Mar 29, 2017

Lecturer: Philip Metzger, University of Central Florida

Dr. Philip Metzger is a planetary scientist with the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida performing research related to asteroidal, lunar and Martian regolith and exploration technology. He is Principle Investigator of a NASA project to develop small spacecraft that use planetary ice for thruster propellant. In 2014 he retired from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where he co-founded the KSC Swamp Works. He was selected as Kennedy Space Center’s Scientist/Engineer of the Year for 2011. He also received the astronaut’s Silver Snoopy award in 2011.

Topic: Economic Pathways to Space Mining

There are signs that human industry is overburdening this planet, and the natural solution is to stop demanding everything from just one planet. There is a large startup cost in putting industry outside Earth’s gravity well and there is a long payback time for most in-space activities, so finding economic pathways toward space industry is a challenge. There is an argument that governments must lead this effort so we can address our global challenges more rapidly, but so far policy makers do not appreciate how space industry can be practical and really contribute. Therefore, commercial space activities must take the leading role in the interim by demonstrating practically the initiation of space industry. NASA-led activities for exploration and science also play a crucial role. Several pathways toward space industry have been identified as commercially viable by building one upon another in sequence. These are: mining asteroids for rocket propellant, building large antennas in space for the backbone of the internet, and beaming solar power to Earth as microwaves. The desired outcome is the bootstrapping of a full supply chain in space and the offloading of a significant fraction of Earth’s industry into space.

Recommended Readings:
Affordable, rapid bootstrapping of space industry and solar system civilization, click here to download
Space Development and Space Science Together, an Historic Opportunity, click here to download

Lecture Slides: click here to download

Recorded talk: click to view