NEW WORKSHOP DATES: July 15–17, 2019
Workshop Location and Dates
The original workshop dates of February 20–22, 2019 became conflicted because of the government shutdown, and the workshop was postponed. The first lunar In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) workshop, Developing a New Space Economy Through Lunar Resources and Their Utilization: A Stepped Approach to Establishing Cislunar Commerce Through Science and Exploration (Lunar ISRU 2019) will be held July 15-17, 2019 at the Universities Space Research Association Headquarters at 7178 Columbia Gateway Dr., Columbia, Maryland.
Purpose and Scope
The world is going forward to the Moon, as has been seen by missions this century from the United States, Europe, Japan, India, and China, as well as upcoming missions from Korea, Japan, India, and China over the next 5–7 years. With the announcement of Space Policy Directive 1 in December 2017, the United States announced its intention to be part of the international movement forward to the Moon and to do this in a sustainable manner. Subsequently, NASA announced a new National Space Exploration Campaign Report in September 2018, which lays out an exploration plan that focuses particularly on the next 5 years. A critical part of that plan includes the characterization and exploitation of lunar resources as an enabler for further exploration of the solar system. While the report provides a broad outline of a plan for lunar resources, there is little in the way of a detailed strategy for identification, characterization, extraction, processing, and commercialization of those resources. Given the aggressive timelines of the planned campaign, it is vital that assets get to the lunar surface sooner rather than later, and near-term community input is critically needed for further development of NASA’s resource and budget strategy. Information from this workshop will be useful to both government and industry leaders in evolving near-term and future development priorities and plans that will enable sustainable human exploration and promote the commercialization of space.
Data gathered by the Clementine, Lunar Prospector, SELENE, Chandrayaan-1, LRO, LCROSS, and other missions have shown there are potential mineral and volatile resources on the Moon that could be used to sustain human life on the lunar surface and to develop a transportation architecture for human spaceflight beyond the Earth-Moon system. Utilization of these resources requires detailed models, assessment techniques, and proven reserves. Given recent findings of up to 30 wt.% water ice in some permanently shadowed regions at the poles of the Moon (Li et al., 2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073-pnas.1802345115), the time is now right to develop a phased approach to start to develop these and other resources, as proposed in the LEAG Lunar Exploration Roadmap Implementation Plan, NASA’s ISRU Roadmap, and the latest version of the Global Exploration Roadmap ISRU Strategy. Outcomes from this workshop will be used to update the LEAG Lunar Exploration Roadmap with an ISRU-centered strategy as the first steps toward the goal of establishing a thriving, sustainable cislunar economy.
The overarching goal of the workshop is to identify what NASA and other U.S. and international government and space agencies can do to foster space commercialization through ISRU. As such, several objectives will be discussed:
- Identify: What constitutes a lunar resource? Identify those resources that can be utilized in the near and far term.
- Characterize: Identify the measurements that need to be made to verify the extent of potential resource deposits and determine the form these resources are in, along with the compositional variability. Identify the prospecting techniques and missions that are needed to answer the questions of “grade and tonnage” of potential resources.
- Extract: Examine resource acquisition techniques for near-term lunar surface demonstrations in a variety of environments.
- Process: Discuss near-term demonstrations of processing techniques for the lunar resources that would be applicable for the lunar environment.
- Market: Discuss the needed input for resource models and assessment techniques required for public-private partnerships, commercial involvement, and industrial development to occur, establish, and anchor a vibrant cislunar economy.
Within this workshop, enabling technologies that require investment will be highlighted (e.g., power sources, cryogenic operations, cryogenic liquid transport, and storage, etc.), as well as what surface infrastructure will be required to make ISRU a commercial reality. This builds on the recent 2017 and 2018 LEAG meetings, the 2017 and 2018 LEAG Commercial Advisory Board meetings, the 2018 Space Resources Roundtable meeting and Lunar Polar Prospecting workshop held at Colorado School of Mines, and the 2018 Lunar Polar Volatiles workshop held at JHU/APL.
This workshop is envisaged to be the first of a series and will be held over 3 days, July 15–17, 2019, at USRA HQ in Columbia, Maryland. The workshop will be a combination of invited presentations and contributed lightning talks, posters, breakout sessions, and panel discussions (no more than one page abstracts are solicited for lightning talks and posters). A report of findings will be produced and will include community action items that will shape the next workshop.
Goals of the workshop include answers to the following questions:
- What is the actual level of interest outside of NASA on ISRU and commercial space around ISRU?
- What are the near-term barriers preventing or holding back commercial involvement/investment that the government/NASA could help reduce or eliminate?
- What are the most likely commercial products/industries that can grow out of ISRU, and how are they phased with NASA’s plans for Gateway and human lunar landings in the latter half/end of the 2020s?
Another goal is to establish a framework for enabling lunar ISRU as a viable economic driver for space exploration sustainability and growth of private enterprise in lunar surface and cislunar activities.