The Space Development Plan

The following is a scenario which the Institute seeks to turn into reality. It is conceived as the lowest cost (and hence most rapid and certain) path to development of space resources for the use of humankind.

I. Small, low-mass, spaceworthy, teleoperated, humanoid robots are developed by researchers, primarily in universities. For an explanation of why these characteristics are needed, click here.

II. Robots and their tools are launched in piggyback fashion along with communication satellites and other payloads. In orbit, they are used to maintain, repair, and dispose of such satellites. They can repair one satellite by scavenging parts from another.

III. All operations mentioned above and subsequently are conducted with an eye to entertainment value. In the robot development stage, contests are widely publicized. Teleoperators of off-Earth robots are chosen not only for operational skill, but for the color of their language and sharpness of their wit, The entertainment value of this work is harnessed to help pay the cost of development and implementation.

IV. Using the resources of an entertainment giant such as Disney, an expedition of teleoperated robots is launched to mine water from an extinct comet in near-Earth orbit. A low tech steam rocket is used to return the payload to Earth orbit.

V. In Earth orbit, the water is used as fuel to lower the cost of orbital transfers. Robots collect together many tons of space debris to recycle for building and repairing space infrastructure. Useful components are stripped from discarded boosters and satellites, and reused. Other components are melted down and converted to useful shapes by rapid prototyping techniques .

VI. Additional expeditions to near-Earth comets and asteroids recover metals, organics, and more water. These are brought into Earth orbit, then converted to useful forms, including a "space hotel" for scientists and others.

VII. Once there exist safe and interesting destinations in space, market demand for the transport of tourists to orbit reaches the point where commercial firms (not the government) underwrite the cost of developing inexpensive and reusable launch vehicles.

If you see any large holes in the above arguments, we would appreciate hearing about them.

This page updated on 11/27/95 by David Gore