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Return to the Moon

The First Annual Lunar Development Conference
Return to the Moon I

South Shore Harbour Resort, League City, Texas July 15 - 16, 1999

Sponsored by:
Space Frontier Foundation
, FINDS, National Space Society

Co-Sponsored by:
Applied Space Resources
, The Lunar Resources Company, The Lunar Reclamation Society, LunaCorp, The Lunar Research Institute, Space Studies Institute, The Artemis Society

Read the Preliminary AgendaRead the June 23, 1999 Press Release

John Young
John Young, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle astronaut, will give the Welcome Address at Return to the Moon I.
Houston, TX, March 15, 1999 – This summer, two events will turn the world's attention toward the Moon. It will be the 30th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, and the Lunar Prospector will zero in on where valuable ice deposits can be found near the poles. With lunar water making a Moon outpost far more attractive than before, several organizations are jointly convening a workshop on how to create a commercially-oriented lunar base.

The July 15-16 workshop in Houston will conclude 30 years to the day after the Saturn V carrying the Apollo 11 astronauts lifted off on a journey that captivated the entire planet. Conference organizers expect heavy media coverage of the workshop, exposing the attendees’ ideas to the world.

Other near-term space destinations already have plans under way, with many science probes scheduled for Mars and an international space station being built in Earth orbit. The Moon, by contrast, is a blank sheet in terms of programs and agendas.

We believe this blank sheet should have "commercial approach" written large across the top. The reasons for considering a commercial lunar base include reducing the initial development cost to various governments through the use of corporate capital to build parts of the base infrastructure. A commercial approach also can respond to new requirements quickly, while continually reducing operational costs as competition draws in the lower-price alternatives to current practices. A price-based system of base resources also is nondiscriminatory, ensuring that all resources are available to all participants. It also will be less complicated than the government-to-government barter negotiations that are employed to allocate resources on the upcoming International Space Station.

The workshop will bring together potential buyers of lunar services and products with the companies that might provide such services and products, as well as the related commercial infrastructure of financiers and insurers. The primary customers are likely to be government space agencies. Secondary customers may be foundation-funded academics, scouts for industrial firms seeking resources to develop, and entertainment/media operations.

The workshop will provide a forum for these lunar "customers" to outline what they’d be willing to purchase from the private sector – which could include such things as science data, electrical power, telecommunications circuits to Earth, residential modules for employees, food, water and the like.

Potential providers of goods and services also will speak, detailing what they have available right now that would be appropriate for a lunar base and what they might have available in ten years when a lunar outpost might be started. These providers will range from transportation companies (with expendable rockets or reusable launch vehicles) to firms already building pressurized space modules that might be adapted to lunar habitats to companies building solar power arrays for satellites that could be used on the lunar surface.

George Abbey, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and Doug Cooke, leader of the Human Exploration and Development of Space effort at JSC, are cooperating in the development of the conference program.

After an opening plenary session, workshop members will meet in a series of panels and plenary sessions with the goal of synthesizing how the information delivered at the conference might influence the nature of a commercial lunar base – from its initial size and growth rate to how various economic activities might be interrelated.

The prepared outlines and product data sheets, along with remarks from various sessions, will be published both in print form and on the Web. Participants will be given the opportunity to revise their own data sheets prior to publication to incorporate new ideas gained at the workshop. The publication will be circulated to those who were unable to attend for additional comments and inputs.

This on-going process will allow interested parties to assemble one or more baseline business plans for a commercial lunar base. The business plans will guide commercial preparations for potential lunar initiatives, and will give government agencies much better knowledge about what support functions on the Moon could credibly come from the private sector, thus reducing their own initial and continuing costs for lunar activities.

Who Should Attend:
Potential customers of a lunar base.
Any agency or company that might buy goods and services at a lunar outpost will be invited to prepare a short outline describing the nature and amount of inputs they might be interested in buying, and estimates of prices that might be paid. All such customers would briefly discuss their outline in front of all attendees at a plenary session.

Potential suppliers of a lunar base.
Any organization that might goods and services in support of a lunar outpost would prepare a one to two page "data sheet" describing the current and projected specifications of their goods and services. For example, it might include a physical description of any current product or service and the current price, so that attendees might know what constraints they may face on weights, volumes or other factors affecting their own activities. Suppliers also would be encouraged to speculate on potential "growth" versions, cost reduction campaigns or new products that could be available in ten years.

Potential financiers and insurers.
Organizations that might offer capital or insurance for commercial lunar activities would offer short descriptions of their possible offerings, and requirements to qualify for financing or insurance coverage.

Also invited are experts from the academic and nonprofit sectors who may have specific suggestions for how a commercial lunar outpost should be organized.

Confirmed Speakers:

John Young, Associate Director, Johnson Space Center
Dan Tam, Asst. to the NASA Administrator for Commercialization
Dr. Alan Binder, Principal Investigator, Lunar Prospector Mission
Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11
Dr. Stanley Borowski, NASA Glenn Research Center
David G. Schrunk, MD, Lunar Power System Coalition
Dr. James Wertz, President, Microcosm
Mark L. Holderman, NASA
Doug Cooke, Manager for the Advanced Development and Exploration Offices, Johnson Space Center
David Gump, President, LunaCorp
Harrison Schmitt, Ph.D., Apollo 17
Denise Norris, CEO and President, Applied Space Resources
Dr. Peter Eckart, Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Rick N. Tumlinson, Space Frontier Foundation
Pat Dasch, Executive Director, National Space Society
Greg Bennett, Bigelow Aerospace
Randall Severy, The Artemis Society

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Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon is the definitive guide to the Apollo program. Click above to order from Amazon.com.

Robert A. Heinlein's classic, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, is a must read for all Lunar enthusiasts.

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