The panel session at the opening of Space Manufacturing 14 tonight was quite interesting. The topic of discussion was _Moon, Mars, Asteroids: Where to Go First for Resources?_ There was some expectation of fireworks among the diverse set of panelists:
Jeff Greason, XCOR Aerospace ?Prof. Mike A’Hearn, University of Maryland, Dept. of Astronomy? Mark Sonter, Asteroid Enterprises Pty Ltd? Prof. John Lewis, Space Studies Institute? Prof. Greg Baiden, Penguin Automated Systems? Dr. Paul Spudis, Lunar and Planetary Institute
However, there seemed to be a rough consensus that the Moon is the best place to start to obtain resources, especially with the findings over the past year of abundant water ice and volatiles in the craters at the lunar poles. While there was certainly interest and lots of suggestions on how to use the near earth asteroids, it was clear that the Moon has many advantages, e.g. is relatively easy to get to on a regular basis, not so far away, its water can supply a space fuel network, etc.
There was much talk on how to initiate lunar resource extraction projects and the many practical challenges that they would face. Viable business cases need to be developed for commercial projects but there was a general recognition that government must play a significant role in building up the infrastructure. === Arthur C. Clarke previewed this discussion 58 years ago: Flashback Friday Returns! “What Will We Do With the Moon?” – The Launch Pad – Oct.29.10 === Alan Boyle highlights the meeting here: Building a future in space – Cosmic Log – Oct.29.10.