Cislunar blueprint to propel space research for the next 50 years

Driving the orbital area around the Earth and Moon

Purdue University

In its inaugural call to action, Purdue Engineering’s Cislunar Initiative took a giant leap forward in advancing humankind’s presence in space and the development of the economy in the “cislunar region,” the orbital area encompassing the Earth and moon.

A video about the project can be viewed here:

“The ecosystem of human space exploration has been rapidly expanding,” said Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “At this critical juncture, Purdue Engineering is excited to join industry partners in the Cislunar Initiative and call for actions across the ecosystem, ranging from industry-friendly university intellectual property licensing to online learning opportunities from universities to industry.”

The Cislunar Initiative, led by David Spencer, associate professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Kathleen Howell, the Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, will have five objectives aimed at accelerating the development of a cislunar region’s economy:

  • Advancing access to space, enabling frequent and sustained transportation to and within the cislunar environment.
  • Envisioning and enabling the infrastructure that provides the necessary support for cislunar space exploration and development through a strong university-industry-government collaborative approach.
  • Identifying and utilizing space resources and materials.
  • Leading in the areas of space policy, economics and space defense.
  • Initiating K-12 educational programs and courses, professional development, internships, co-ops and a Purdue curriculum for the future leaders in cislunar development.

“The Cislunar Initiative aims to conceive, design, and enable the utilization of cislunar space over a 50-year time horizon,” Spencer said.

Launched as part of Purdue’s commemoration of Apollo 11 and alumnus Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon, Purdue’s Cislunar Initiative collaborates across multiple industries and sectors to address critical areas of need in cislunar space relating to commercial development, government policies and regulation, and research as humans beings expand capabilities into the region that encompasses the Earth and moon.

“We will leverage Purdue’s unique strengths and respond to the emerging challenges in cislunar space. Also a priority is the further development of a diverse space workforce at all levels,” Howell said.

In order to meet its goals, the initiative will leverage its existing strengths in mission design, space propulsion and planetary sciences to advance access to cislunar space, characterize and enable the utilization of resources from the moon and near-Earth objects, and conceive the infrastructure necessary for cislunar space development and habitability. The initiative also will pull from Purdue’s internationally recognized faculty, unique laboratories and test facilities and network of alumni in the space industry to enable national leadership in the development of this emerging frontier. David Spencer

The Cislunar Initiative Advisory Board, chaired by Dan Dumbacher, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, brings together leaders in industry, academia and government.

The other board members are Mary Lynne Dittmar, CEO and president, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration; Tony Gingiss, CEO, OneWeb Satellites; Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor, Virgin Galactic; Tamaira Ross, principal manager, New Glenn System Design and Definition, Blue Origin; Dane Rudy, CEO, Leo Aerospace; Sam Valenti, vice president of engineering, space and intelligence systems, Harris Corp.; David Wolf, National Space Council, former NASA astronaut; Frank Bauer, FBauer Aerospace Consulting Services, formerly NASA GSFC division head; Rob Chambers, director of human space exploration strategy and business development, Lockheed Martin Civil Space; Dan Hendrickson, vice president of business development, Astrobotic Technologies; Melissa Sampson, program manager, Advanced Systems, Ball Aerospace; and Frank Culbertson, retired president of Northrop Grumman Space Systems Group, former NASA astronaut.

Following the initial advisory board meeting, Dumbacher said, “This is an extremely important initiative using the tremendous capabilities across Purdue’s Engineering and science expertise to build a better future for generations to come. Purdue’s unique strengths will inform the important technical, economic and policy discussions necessary for extending the human neighborhood into cislunar space.”


The Cislunar Initiative aligns with Purdue’s “Giant Leaps” Ideas Festival, which celebrates Purdue University’s global advancements made in health, space, artificial intelligence and sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary.

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August 6, 2019 10:22 pm

This would be far better teaching K-12 kids about space R&D, rather than the evils of man made climate change. Humanity is about to enter another long term golden age going to space with both robotics and mankind, with mainly a lot of private R&D deployment to LEO and the Moon/Mars some day. Blue Origin, Boeing, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS) partnered with private industry, to name a few of the big ones and I see a very successful space program finally coming up. It is really too bad we got distracted nearly 20 years ago with other stuff, and retired the Shuttle early. Which reminds me of a question I always had, which was why couldn’t they have left 3 or 4 of the Space Shuttles permanently in orbit, and maybe used these as a Lunar Ferry to a Moon orbit and back. There is probably a good reason I hope, since it seemed like that would have only meant getting fuel up to them.

Martin A
Reply to  Earthling2
August 7, 2019 12:11 am

August 6, 2019 at 10:22 pm

Which reminds me of a question I always had, which was why couldn’t they have left 3 or 4 of the Space Shuttles permanently in orbit, and maybe used these as a Lunar Ferry to a Moon orbit and back. There is probably a good reason I hope, since it seemed like that would have only meant getting fuel up to them.

I think the shuttles required ongoing intensive ground based maintenance.

Reply to  Martin A
August 7, 2019 2:53 am

Fuel tanks in the shuttle weren’t all that big.
Secondly, transferring the fuel is dangerous.
Thirdly, they weren’t designed for that mission.

Reply to  Martin A
August 7, 2019 9:55 am

The didn’t carry enough fuel to go the Moon. Left in orbit means atmospheric drag. They’d have to be refueled. Everytime you hear of something burning up on re-entry so watch out, it’s atmospheric drag. The ISS regularily takes on fuel just to maintain its height above the Earth. The shuttles were rightfully descibed as under powered. You would have had to strap a big fuel tank onto them, to get them to do some more. Now launch that. You could launch the fuel tank seperately I suppose and meet up with it. Fuel is everything. The Saturn V was probably 74% fuel by total weight. That was Apollo 11.

Reply to  Ragnaar
August 7, 2019 11:49 am

Actually Ragnaar, the ISS has no thrust systems of its own and must rely upon reboost from the Russian resupply vehicle now that the SSTS Orbiters are defunct.
Regardless, fuel transfer in zero g is no simple task. Fuel simply wants to drift about in the tanks meaning there is no sump for collection. “Settling burns” (from smallish pressurized systems) are needed to get all the fuel to slosh to one end of the tank for any main engine or pump to begin to draw from.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
August 7, 2019 6:21 pm

I’ll say it’s hard to figure if it still does its own orbit rising burn.

Reply to  Martin A
August 7, 2019 10:08 am

Nothing stays in orbit permanently. There are electromagnetic drags, tidal drag (gravitational), and atmospheric drag. Space is pretty empty but not completely. Especially in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) where there is greater atmospheric drag as our atmosphere slowly dissipates. Furthermore think of the surface of our atmosphere like the surface of the sea with waves caused by differential heating. Some years when the sun is more active our atmosphere swells and complicates matters. The lower the orbit the faster the decay. Even the International Space Station (ISS) requires periodic reboost to push it back into a higher orbit as its orbit decays.
The Space Shuttle Transit System (SSTS) was to put it bluntly an apprentice of all missions and master of none. It was a very inefficient transportation vehicle in that it was very heavy and had a poor mass-to-payload ratio. They carried into space a whole lot of useless vehicle.
The first shuttle to go into space, Columbia, could not even fly high enough to reach the International Space Station because it was too heavy. They would need periodic reboost to just keep them from sinking, and they certain would need a very big fuel supply to get them anywhere higher.
Wings in space , as useful as teats on a bull.

Betty Pfeiffer
Reply to  Rocketscientist
August 7, 2019 11:06 am

“Columbia, could not even fly high enough to reach the International Space Station because it was too heavy.”
Columbia flew higher than the ISS on it’s mission to service Hubble (STS-109). Hubble orbits at
altitude of about 547 kilometers. The ISS orbits at about 350 kilometers. As a rocket scientist, you should know this.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 7, 2019 2:11 am

-Which reminds me of a question I always had, which was why couldn’t they have left 3 or 4 of the Space Shuttles permanently in orbit, and maybe used these as a Lunar Ferry to a Moon orbit and back. There is probably a good reason I hope, since it seemed like that would have only meant getting fuel up to them.–

The Space Shuttle {or I suppose you mean, Space Shuttle Orbiter] is basically a glider that enters the Earth atmosphere at very high speed and glides to large runway and lands.
Five of them were made and 2 of them were destroyed, leaving 3 operational Orbiters.
Length: 122 ft 2.0 in (37.237 m)
Wingspan: 78 ft 1 in (23.79 m)
Height: 58 ft 7 in (17.86 m)
Wing area: 2,690 sq ft (249.9 m2) [16]
Empty weight: 171,961 lb (78,000 kg)
It was designed to be lifted into orbit with 2 large solid rocket boosters and orbiter has rocket engines which get rocket fuel from a large external tank. It uses up the solid rocket within couple mins and the external tank is discarded, later, and before reaching the final orbit.
Additional rocket propulsion:
” The OMS engines provided significant thrust for coarse orbital maneuvers, including insertion, circularization, transfer, rendezvous, deorbit, abort to orbit, and to abort once around.”
So roughly the solid booster and the rocket fuel of external tank, get orbiter in LEO or provides about 9 km/sec of delta-v which give the orbiter an orbital velocity of about 7.8 km/sec. And OMS engines provide about 300 m/s {.3 km/sec} of delta-v and it requires about 90 m/s to deorbit [lower the orbit so it’s low enough, that the drag of atmosphere, can brake the orbital velocity [7.8 km/sec].
Anyhow, to go from low earth orbit to trans lunar trajectory requires about 3.1 km/sec- or more than 10 times rocket power than orbiter has.
Or orbiter has rocket power to move about in LEO, but it doesn’t have rocket power to leave LEO.
One could add more rocket fuel, but orbiter is not designed for this- it has a lot extra mass because it’s glider that lands on runaway, etc.

Or compared to the Dragon Capsule: Dry mass: 4,200 kg (9,300 lb)
Dragon can carry same number crew and can re-enter the atmosphere
{But Dragon does not have cargo bay which fit a school bus in to it and can carry a payload of 25,000 kg}
So: Shuttle Orbiter: 78,000 kg vs Dragon: 4,200 kg.
But if could get fully fueled shuttle Exterior tank:
Empty: 30,000 kg with gross weight, fueled: 760,000 kg
Into Low Earth orbit.
Then you have lot delta-v
Or enough to go to Moon.

But still, it’s not designed for the purpose of going to Moon and it would be inefficient and an expensive way to go to the Moon.

Reply to  gbaikie
August 7, 2019 11:24 am

Yes, it figures as such being so massive. Your explanation is now obvious because the space shuttle mass was so large so as to be an orbital launch vehicle and a return glider complete with wings. And to take all that mass to the moon , or even a higher orbit was out of the question, and not even practical lugging all that dead weight around to do anything much practical. But if this is the case, then the shuttle was also a very expensive launcher because not only did it have to lift itself into LEO, but also the payload it was taking. Given the 2 shuttle tragedies and the excessive cost to build and launch, perhaps the shuttle was not the right space development in the 1970’s thru 2000’s when it was retired and why we haven’t done as much for the same monies as we could have if we would have stuck to traditional rockets like we are now. Perhaps this is why some have such a negative view of manned space flight. I sometimes wonder if the shuttle will be remembered as a failure, even though it accomplished a fair bit, albeit at enormous cost, both financial and the human life lost.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 7, 2019 5:46 pm

” But if this is the case, then the shuttle was also a very expensive launcher because not only did it have to lift itself into LEO, but also the payload it was taking. ”

But rocket fuel is not expensive.
The idea was to reuse the spacecraft.
But shuttle was not actually reusable, rather it more along the lines of being “repairable”.
The crazy thinking was the Shuttle could be capable of delivering payload at cost of $25 per lb {and it ended up being more than $10,000 per lb- but even more than that if actually include all the costs]. But less crazy/stupid thinking was maybe get to $1000 per lb.
But one can’t really do that with solid boosters as it’s relatively expensive rocket fuel and inefficient rocket fuel {advantage is high thrust at take-off and within first minute or two of the orbital trajectory [less gravity loss].

Now, SpaceX is close to about $1000 per lb to LEO, and the engine and first stage rocket are designed for 10 uses without much attention needed to them. Though Shuttle engines are also fairly good in terms of reuse, but the orbiter itself required lengthy repair, and one had the problem of foam falling off the external tank [which was a reason for the lost of Columbia [or more exactly they didn’t check to see if the orbiter was damaged and have plan to fix it when it was in orbit}. Also another factor was the cost per orbiter to build one of them was about 2 billion dollars- and all the orbiters had already exceeded their design life.

So idea was the shuttle was to be cheap access to space, and it was a very unrealistic idea. It should have been restricted to experimental spacecraft but it was immediately regarded as operational spacecraft.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 7, 2019 6:01 pm

“I sometimes wonder if the shuttle will be remembered as a failure, even though it accomplished a fair bit, albeit at enormous cost, both financial and the human life lost.”

The plan was to privatize the Shuttle [from the beginning of program] had they done that, the Shuttle probably would have a better result.
BUT NASA and government in general, are not good at privatizing anything. And it looks like NASA is currently in process of failing to privatize, ISS.

And of course most of NASA exploration of space, is done with private launch companies, but human spaceflight is only beginning to use private launch companies. Boeing and SpaceX. And hopeful, more than just these two companies in the future.

Reply to  gbaikie
August 7, 2019 8:53 pm

I agree. Around 2000 during NASA’s Orbital Space Plane initiative I was on a smallish team that visited several aerospace companies discussing the pros/cons of space planes vs. Capsules. (It really is a no-brainer) Capsules win out in every area. Shortly thereafter NASA re-branded the initiative the Orbital Space Vehicle Program. That was the death knell for “wings-in-space”. Good riddance.
Since the creation of ULA (United Launch Alliance) comprised of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, NASA hasn’t launched a single vehicle. NASA does operate some really nice launch facilities and runs a few good material testing labs, but they’re mostly in the rocket mission buying business. NASA is, after all, only a contracting agency. Everyone forgets what the last A stands for.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 7, 2019 6:28 pm

Others have said similar things, so at the risk of being repetitive: the Shuttles were designed for travel through the atmosphere, on the way up and especially on the way back down. All that stuff–wings, tail fin, control surfaces, tiles for heat resistance during re-entry, even the bay doors–were designed for travel through the atmosphere, and are worse than worthless for travel in space: worse, because they constitute extra weight that has to be pushed from 18,000 mph (low Earth orbit) to 24,000 mph (escape velocity). Likewise the landing gear is needed only to land on a runway.

Traveling through space, all you need is rocket engines, fuel and oxidizer tanks, a place for people to sit, and minimal structure to hold it all together. If the people could wear space suits all the time, you wouldn’t even need glass windows; they could drive a convertible at seven miles a second.

That’s why the Lunar Excursion Modules (LEMs) looked so strange: they only had to travel through space, and land on the airless Moon.

John V. Wright
August 6, 2019 10:27 pm

Nice video and a good advertisement for Purdue – which is fortunate because the media release is largely unintelligible corporate gibberish.

Christopher Simpson
Reply to  John V. Wright
August 7, 2019 4:52 am

Man ain’t that the truth. I basically leveraged may skimming skills to zip through the verbiage.

Reply to  John V. Wright
August 7, 2019 5:40 am

Academia PR departments put out nothing but unintelligible corporate gibberish!

John the Econ
Reply to  John V. Wright
August 7, 2019 8:01 am

Isn’t that the case? The biggest irony of academia is that they honestly believe that they are on a higher plane than the crass commercial world when in fact they are far worse.

August 6, 2019 11:06 pm

“Humankind” nooooooo!!!!

Reply to  nc
August 7, 2019 5:43 am

I know! how could they?! Don’t they know it is “hupersonkind” now. hu-MAN is offensive as can be!!!!


Reply to  OweninGA
August 7, 2019 1:00 pm


Auto – only a bit /sarc.

Andy Espersen
August 6, 2019 11:07 pm

Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow do all this work and research in close economic and scientific co-operation with the Russians and the Chinese. That would greatly help ease present political tension.

Reply to  Andy Espersen
August 7, 2019 12:44 am

Why would the economic world leader want to “co-operate” with the US, when the US has already so willingly sacrificed its position as world leader on the alter of the Climate Cult?

August 7, 2019 12:45 am

Seems like a typical example of corporate/political gobbledegook.

Invent a new word, announce an initiative/programme and pretend you have achieved something.

Purdue Engineering may have a good space engineering capability or it may not, this initiative will make no difference to that,

Reply to  BillP
August 7, 2019 2:32 am

Cislunar reminds me of a Lagrange point, I don’t know which one. Anyway, I was expecting a scientific video, not an infomercial

Reply to  Urederra
August 7, 2019 11:08 am

Cis – is a prefx which means: “this side of”
There are 5 Lagrange points only L1 by this definition is cislunar. L2 is on the far side of the Moon. L3 is exactly opposite the Moon with Earth in between. L4 & L5 also known as Trojan Points are stable parking points that lie on the Moons orbit 60° preceding and trailing the Moon.

L1 is some very valuable real estate between Earth and the Moon where our gravities are tugging equally. Its a meta-stable point because as you drift to one side or the other you will begin to fall towards that side, but its pretty easy to set up a parking orbit there, and the falling has advantages. Its where we would park any interplanetary “Earth Depot”. Sending minerals up from the moon will be easy. Dropping packages down to either side earthbound or moonbound will be done with rail guns and just letting them… fall. By controlling the push we could keep the depot’s orbit stable.

Reply to  Urederra
August 7, 2019 12:31 pm

Technically (I googled the definition), Cislunar means “this side of the moon” (e.g. sublunar). I think Purdue’s intended meaning was “the earth/moon system”. They kind of failed.

The term “cis-” has become a dog whistle for the far left social justice warrior. It’s repeated use in this article is used to reinforce Purdue’s “Woke” status. “Even our hard sciences departments are Woke.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 9, 2019 2:37 pm

“the earth/moon system”

That’s what they should be calling it. It’s much more descriptive.

Geoff Sherrington
August 7, 2019 12:50 am

Another Press Release, another dose of bafflegab.
Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 7, 2019 1:40 am

Precisely Geoff S:

Look at us🤑🤑🤑. Send us loads of Grant dosh.

Dan Cody
August 7, 2019 1:16 am

Did you hear about the new restaurant they opened up on the moon? I hear the food is great,but it has no atmosphere.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Dan Cody
August 7, 2019 3:16 am

Atmosphere is extra!

Reply to  Dan Cody
August 7, 2019 6:30 pm

I want to go to their cheese tasting party; I hear it’s far out.

August 7, 2019 2:02 am

Will this initiative prevent scientific breakthroughs? Almost certainly.

Scientific breakthroughs are almost always the result of serendipity. There is a prepared mind which observes something and realizes its importance. For example, penicillin wasn’t discovered by the cleaning lady. Chance favors the prepared mind. link

By managing the crap out of research, we are effectively preventing serendipitous discovery. We are producing a system of enforced mediocrity. Greatness Cannot be Planned.

Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2019 6:11 am

A serendipitous discovery is exactly what they don’t want. Any such discovery might upset the conclusions they have already reached. You must understand the new, scientific methodology (or is that mythology?): decide your conclusions, formulate a study whose results should support your conclusions, adjust any data not supporting your conclusions until they do, tout that you are right, and publish. Label anyone who disagrees as a science de-ni-er.

Reply to  jtom
August 7, 2019 10:22 am

Jtom, I think Commiebob was referring to serendipitous discovery arising from large engineering programs such as the “moon shoot” where the eventual discovered product had no application with program.
Often these discoveries are for off-mission use of a “discovered” material such as the now ubiquitous colorful Mylar balloons, or the failed adhesive that didn’t stick very well that became post-it notes.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
August 7, 2019 12:42 pm

Perhaps, but he mentioned penicillin. Alexander Fleming noticed the inhibition of bacterial growth around a contaminant blue-green mold on a Staphylococcus plate culture. If his objective was to show that Man was doomed to die from an outbreak of Staph unless we destroyed economies, that serendipitous discovery would have been most unwelcomed. No? Or am I wrong to think that the cisLunar program does not have a true scientific/engineering objective?

Reply to  jtom
August 7, 2019 1:49 pm

I posit the scientific and engineering purposes of the L1 Earth Station will be to essentially build a deep water port that will serve any and all interplanetary launching and resupply missions exploratory or mundane. Its the gateway to the Earth-Moon system.
Its only objective would be to be operational, however who benefits is another question.
I suppose that whoever benefits will be he who builds the first trading post. Levi Strauss wasn’t a miner, but made a fortune supplying them.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  jtom
August 9, 2019 2:44 pm

“L1. . . Its the gateway to the Earth-Moon system.”

Yes it is.

August 7, 2019 2:51 am

Won’t the name ‘Cislunar’ trigger the trans folk?

Reply to  fretslider
August 7, 2019 4:07 am

As far as I can tell, ‘cis’ was borrowed from organic chemistry because it means the opposite of ‘trans’. link Anyway, what doesn’t trigger some folks?

Don K
Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2019 5:43 am

From the English preposition cis (“on this side of”).

But you’re more or less right. Ten of the first ten search responses from Google were about Chemistry.

Reply to  fretslider
August 7, 2019 4:25 am

It will, but the next logical step after cislunar is “Translunar”, so they will wave jazz hands in approval until the next soul crushing, life changing insult makes them completely unable to function… like someone callously uttering the phrase “hey guys”.

Reply to  UNGN
August 7, 2019 6:21 am

Jazz hands in lieu of clapping has always left me, um, soundless. It is supposed to be more inclusive (for the hard of hearing, I presume), but in reality: they are assuming that those hard of hearing are too dumb to understand what is going on when they SEE people joyously smacking their hands together; and if everyone is only jazz-handing, it will leave those with sight impairments wondering what’s happening.

This technique looksmore exclusionary than inclusionary.

Reply to  jtom
August 7, 2019 11:55 am

Rats, I tried doing that “Jazz Hands” thing to salute the gender-confused “trans folks,” but my arthritis flared up, and all I was able to wiggle was my middle fingers…oh, well.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  jtom
August 9, 2019 2:50 pm

“Jazz hands in lieu of clapping has always left me, um, soundless.”

I didn’t even know what “jazz hands” meant until just the other day. When I first saw a demonstration, I thought it was a joke, but much to my surprise, the guy was serious. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Tom Halla
August 7, 2019 4:50 am

Great Leap has unfortunate associations with Mao’s backyard steel furnaces and other misguided projects by politicians who just don’t understand the basic technology.

August 7, 2019 6:39 am

Satire? Or PC run amok? I can not tell.

Cislunar, oh please.
Translunar, you knew it had to happen.

The clue is last major point, about 3/4 of the way through the video.
They stress that they want to work hard to make it safe for everybody.

Are you ready for this:
A SafeSpace!

David Chappell
Reply to  TonyL
August 7, 2019 4:14 pm

Trans-lunar: A sun in a moon’s body or in the words of the old song “The moon in the morning and the sun at night”

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
August 7, 2019 6:55 am

The Newspace community (of which I was a part as founder of Kelly Space & Technology, Inc) is expecting cislunar space to become the next economic boom town. Every boom town needs an infrastructure. Bob Bigelow has hotels nailed down. So what’s left?

Well, every frontier boom town in the American west was almost defined by its saloons. That’s my goal. I intend to establish the first pub in cislunar space.

I even have the perfect name for it: The Cis Boom Bar (copyright 2019 Michael S. Kelly).

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
August 7, 2019 7:29 am

PS: I am a Purdue grad, BSME and MSME. My wife is, too, BSAE and MSAE.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
August 7, 2019 9:49 am

“The Newspace community (of which I was a part as founder of Kelly Space & Technology, Inc) is expecting cislunar space to become the next economic boom town. Every boom town needs an infrastructure. Bob Bigelow has hotels nailed down. So what’s left?”

Hey! I’ve heard of Kelly Space! I didn’t know you were that Kelly.

What’s left after Bigelow puts his inflatable hotels in orbit? How about Jeff Bezos building an O’Neill Habitat in the Earth/Moon system. Bezos is interested and was a student of Gerard K. O’Neill, and he has a lot of money available, so I think it is just a matter of timing.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
August 7, 2019 1:02 pm

Make mine a tequila sunrise.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
August 7, 2019 6:27 pm

I gather that space is like international waters; lawless. So why not go the whole western saloon, complete with dancing girls. I’m sure the Russians and Chinese would love to call in too.

Kevin A
August 7, 2019 9:13 am

Wake me when Purdue creates a Fusion rocket engine capable of achieving .99 light speed.

Tom Abbott
August 7, 2019 9:55 am

Well, if you want to develop the Earth/Moon system then you are going to have to be able to move around in the Earth/Moon system, so one of the first things this development will need is an orbital transfer vehicle capable of reaching any point in the Eath/Moon system.

NASA should probably pay for this development and hire the private sector to do the work. Perdue can do a new study exploring the capabilites required and come up with a new design.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 7, 2019 6:31 pm

I think the first thing a government should do is buy water in space.
And since military is slightly competent, I think the space force should offer
to buy say 1000 tons of water in Earth/Moon L-1 [or L-2}.
And instead offering to pay a high price per ton or lb, they should offer to pay the lowest “somehow reasonable” price, but offer buy a lot of it {totaling to a 1000 tons- which is a lot}. But if they are in hurry, buy at less cheap price and a lot more than 1000 tons, say 10,000 tons].
But if they want to be more cautious and reasonable, say 4 million per ton and offer to buy 500 tons, or 2 billion dollar in total to people we like, to deliver it.

And if any water is delivered at that that fairly low price, then offer to paid any party which will split the military’s water, into rocket fuel.
So if someone splits 90 tons of water, Military pays them about 360 million dollars.
And then Military can wonder what going to do with the 90 tons of rocket in L-1.
They can use it for something, they trade for some service, or they give it away to another agency or other party. They could use rocket fuel to land Military base on the Moon, for example.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  gbaikie
August 7, 2019 7:49 pm

Speaking of water in orbit, I read about an interesting design for an orbital transfer vehicle using water as the working fluid, kind of like a glorified teapot. The water is heated up and steam is expelled to move the vehicle.

There is lots of water ice on the Moon. We could put a Gerard O’Neill-designed mass driver on the Moon and shoot chunks of ice into orbit where they would be picked up by our orbital transfer vehicle. There wouldn’t need to be much processing of the water before it could be used for propulsion, just melt it and heat it up to steam.

Water ice also makes a dandy radiation shield.

We might be able to power the water-powered orbital transfer vehicle using a Solar Power Satellite located in the Earth/Moon system using lasers or microwaves to heat the water.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 7, 2019 8:56 pm

I was looking for something, but I didn’t find it, anyhow,
“Momentus plans to demonstrate Vigor, its first water plasma thruster, by sending it into orbit in February 2019 on a 16-unit cubesat launched from a Russian Soyuz rocket. In 2020, Momentus plans a flight demonstration of the Ardor thruster it is developing for its Ardoride propulsion system to power 500 to 1,000-kilogram spacecraft.
Momentus is not alone in seeing the promise of water as a propulsion source. Deep Space Industries sells Comet, a water-based small satellite propulsion system. Tethers Unlimited offers Hydros, a water electrolysis thruster. And the Aerospace Corp. built water-fueled thrusters for the NASA Ames Research Center’s Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration mission launched in November 2017.”

And “…One of the main problems we solved is how to make sure that plasma will not vaporize the chamber walls and nozzle.”

Which seems like a good problem to have solved.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  gbaikie
August 8, 2019 12:11 pm

Thanks for all that info, gb.

Walter Sobchak
August 7, 2019 9:59 am

Isn’t cislunar cishetero?

August 7, 2019 1:28 pm


Greg Cavanagh
August 7, 2019 6:17 pm

Re: “The Cislunar Initiative aims to conceive, design, and enable the utilization of cislunar space over a 50-year time horizon,” Spencer said.

Is that anything like cis gender?

Tom Abbott
August 7, 2019 8:06 pm

Above I mentioned Jeff Bezos being interested in building an O’Neill Habitat in orbit, He wrote an article about it just a few weeks ago but I don’t have a link handy.

So he is interested and has the money to make a lot of progress.

As a preliminary move, I would suggest to Mr. Bezos that he get himself two habitation modules in orbit and put one at each end of a cable one mile long, and cause this configuration to orbit about its center at a speed of one revolution per minute (rpm) and this will generate artificial gravity (centrifugal force) which will be eqivalent to the gravity on the surface of the Earth. That’s what he is going to do in his O’Neill Habitat so this will give him an early start on exploring this new way of living in space.

My formula for creating one Earth gravity in orbit is: 1+1=1 which translates to one mile in diamter, plus one revolution per minute, equals one Earth-equivalent gravity on the perimeter.

I use the one mile measurement instead of metric because that way I can come up with my corny formula. 🙂

And here’s another hint for Mr. Bezos: NASA is apparently planning on scapping the international space station around 2025, so Jeff ought to contract with NASA to take a couple of the habitation modules off the space station to use for his 1+1=1 project. They are already up in orbit and there’s no sense in wasting them by dumping them back into the atmosphere.

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