ISDC 2019 summary – June 8 by Ben Smith

Hi. I’m Ben Smith and this is a summary of my International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2019 experience.


Saturday, June 8


Morning Plenary

Keynote Speaker: “Confessions from Apollo” – Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut and Gerry Griffin, Apollo Flight Director Mission Control

  • This was a great session. Informative and inspirational.


Morning Track – Living In Space

  • Is Damaging Radiation in Deep Space the Great Phantom Menace to Our Big Plans? Dr. Bill Gardiner (NSS Space Health and Medicine Committee)
    • Candida absorbs heavy metals. But it could also cause cancer (data ?) and other bad stuff
    • “Harden” astronauts against radiation through diet. Reduce their risk of getting cancer.
      • Ketogenic diet
        • Decrease simple carbs (<5% carbs / <50 grams per day)
        • Increase vegetable consumption
      • Neutral pH (or alkaline)
      • Increase omega 3/6 (some fish and nuts)
      • Increase antioxidants (green leaf veg)
  • NSS Student Space Settlement Contest Presentation
    • I didn’t take notes.
  • Tests of Human Tissue Responses to Countermeasures to Damaging Radiation in Deep Space. Dr. Christopher Porada (Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University)
    • Main radiation threats
      • Solar particle events (SPE)
        • Mostly protons moving close to the speed of light
        • Directional
      • Galactic cosmic rays (GCR)
        • Omni-directional
    • Hematopoietic and gastrointestinal systems are especially vulnerable to radiation.
      • Increased risk of cancer
      • Decreased immune system
    • Apollo – Launches were timed so astronauts were always in the magnetotail resulting in significantly less radiation exposure.
    • Curry (curcumin) helps with radiation exposure.
      • Not water-soluble and has poor uptake.
      • Can be solubilized in lab.
  • The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility. Dr. Robert Zubrin (The Mars Society)
    • Interesting but he was basically shilling his book (which was for sale in the back of the room).
    • I didn’t take any notes.


Morning tracks not attended

  • Interstellar
  • LaunchPad
  • Moon



Met with Keith and Dana at the restaurant.


Afternoon Track – Moon

  • An Update on the Power and Propulsion Element for the Gateway. Dr. Michele Gates (NASA)
    • Interesting but I didn’t take any notes.
  • Gateway Program Update. Rod Jones (NASA Johnson Space Center)
    • Again, no notes.
  • Technology Demonstration Missions for the Moon. Dayna Ise (NASA)
    • No notes. It may have been skipped.
  • ANTAEUS: Sample Receiving Lab/Planetary Quarantine Facility at the GATEWAY.  Dr. Marc Cohen (Astrotecture Inc.)
    • Pretty sure this was skipped.
  • USC ADAM Project 2018: Recommendations for Quick Lunar Return. Madhu Thangavelu (University of Southern California)
  • NSS Student Space Settlement Contest Presentation
    • No notes.
  • Stability of Lunar Lava Tubes as Permanent Extraterrestrial Habitats. Dr. Anahita Modiriasari (Purdue University)
    • See below.
  • Ice-Rich Lava Tubes on Earth: Implications for the Moon and Mars. Dr. Pascal Lee (Mars Institute)
    • See below.
  • PERISCOPE: PERIapsis Subsurface Cave Optical Explorer. Jeff Nosanov (Nosanov Consulting)
    • See below.
  • Lunar Lava Tube Exploration and Exploitation Panel. Jeff Nosanov (Nosanov Consulting, LLC), Michael Dunn (4th Planet Logistics Inc.), Dan Hendrickson (Astrobotic Technology), Dr. Andrew Horchler (Astrobotic Technology), Dr. Pascal Lee (Mars Institute), Dr. Anahita Modiriasari (Purdue University). Moderator: Madhu Thangavelu (University of Southern California)
    • OK, so there was a lot of stuff on lava tubes this session and my notes blender together. So, I’m putting them all here.
    • Basalt density = 2860 kg/m3
      • A 1m impactor moving at 17 km/s will produce minimal seismic vibration at >60 m.
    • Lava tubes could be cold traps (ice!).
    • 300+ pits/skylights between ± 50 deg from the equator.
      • Probably not cold enough.
    • Currently pits are found by software but it’s hard for software to find high latitude pits. Need eyes.
    • Sunlight might not reach the floor of high latitude pits (depends on sun angle)
      • These lava tubes could be very cold at the entrance as they radiate heat to open space.
      • Deeper into the tube the temperature will rise to 50-75 K because of confinement.
    • Lava tubes can be stacked on top of each other by different lava flows.
    • Earth lava tubes are unstable. Little evidence of people living long term in them.
  • Lunar ISRU and Design and Sizing of Regolith Excavation & Handling Hardware. Dr. Paul van Susante (Michigan Technological University)
    • Working on surface mining robots.
    • Robot as to deal with unknows and natural variation.
    • How is the robot going to deal with rocks?
  • Lunar Landing Blast Effects and Construction of Landing Pads. Dr. Philip Metzger (University of Central Florida)
    • Constructed landing pads are critical.
    • Ejecta from Lunar landers can orbit the Moon.
      • Orbiting spacecraft can get sandblasted at 1900 m/s.
      • Ejecta plume can encompass the entire Moon.
    • A 40-ton lander will produce 180 tons of ejecta.
    • Thermal/aerodynamic/weight are all problems for landing pad design.
    • Need to find a way to avoid rocket plumes near surface facilities.
    • Rocket exhaust does not need to be aimed straight down.
  • ASCE Resources and Standards Workshop. Dr. Paul Van Susante (Michigan Technological University), Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis (University of Southern California), Dr. Haym Benaroya (Rutgers University), Peter Kokh (Moon Society), John C. Mankins (Moon Village Association), Jim Plaxco (National Space Society), Dr. Marc Cohen (Astrotecture Inc.), Dr. Pascal Lee (Mars Institute), Dr. Margaret Race (SETI Institute). Moderator: Dr. Philip Metzger (University of Central Florida)
    • Computing energy needs will equal global energy output by 2035.
      • Our civilization is reaching planetary limits.
      • Space-based civilization is mandatory.
      • I don’t remember if this belongs here but why not.
    • Knowledge of how to do things safely made available to everyone
      • Increases security from being sued
    • Manned System Integration Standards (NASA STD 3000)


Afternoon tracks not attended

  • Interstellar
  • Living in Space
  • Space Elevators
  • Space Ambassadors



I passed on the movie, “Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With the Future”. His paintings are cool but not “sit through a whole movie cool”. Keith and I had dinner, talked, and checked out the “party”. Although we showed up at the appointed time, the place was dead. We were unwilling to hang around for the fun to happen so we called it a night.