Apr 5, 2017

Lecturer: Rob Mueller, Kennedy Space Center

Mr. Rob Mueller is a Senior Technologist for Advanced Projects Development at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in the Exploration Research and Technology Programs Directorate. He is the co-founder of the NASA Swamp Works innovation labs and the KSC Granular Mechanics & Regolith Operations (GMRO) Lab.

Technical expertise includes Robotics, Mechanical Systems Design, Composite Materials, In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), Planetary Outpost Construction, Surface & Ground Operations, Conceptual Systems Design and Mission Architecture Design. He has worked on the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, X-33, Atlas V, Orbital Space Plane, 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicles, Mars Exploration Studies and Lunar Exploration programs. More recently, Mr. Mueller has been leading the development of technologies required for Planetary Surface Systems including developing the specifics of Lunar, Asteroid and Mars Regolith Excavation and other robotic surface support equipment.

Rob Mueller has worked for NASA at Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab. Mr. Mueller was awarded a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Miami (1988) and a Master (MSSE) of International Space Systems Engineering from the Technical University of Delft (2006), in the Netherlands as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT, 1994). Mr. Mueller has 28 years of engineering and management experience in the space industry and has been the recipient of numerous NASA awards including the Astronaut’s Personal Achievement “Silver Snoopy” award, a NASA Silver Achievement Medal and a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

Lecturer: Laurent Sibille, Ascentech Enterprises Inc., NASA Swampworks

Laurent Sibille, Ph.D., PMP has over 20 years of experience in science investigation and new technology developments for NASA programs. He earned a degree of Engineer of Materials and a Ph.D. in solid-state physics from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, France. He worked as a researcher in the microgravity materials science program at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and eventually became principal investigator for two Space Shuttle experiments on the formation of low-density materials in low gravity. He was the assistant Mission Scientist for the United States Microgravity Payload-4 (USMP-4), a Spacelab mission on STS-87. He has led technology development projects at two NASA centers including lunar oxygen and metal production systems development and co-founded NASA’s lunar simulant materials standardization program in 2005. As a Principal and co-Investigator, he currently leads R&D projects within Applied Technology division at Kennedy Space Center’s Swamp Works for NASA mission support technologies, planetary surface systems with a focus on space resources utilization and prototype development. He is the PI of a STTR-funded Phase I project titled “Comprehensive Modeling for Off-Earth Mining Optimization and Resource Processing” with UNSW Sydney School of Mining Engineering, Virginia Tech Dept. of Mining Engineering, and Kennedy Space Center Swampworks. He is a member of NASA’s Human spaceflight Architecture Team with focus on space resources utilization (ISRU) and is currently the vice-chair of the Space Resources Technical Committee of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Topic: Overview of Lunar, Asteroid, and Martian ISRU Mining Camps

Off-Earth mining and materials processing may be in our future following international interest in developing commercial commodity markets solely supplied in space. Governments of the US and Europe have commissioned detailed studies for establishing long-term bases on Mars and the moon respectively. Among other private actors, Space X has set the goal to develop a colony on Mars and ULA has announced itself as a potential buyer of water-derived propellants to supply depots in the Earth-Lunar system. Several companies eyeing asteroids as potential locations of mineral and volatile deposits of value are making progress toward their identification and assessment supported by new favorable governmental regulations and funding.

This presentation will look how constraints placed on space systems and known key drivers of decision-making in terrestrial mine operations combine to define requirements for potential architectures of mining and processing off-Earth. The discussion will include modeling efforts to aid in this process that are in early stages of development.

Recorded talk: click to view