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Guest: Dr. George Sowers; Topics: The Commercial Lunar Propellant Architecture Study, The Chinese far side of the Moon lander, Colorado School of Mines new space resource graduate degree program.
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We welcomed Dr. George Sowers back to the show to discuss the Commercial Lunar Propellant Architecture collaborative study project plus the Chinese lander on the lunar far side and new graduate programs at Colorado School of Mines. During the first segment of the two segment 90 minute program, Dr. Sowers talked about the Commercial Lunar Propellant Architecture Study, taking us through the mining technology, scientific and economic processes which will probably be used, the best locations for lunar water mining, power requirements and how to get the power to the job site, robotics, TRLs, sunlight, temperatures, economics, costs, and more. For example, early in our discussion, our guest talked about how lunar water extraction would probably take place, plus he talked detail about many of the processes and technologies involved and mentioned above. Listen to what he had to say and post your comments on what you hear.
George was asked many questions including one on lunar settlement and the likely location on the Moon for the starting of lunar tourism. What do you think of where he said that would happen and what people might do on an initial lunar settlement. Jerry from Las Vegas asked about how power might be made available for the mining operation. Again, don't miss the elaborate discussion on lunar power, solar, reflective sunlight, maybe someday even nuclear. As mentioned earlier, our guest talked about the chemical processes including the thermal absorption process, sublimation, electrolysis, and more. We talked about the craters, the lunar south pole and crater rims.
Listeners asked about the cost of the project and how the cost might be compared to large scale terrestrial projects. Again, don't miss what Dr. Sowers said, especially in comparing costs to large Earth construction and development projects. One thing our guest said was that the scale of getting started on the Moon was not so large that private industry could not handle it. This opened up discussions about the role of government and potential public private partnerships.
Listener Paul wanted to know about international participations. In short, the answer was yes, international participation was anticipated. In fact, our guest said he was part of the ESA Moon Village Association which focuses on international lunar development. George then talked about the lunar tilt at 1 1/2 degrees to the sun and what that means for sunlight and whereas this would impact all kinds of lunar development. He also talked about lunar teleoperations for many parts of the ice mining process.
At this point in our discussion, economics became front and center with more focus than when it came up earlier in our program. This economic discussion was an important part of our program. We then got an email from Dallas reminding us that this was a commercial study and if commercial ROIs were not available, the project would not be carried out. George then spent time talking about the differences with a government and commercial project.
In the second segment, I asked our guest for the implementation steps for the lunar propellant mining project. Our guest referenced the NASA CLPS program and approved companies for lunar payload delivery to the lunar surface as a start. Check it out here: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/774/nasa-announces-new-partnerships-for-commercial-lunar-payload-delivery-services. We then talked about China's lunar lander on the Moon's far side.
George talked about the lander at the lunar south pole at the Aitken basin. He talked about the German and Swedish instruments on board and the orbiting communication relay satellite parked at L2. Listen to his description of this as he went into some detail to explain the technology and orbital dynamics to us. When we completed the Chinese far side lunar lander discussion, George summarized the three new space resource graduate programs at Colorado School of Mines. If you are interested in these programs, visit here: https://space.mines.edu/graduate-programs.
Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Sowers on TSS blog for this show. You can reach our guest through me or his faculty page at the Colorado School of Mines, https://mechanical.mines.edu/project/sowers-george.