Broadcast 868 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

08 Jan 2008 Robert Richards
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Guest: Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards. Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards was our guest for this Space Show program . We discussed Odyssey Moon Ltd, a commercial lunar enterprise based in the Isle of Man and the first official registrant in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. Bob began the discussions by explaining Odyssey Moon Ltd, its general business plan, their unwillingness to redevelop technology or hardware that they can buy commercially, and their plan for a continued lunar commercial presence. One listener asked a question about payload size and the possible use of large rockets such as EELVs. Bob said EELVs and other large rockets were too large and expensive for the smaller Odyssey Moon Ltd payload. We then discussed the capability of small payloads, such as the size of an office desk, and Bob went over the Google Lunar X Prize rules so we could understand that winning the prize does not necessarily require a robotic mission. He also mentioned that the hardest parts of the project have been the business components, i.e. making money on the Moon , because it will cost Lunar X Prize competitors more to get to the Moon than they will win. Next, we spoke about what they expect for their mission's lunar landing . You will certainly want to hear what he has to say about lunar landings. Another listener asked Bob about the legal regime for going to the Moon and conducting a profitable business venture. This led to a comprehensive discussion about the Outer Space Treaty, possible modernization of the legal regimes, and how likely it is to happen. You will want to hear this discussion as it is from the perspective of a businessman with a highly ethical sense of developmental responsibility for lunar commerce and not from the usual perspective of an attorney. Another listener changed the direction of our discussion and asked about the Optech, Inc. lidar project on the Phoenix Mars Lander. Bob told us about the meteorological lidar unit on the Phoenix, we discussed its launch on a Delta 2, and he told us about ongoing project management by JPL and more. Phoenix will land on Mars on May 25 so we will hear more about this project at that time. Later in the program, Bob was asked to explain the interest and appeal for space companies to incorporate in the Isle of Man. I am sure you will find this discussion equally interesting and informative. For those of you wanting more information about the Isle of Man, check out their website at Towards the end of the program, we discussed the importance of the Moon and Earth system, the importance of returning to the Moon, and the value of American space leadership. In discussing American space leadership, we were reminded that other countries are vying to take over if America falters. Again, this is a must-hear part of our discussion. To learn more about Odyssey Moon Ltd, please visit their website at If you have questions regarding Odyssey Moon, please use the contact information found on If you have a question for Dr. Richards, please send it to me at



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