Australian agency pushes Australia to join NASA Gateway project


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The new colonial movement: An Australian government agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has put forth a space roadmap for that nation that includes a push for them to participate in NASA’s lunar orbiting Gateway project.

“And when you look at a moon base, the support systems of oxygen, water, food – and the general support systems around it – is something that nobody has ever done before,” he said. “When we looked around Australia, these are areas where Australia has as much skill as anyone else. Things like dry farming capabilities, remote mining capability, the fact that CSIRO perfected the titanium dust that you can 3-D print from … there are a whole range of things where we can potentially contribute.” It is an interesting fact that Australia has exceptional expertise in 3D printing titanium. This is even more interesting when you consider that on the moon – according to Dave Williams – there is an oxide that is very similar to titanium that could be reduced to a titanium dust, with oxygen as a by-product.

“Realistically, NASA will lead the whole thing. But they will be looking for partners, and the idea will be to identify which niche areas Australia should try to push its industry into, and try to get support for and to make it work,” he said.

Essentially, they are proposing that Australia get in on the Gateway boondoggle by focusing on and then offering to provide peripheral support services.

Much of this is bureaucratic twaddle, not to be taken too seriously. At the same time, it does outline for Australia areas where there are needs, and where their private space companies could make money.

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9 comments

  • Your last paragraph nails it. There are many areas of expertise required for space exploitation, some with no real counterpart in Earth-based endeavors (efficient oxygen production/distribution and cost-effective radiation shielding, for example). I suspect that national and corporate specialization will emerge in a relatively short time. There’s money to be made, plus, there’s significant prestige in space.

    I’ve considered that Gateway may not be a colonization effort per se, but more of an outpost on the Lunar high ground similar to US Army forts in the American West: a place where the Federal government can have a bureaucratic and military presence. Why should NASA spend resources on surface installations when private space is falling over itself to do just that?

  • Mike Borgelt

    CSIRO is a sheletred workshop that long ago gave up producing anything of value. They just waste Australian taxpayer’s money.

  • Orion314

    Why is it, with the brain power at a site like this , no one can seem to get a handle on how to get a campaign going to get some leverage with so called “management” at Nasa. I can’t recall the last time the manned space program had any leadership. Must a political whore always be anointed to run our once proud NASA?

  • pzatchok

    What will fLOP-G do in orbit that it couldn’t do better on the surface of the Moon?

    Spend the cash and effort directly on the surface.

    Build a facility on the moon and let everyone who can get there use it freely. A few Bigalow domes on the moon and some solar panels for basic power.

    Let private companies send anything they want to test or use. They send the people to operate the equipment. They worry about life support, They worry about getting them home.

    fLOP-G is like the only restaurant in town. But its not actually ins town. Its just outside of town. And its a bad restaurant to boot.
    Or better yet its a gas station in between two popular destinations. Both down hill from each other. Once I get up the speed to get to the fLOP-G gas station I could just as well coast down hill pat it all the way to the other destination and gas up there.

  • wodun

    they are proposing that Australia get in on the Gateway boondoggle by focusing on and then offering to provide peripheral support services.

    It doesn’t look like a boondoggle to Australia. Aside from, but also could include, remote mining, all of the activities listed take place on the lunar surface. Gateway is intended to facilitate building on the lunar surface. Because Gateway isn’t the only route available, we should look at the end goal that everyone involved is working toward, which is building a base(s) on the Moon and engaging in harvesting resources.

    This is a positive development because it shows that more countries are eager to do work in space and while they may lack domestic launch capabilities, they have the skills to participate in other significant ways. As American launch companies begin to provide access to space and other companies begin offering products similar to the ISS, we can expect more countries and other groups getting involved.

  • wodun

    Blair Ivey
    September 25, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Why should NASA spend resources on surface installations when private space is falling over itself to do just that?

    Private companies also want to build space stations and some of the more well known ones are participating in Gateway. From what we know so far, Gateway and a Lunar Village will be controlled either by NASA or some international consortium. Hopefully commercial lunar villages will show up just like commercial space stations will.

    Orion314
    September 25, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Must a political whore always be anointed to run our once proud NASA?

    NASA is a government organization and will be overseen by congress and run by the executive branch. What you want can only happen as a business or non-profit of some kind.

    pzatchok
    September 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    What will fLOP-G do in orbit that it couldn’t do better on the surface of the Moon?

    Spend the cash and effort directly on the surface.

    Build a facility on the moon and let everyone who can get there use it freely. A few Bigalow domes on the moon and some solar panels for basic power.

    Gateway is intended to be the step just prior to building on the Moon. It isn’t a question of either or. Why do you think a NASA program that just went straight to the Moon without any prospecting missions would be more successful or cheaper? Personally, I think the current focus should be on extensive prospecting. The best method for how people get to the lunar surface is likely to be radically different in 10 years. Also, Bigelow and other companies launching and running space stations will take some time and there will be a lot of lessons to be learned before plopping down habs on the lunar surface.

    Rather than the government killing commerce by giving away things for “free”, we should encourage companies to operate as much as they can away from government interference. How could a Bigelow lunar village compete with free stuff from government? Government facilities should be restricted to government work and governments should encourage companies to meet the needs of the market.

  • Orion314

    wodun…
    re ” NASA is a government organization and will be overseen by congress and run by the executive branch. What you want can only happen as a business or non-profit of some kind.”
    the big picture for NASA is this:
    NASA is a political/military whore, and, as all adults on this site knows well, the whore spreads ’em for whomsoever is throwing down the cash. As always, it is us , the USA taxpayers. WE , should be calling the tune.iT IS A POLITICAL MATTER.

  • pzatchok

    “Rather than the government killing commerce by giving away things for “free”, we should encourage companies to operate as much as they can away from government interference. ”

    Think of a simple habitat as that western US fort out in the new territories.

    Its the seed for the new and growing private Lunar colony. The first cabin in the woods. Someplace that will keep people alive for a week until they get their own structure built. Someplace they can find power to do that construction.

    The government supplies nothing after that, the private groups bring ALL their own consumables. All their own tools. Air, water and food.

    This can easily be done for less than a billion and be possible in under 3 years. Even for NASA.
    The LOP-G will cost as much as the Orion/SLS system. And provide nothing that can not be done on the surface.

    Now if you could find a private source for the billion dollars then the whole thing could be privately funded.
    But the dream of the government not being involved is just a dream. They will be as involved as they want, at any point they want. They make the rules and enforce them.
    The only way to keep them out is to build and launch from outside the US and invite some other nation to provide the political clout to keep the US government out. Pick your nation. Because if anything of significance is ever found on the Moon you can rest assured that ALL international agreements are out the window, because some government will what control and take it.

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