New Blogger: Chris Stelter

With several of the original bloggers now off doing their own thing, and John Hare and me so busy running our own businesses, I decided to invite someone new to join the ranks of Selenian Boondocks bloggers–Chris Stelter.

Chris is a physicist who recently joined NASA1, with an interest in robotics, space technology, and advanced mission architecture concepts, and has a wide range of interesting technical ideas to blog about, including Venus and Mars ISRU, mission architectures, solar-electric propulsion, robotics, etc. Also, breaking with tradition, unlike the rest of us knee-jerk libertarians, Chris comes from a more progressive political background. I figured that providing some diversity of thought was a good idea2.

Anyhow, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Chris, and I look forward to seeing both his space ideas, and the occasional polite disagreement over policy/economics. Welcome Chris!

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
  1. This is where I apply the traditional caveat that like with the rest of us, his views don’t reflect the official policy of his employer or of the US government in general, green Aliens on Mars, or the rest of the bloggers for that matter.
  2. Though when it comes to space, Chris is still part of the same pro-entrepreneurism, pro-settlement, pro-technology bent as the rest of us
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7 Responses to New Blogger: Chris Stelter

  1. Chris Stelter says:

    I think you’re exaggerating the political differences, but that’s fine. ☺ I’m definitely pro-tech, pro-entrepreneurship, pro-capitalism, etc (not just in space). I’m just a dirty Keynesian that thinks income inequality (restated: stagnation for the lower and middle class) might be a problem and that climate change is a thing.

    Anyway, space is a lot more interesting than politics.

  2. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    You knew I was going to have to play things up, right? 🙂

  3. John hare says:

    You know that sign you saw on the way in about not having to be crazy to blog here? LIE

  4. Robert Clark says:

    Welcome aboard. I see you are interested in advanced space architecture concepts. Perhaps you could float the idea of a propellant depot based Mars architecture by your NASA colleagues.

    Key points about a propellant depot based Mars architecture, once the propellant depots are in place at both departure and arrival points:

    1.)One *single* medium-lift booster first stage, Falcon 9, Atlas V, Delta IV, etc., delivered *empty* to orbit can then do ALL the propulsion from LEO departure, to Mars orbit insertion, to Mars landing, to Mars liftoff, to return to Earth.
    No Saturn V, Constellation, Ares V, SLS, Mars Colonial Transport, or even Falcon Heavy required. The required boosters are already existing IF those propellant depots are already in place.

    2.)SpaceX has shown that you can do reentry burns in the hypersonic airstream with the F9 first stage reuse tests. Then the problem of landing large masses on Mars is solved by doing a fully propulsive burn to Mars landing once that one, single stage is refueled in Mars orbit.

    3.)That one single mid-lift stage could also be used to make an approx. 30 day flight to Mars. No VASIMR, solar electric or nuclear propulsion required. However, very high reentry velocity heat shields, ca. 20 km/s instead of ca. 6 km/s, would need to be developed for this.

    4.)The most important point of all: getting the propellant depots to cislunar orbit is *easy* using near Earth asteroids. You don’t need to use the Moon’s proposed water ice deposits or develop a manned lunar base. This was the most surprising calculation of all: a single Centaur upper stage, of ca. 20 mT gross mass, could drag a 500 metric ton asteroid to cislunar space.


    Propellant depots for interplanetary flight.

    Bob Clark

  5. Hop David says:

    “…and that climate change is a thing.”

    My opinion parallels Elon Musk’s.

    Regardless if climate change fears are valid or not, carbon fuels are a finite, non-renewable resource. It makes sense to transition to solar and nuclear in any case.

    Looking forward to reading Chris Stelter’s thoughts.

  6. gbaikie says:

    “Regardless if climate change fears are valid or not, carbon fuels are a finite, non-renewable resource..,”

    What about methane hydrates in the ocean?
    It seems there is large quantities involved, and from the time sea levels have risen
    about 140 meters, it seems to me that additional deposits have been added- so could be somewhat renewable.

    Anyhow without using methane hydrates in the ocean, it seems that when includes the global potential related to the use of fracking, the world has at least 100 year of carbon fuels. Which in my mind bring up the potential of harvesting solar energy in space for electrical use on Earth.
    And this is related to using depots in space, and thereby developing a market in space
    for rocket fuel, which then leads to a market for rocket fuel made in space.
    And to make rocket fuel in space require cheaper energy and market for energy in space for space, which leads to that energy market in space, eventually tapping into the energy market on Earth surface. And all of this could take less than 100 years.
    And significant step in this direction is NASA exploring the Moon to find minable lunar water, and then NASA exploring Mars to determine where and if mars settlements can be viable on Mars.
    And part of lunar and then Mars NASA exploration would involve developing depots and using that the rocket fuel [and other supplies] for this exploration. And follow up of commercial lunar mining, and mars settlements could also use and be involved with this infrastructure of depots in space.

  7. Chris Stelter says:

    I guess I’ll start out my first post on carbon and climate, then, and why I don’t think we’ll run out of fossil fuels AND why that is a problem, even if you don’t trust a lot of the existing climate models.

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