- policy recommendations for the current administration -


Despite the partisanship currently gripping our nation, one area of agreement across the aisle is that our space program is necessary because of the leadership that it allows us among the nations. The human spaceflight program is secure because our leaders understand that, if we are to be a great nation, then part of that inevitably means that must have a great HSF program.

But just because we are in the lead now doesn't mean that it is inevitable. Whereas the Chinese space program is moving forward relatively slowly, it is clearly moving forward decidedly. The US space program, in particular the super heavy lift vehicle (SHLV) and getting our crew back to space on our own rockets is a process that has been slow and in an unsteady manner. If we don't move forward at a good pace it may become possible that we could lose our leadership in space.

The current Default Path is a very government-centric approach of:

  • using a government SHLV,
  • with government crew
  • in a government capsule,
  • going to a government Gateway station in lunar orbit,
  • using a government-funded, commercial lander,
  • to a government base on the Moon
  • primarily to conduct government scientific research.
Certainly there are attempts to include commercial aspects where possible. But, at the end of the day, it is very unlikely that this architecture will be able to be transitioned to a purely commercial transportation system from Earth to the Moon.

These pages call for a set of public-private programs using the approach of:

  • commercial launchers,
  • commercial landers,
  • to a commercial habitat,
  • with commercial crew growing propellant-production systems
  • for a reusable commercial transport system,
  • leading to the development of an international base,
  • and finally with private settlers for a growing settlement.
There are a number of historic prizes which will go to whichever country first seizes them. Among them, several stand out: 1) The first woman to walk on the Moon, 2) Establishing humanity's first, permanent foothold off Earth, 3) The first humans on Mars. 4) The first child safely born off Earth. The current Artemis plan will likely result in the first woman to walk on the Moon being American. However, the history of the many Soviet firsts demonstrates that even this feat could be seized by China if they choose to prioritize this objective.

Many will find that establishing humanity's first, permanent foothold off Earth is a lot easier to achieve than normally presumed. These pages describe how an Initial commercial Crew remaining on the Moon for an extended period of time necessitating that they go as spouses means that they are settling down off Earth and hence the actual beginning of space settlement. History in the solar system will point back to this point as when it all began. We should recognize that extended crew stay to reduce the risk of loss of crew also means people settling down -- hence settlement and we should actively seek to achieve this objective.

The United States is a freedom-loving country because of how we got started. The British settlement of the eastern seaboard resulted not only in America speaking English but also of the sense of the rights of citizens which eventually blossomed into a new nation, founded on the principles of the rights of the people to select the government of their choice. Other countries have followed suit resulting in self-governance in the form of democracy spreading throughout much of the world.

As humanity begins to move to space, it matters who the first settlers will be because it is their rules, their authority, and their control of the resources that will become the de facto governance of the growing settlements. If the United States wishes for humanity to be free as we spread beyond Earth then we need to lead the nations in the settlement of the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere.

Also, given the challenge of geographic control being played out in the South China sea, we need to make sure that the lunar poles with their sunlight and volatile resources will be developed in a way that any settlements and any new nations there will be assured access to those necessary resources. A plan needs to be established soon for how those resources will be developed and how the settlements of any type an have guaranteed to those life-sustaining resources. Likewise a plan that encourages lunar development and, one day, political independence of settlements even with pre-drawn borders needs to be characterized. The well of human political thought has not gone dry and new nations can demonstrate to humanity how people can successfully govern themselves.

The Gateway is promoted as a way of maintaining the current set of ISS partner nations. With the Moon, and especially if we can establish a cost-effective, end-to-end commercial transport system between the Earth and the Moon, the partnership of nations can be expanded well beyond just the current ISS partners. Indeed, if each mission of lunar exploration with a crew of six were to cost about $0.5 Billion at commercial prices, then about 2/3rds of the nations could afford at least one seat. And if the price were raised from $80 million per seat to about $87 million per seat and the excess subsidizing the deficit of the smallest countries then all countries could watch their national astronauts exploring the Moon on behalf of their own citizens and in their own language. With many of those astronauts remaining behind in a growing international settlement, America would have opened up the solar system to the nations of the world and could lead the way in setting the ground rules for how this would occur.

Using the approach described by this Plan, America could open up the Moon and inner solar system to the nations.

Next: Tipping Point