“SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk discussed the long-term technical challenges needed to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. The technical presentation focused on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.”
Ice extracted from asteroids or lunar craters will not be competitive with fuel launched from Earth on reusable rockets costing fifty thousand dollars. This should concern us.
15 tons of high quality fuels trucked from sophisticated refineries in Houston then launched for $250,000 on Falcon 9s in Brownsvile will always outcompete expensive fuels cracked from water-ice extracted out of lunar craters using as of yet non-existent multi-billion dollar technologies. In fact, the ability to launch tons of fuels from Earth to LEO on reusable rockets may delay the development of in-space resource utilization for decades.
When Musk achieves reusable rockets, development of all near Earth resources may be delayed from any cislunar source – even unfortunately asteroids with their superior concentrations of ore and favorable zero g environment. This ironically however provides a reason for taxpayer support of asteroid retrieval: private/public research partnerships teleoperating on an asteroid in Earth orbit owned by all U.S. citizens (NASA) could jump-start technologies humanity will need to develop asteroids. Humanity needs access to asteroids long-term. Asteroids – not the moon – will fuel a billion-fold increase in our industrial base. Despite a huge disparity in initial cost-competition with launches from Earth, government subsidized R&D on asteroids placed in an elliptical orbit around Earth could advance for-profit Free World leadership of in-space resource utilization by decades.
AeroAstro Centennial Symposium
Even negative critiques of SpaceX on Glassdoor – there are several – all describe Musk as working constantly, very, very hard long tough hours; he took real risks with his own personal cash upfront to start SpaceX long before hiring a single lobbyist….he has also singularly changed momentum to Mars settlement on a grand scale, and, for initial missions advocates Mars to Stay….so this page celebrates his efforts, with wide tolerance for what could be perceived as “gilded” materialism by cheap snarks who have not had the opportunity to know what it is like to make such lifestyle choices in the first place. It’s impossible to determine what is in a person’s heart – sometimes even our own – but as a commentator to the Breitbart article wrote, “For SpaceX, all of Elon’s contracts were for services delivered. Not cost plus, and for a tiny fraction of what NASA HAD been paying for similar services. All of SpaceX’s contracts came in under budget. I can’t speak for Solar City and Tesla, but from a SpaceX standpoint this seems off base.”