Episode 75: Rob Mueller: Using the resources of space to build lunar outposts on the Moon and Mars

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Oct 26, 20181h 4m
Episode 75: Rob Mueller: Using the resources of space to build lunar outposts on the Moon and Mars
Oct 26 '181h 4m
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Today’s guest today is Rob Mueller, one of NASA’s senior technologists who is leading an effort to establish a base station on the Moon, and eventually Mars, as well as other destinations in the solar system. Rob is the senior technologist for the Advanced Projects Development at NASA Kennedy Space Center and a co-founder of Swamp Works, an innovation lab that has brought together NASA engineers, researchers and scientists to work on creating Spaceports across the solar system. As most of our listeners know, NASA has been working toward an eventual mission to Mars. But before venturing to Mars, NASA first plans to build a lunar base on the Moon. In announcing the agency’s decision to return to the Moon, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that this time the agency isn’t interested in just leaving flags and footprints on the lunar surface. “This time when we go, we’re going to go to stay,” he said. As part of this mission, Rob’s work is particularly focused on ways to excavate and mine the resources of space so that astronauts and eventually others will be able to live off the land in space. In today’s interview, Rob talks about his nearly 30-year career with NASA as well as the future of space exploration. Topics we cover include: [00:12:40] In order to survive and thrive in space, we need to be able to build things in space. [00:14:51] Rob’s lab at NASA called Swamp Works. [00:18:44] Swamp Works’ goal of expanding civilization into the solar system. [00:20:33] The Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot project. [00:24:59] How there are billions and billions of times the resources in outer space than here on Earth, and our potential to excavate these materials. [00:30:41] The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. [00:35:29] NASA’s decision to return to the Moon before venturing to Mars. [00:37:33] How new technologies being developed for Spaceflight could eventually have applications on Earth as well. [00:40:29] How to survive and thrive on the Moon and Mars, we will need to be able to build landing pads, habitats and roads. [00:49:03] A partnership Swamp Works has with Astrobotic to develop a micro-rover. [00:51:11] How the regolith of the Moon, Mars and other planets as well as asteroids contain valuable resources. [00:54:12] The future of space exploration. [00:57:16] How Rob responds to people who question the cost and relevance of going to the Moon and beyond. [01:02:13] And if people are a little less likely to take Rob’s phone call given that there’s a Robert Mueller in Washington who’s conducting a Russian investigation. Show notes:  [00:03:26] Rob talks about growing up in Portugal and how Rob ended up with an international background as a kid because of his father’s work. [00:04:00] Dawn asks Rob if it’s true that as a 12-year-old he was a pioneer of surfing in Portugal. {00:04:40] Rob talks about how his interest in advanced technology led him to the states and the University of Miami after graduating from high school. [00:06:48} Rob describes how he graduated from Miami shortly after the Challenger accident and ended up applying for a job at NASA. [00:07:56} Ken points out that it was an O-ring on the Solid Rocket Boosters that failed to maintain a seal that led to the Challenger explosion. Ken asks Rob to talk about how he came to work on the Solid Rocket Boosters when NASA hired him in 1989. [00:10:09] Rob talks about he actually was more interested in robotics than space when he went to work at the Kennedy Space Center. [00:11:02] Dawn asks Rob about his decision to work on an MBA at the Florida Institute of Technology while he was working at NASA. [00:11:45] Dawn follows up with a question about how Rob ended up in the Netherlands studying for a master’s degree in internal space systems engineering. [00:12:40] Dawn points out that Rob has been at NASA for nearly 30 years and that he is often quoted as saying that if we...

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