- topics that don't fit into the other categories -


The view is often expressed that, for space settlement to occur, it must be sustainable. That is true. But what exactly does sustainability mean?

There is not just one type of sustainability. Indeed, there are four types of sustainability:
   - Technical
   - Economic
   - Political / budgetary
   - Environmental

Space advocates who have a government-centric approach to space exploration often use the term "sustainability" to mean that the government program will be sustained across administrations and congresses. They decry the lack of progress due to the program constantly being changed when one administration changes to another. They say, "If only we could choose a program and stick to it, then we could make real progress". And so they argue for programs in which the views of the various stakeholders are taken into account in order to have long-term political buy-in. They also describe the need for our national space program to demonstrate regular achievements so that the voting public supports the program over the long run.

Space advocates who argue for economic sustainability make the case that only commercial profit-making ensures real, long-term sustainability. They often view big government programs as the problem but most often tend to want government funds to help facilitate the establish of commercial space operations. Advocates for economic sustainability often fail to seriously consider whether a government-facilitated "commercial" space program will likely truly end up resulting in a market-sustained commercial activity. For them, so long as it goes by the name "commercial space" then it is good and should be supported without considering whether the end result will be a perpetually government subsidized "commercial" operation.

These web pages primarily argue for technical sustainability. This means using approaches and in-space resources to reduce the cost of space development whether or not this reaches the level of economic profitability or not. Reducing costs via technical approaches helps both political and economic sustainability. Too often, NASA programs have been cancelled due to cost over-runs. If the costs can be reduced then it therefore makes it easier for the decision makers to continue the program. On the economic side, profitability is income minus expenses. If you have no income then reducing expenses won't result in turning a profit. But it certainly helps if at least some income is being made. For these two reasons, technical sustainability forms the foundation of the other two forms of sustainability and so technical sustainability should be the focus of efforts towards sustainability. These pages argue that there is a whole lot of room to achieve technical sustainability so long as we move beyond where the resources are not (i.e. LEO) and move to where the resources are (i.e. the Moon, Mars, & the asteroids).

The Plan proposes that America establish a full, end-to-end commercial transportation system between the Earth and Moon using the Lunar COTS approach. However, America certainly isn't the only country that would like to go. We have several partners in the International Space Station and there are other up-and-coming space agencies worldwide.

The Plan indicates that the US should, as a matter of policy, encourage other nations to fund their own companies to develop redundant but dissimilar elements of the transportation and habitation system. For example, the Europeans could build its own lander. Japan and Canada would likely love to develop their own telerobots. Other countries could use their space station experience to develop habitation systems. America should welcome commercial competition. Not only would it keep our companies honest but when the Space Shuttle system was down we found just how vital it was to have the option of using the parallel elements of other countries.

Technical sustainability is the key to reducing costs and hence achieving the other types of sustainability.

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