This week, specifically June 6-9, is the International Space Development Conference in Arlington, Virginia. Traditionally, this is the conference where new thinking and radical ideas receive a hearing from a broad, like-minded audience.

My talk is at 11 AM on Thursday, June 6. The title is “Beyond Rovers: Mobility for Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization.” If you can’t make it, here is a précis:

  • Dust, cold, navigation, wear, and power are all challenges for the kinds of rovers we have built to date for the Moon and Mars
  • Operating a production plant requires more speed and load-carrying capability than rovers have provided
  • To mitigate the dust, there are two potential approaches: making improved road surfaces (sealing, annealing, etc.) and putting vehicles on elevated tracks
  • The elevated track approach has the additional advantage of carrying power conductors, enabling uninterrupted operation
  • Robots need to be as compact as possible for thermal reasons, particularly when operating in the permanently shadowed regions where the water resource is thought to be of highest concentration
  • We need local surface measurements and observations so that vehicle trades can be closed

Hope to see you at ISDC!