OotC: How was it working with Carly Fiorina on the Aldridge Commission? Do you think she saw the potential in space after all was said and done?
PDS: I think that Carly always saw the potential of space. During the Commission work, she was very interested in the sustainability issue â€“ how can we undertake and complete a project whose duration is measured in multiple Presidential terms and dozens of different Congresses? Itâ€™s an issue of structuring the program so that recognizable milestones and intermediate accomplishments provide motivation for ongoing political support. Carlyâ€™s input was very helpful as we struggled with these issues.
OotC: Microwaves, solar and induction furnaces, regolith movers, nuclear plants. What do you see as being some of the advantageous early technologies that will give us a leg up in getting started?
PDS: Learning how to handle large amounts of loose, granular material is a skill that is absolutely necessary to use lunar resources. I worry a bit about developing machinery that will be robust enough to stand up to repeated and continuous use in moving regolith on the Moon. Lunar dust is very angular and abrasive; without some mitigating countermeasures, moving parts will seize up after a few tens of hours of use. Developing good dust seals is essential. Learning how to operate in the lunar environment is also something that can only be partly anticipated. I think a lot of what we really need to know weâ€™re going to have [to] learn by doing â€“ on the Moon.
OotC: You had a chapter in a recently released collection of essays called “Return to the Moon,” edited by Rick Tumlinson, do you have a new book project of your own in the works to which we can look forward?
PDS: My wife Anne and I just finished a novel for young adults called â€œMoonwake: The Lunar Frontier.â€ Itâ€™s the story of a boy whose parent move to the Moon and they take him with them. Heâ€™s not particularly happy with this arrangement, at least initially. Once there, he learns about life at the lunar base, meets and makes new friends, builds machines, and gets into trouble â€“ all the usual things that pre-teens do. We tried to make the story as scientifically accurate as we could and worked in a lot of facts about the Moon as a world of its own. We couldnâ€™t find a publisher, so we finally decided to publish it ourselves; itâ€™s available from Amazon.com:
OotC: Anything else you got your eye on at the moment, to which we should be paying attention?
PDS: One event of great significance that many havenâ€™t noticed is that the Congress passed a new NASA Authorization Bill last year and it specifically endorsed the Vision for Space Exploration. So we now have both the Executive and Legislative branches on record as supporting the VSE. Funding the program is another issue, of course, but I think that it is significant that, unlike the earlier Space Exploration Initiative in 1989, the VSE is now official policy for the entire government. It makes it much more likely that something significant will come out of this effort.
Now, all we have to do is go to the Moonâ€¦..
We at Out of the Cradle would like to thank Paul Spudis for taking the time to visit with us and answer some questions. I also want to thank him for kindly answering many of questions over the past couple years in clear layman’s terms.
I’m looking forward to getting my copy of his new book I know I’ll find it entertaining and informative.