic and why the focus on economic analysis.  He stressed, several times during the interview, the need for space development projects to make a profit to be sustainable and stay for the long haul.  Later in this discussion, he pointed out two types of people that create the need he was talking about:  1)  The Innovator.  2).  The Capitalist.  Listen to his detailed explanation for each type of person.  Our guest then went on to say that his study analysis showed that there were likely huge profits to be made in cislunar space development. 

Next, Joel introduced us to optical mining and technology.  We talked about this on and off during the program and in more detail in the second segment.  He noted that deep space mining and asteroid resource utilization would not be like terrestrial mining.  Listen to his explanation and description of optical mining.  Let us know what you think by posting on our blog for this show.  Public Private Partnerships was another major discussion topic in the first segment as was the COTS program which Joel used as an excellent example for a good COTS program. 

John from Freemont called to ask how our guest thought what he was talking about would actually happen.  That is, how did he or others plan on making this vision become real.  Our guest talked about working with Congress to speak clearly and to be cost effective with NASA and in their space budget and related work.  At one point he made the interesting observation that both Orio and SLS might actually be the best cost effective system available.  Don't miss all of what he said in support of this idea.  Joel also talked about the significance of a successful Falcon Heavy along with the upcoming Blue Origin big rockets.  Our guest suggested that in 10-15 years from now the space would be very different from what we have and see now.  Joel had much to say about people such as Musk and Bezos and their influence on cost effective policy with Congress, NASA and in general

Marshall was our next caller.  He pointed out that the #2 big item that had so far not been discussed in today's show was the problem for food in space and what to do about it.  Joel pointed out the progress being made in sustainable agriculture which had its roots from the 70's and the 80s.  Marshall and Joel talked about food in space and space agriculture for several minutes until we went to our break.  I believe their discussion was important so don't miss it.

In the second segment our guest talked about space tourism as a possible commercial space killer app.  He talked about the evolution in the space operations platform and how this was changing.  In comparison, he referenced the barnstorming years in early aviation as the changing operations platform for aviation and suggested that suborbital tourism would be similar for human spaceflight and space development.  He mentioned Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin as subcortical players for the next five years or so only to give way to orbital tourism.  To support this, our guest referenced important demographics so make sure you hear his analysis.  Like before, let us know what you think by posting comments on the blog. 

A listener sent in an email regarding earlier comments our guest made concerning the need for light handed regulations in the space industry.  Our listener wanted to know about heavy handed regulatory efforts that might come forth from other countries or the UN, wondering what impact such regulations might have on the emerging industry.  This discussion was followed by an email question from Joshua regarding the Outer Space Treaty and space based property rights, specifically for asteroid resource utilization and deep space mining.  BJohn in Sweden asked about problems with mining in an asteroid environment.  Joel pointed out that the process to be used was optical mining technology which he briefly discussed in the first segment.  Here, our guest went into more detail and introduced us to the First Principle concept.  He briefly descripted optical mining, the differences in equipment from terrestrial mining and said that space mining would not resemble terrestrial mining.  Don't miss this very interesting and exciting discussion.

Among the final questions as the program was drawing to a close, Karen asked about Joel's preference for international partners and cooperation.  A Denver listener sent in a note asking our guest if he thought space tourism and industry development would be seriously derailed were there to be a space tourism accident resulting in the loss of life. 

Dr. Sercel offered us important concluding comments.  He suggested we were at a tipping point and that space development for humanity was "The Next Big Thing!" He also talked about joining the team in ways that surpassed just being a space advocate and enthusiast.  He suggested getting involved in space companies or businesses and become an investor.  Once again, make sure you hear all his closing comments.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show.  You can reach Dr. Sercel through me or his company website,  




"Stepping Stones: Economic Analysis of Space Transportation Supplied From NEO Resources"

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04 Feb 2018 Dr. Joel Sercel
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