SSI 50: Reevaluating SSPS and Considering Other Revenue Potentials

About three quarters the way through the final panel session of the final day of SSI 50, two attendees quickly ducked out of the Allen auditorium to refresh their coffees. As the door eased closed behind them I heard the one man’s exasperated words, “Sheeesh! Robots, AI, Military! Where’s the Humans?!”

For the rest of the talk and during the long drive home, I have to say that I felt the same emotions as that man about this session.


In putting together the video, going through the angles second by second, rewinding and replaying over and over, the words of the other person in that overheard exchange started coming back to me. Just before the door had shut and over the din of the museum public visitors, she had said to him, “No, there was a nugget in…”


A good word for a session on the quest for the gold that will make Space a place worth living.


The final session of SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise gathering held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle September 9th and 10th, 2019 is about the ways to pay and to make it pay.

The original High Frontier platform, envisioned during the peak of the American energy crisis of the 1970’s, put Dr. Peter Glaser’s invention of Space Solar Power Satellites as the primary revenue source for LaGrange area communities.

In the end, short of a miracle substance, SSPS will be the way an advancing civilization powers its survival. Eventually it will be obvious to everyone that digging up and pumping out the remains of ancient solar energy from the ground is silly when you can get to the unlimited pure, live source in just 8 minutes.

But will that happen in a time that we all live to see? Will it be required for our “O’Neill Colonies” to be built? And even if SSPS goes live in a very big way, didn’t we learn from Enron that putting all of your stock into just one bucket, energy or otherwise, can be a dangerous idea?

After a short intro, Dr. John Mankins, Founder of Artemis Innovation and undisputed living expert on SSPS gives us a status report and his view of the relatability that SSPS now has to Space Settlement. This portion, with occasional refocusing to the topic, runs about 50 minutes.

Then, the whole panel of Dr. Mankins, Eva-Jane Lark, VP of BMO Nesbitt Burns, and Dr. Philip Metzger, Planetary Scientist of the Florida Space Institute of the University of Central Florida, join together to discuss other revenue options.  Don’t expect a big finish ending with a single slide showing “The Ultimate Product!”, this remains the toughest nut to crack.

Most of the SSI membership is comprised of Engineers and Scientists, and while Gerry O’Neill was both of those, he was also a businessman.  It’s our turn now. TANSTAAFL.

SSI 50: Bioneering

“Life originated in the sea and developed in it slowly for hundreds of millions of years, while the land surfaces of the ancient earth remained utterly lifeless. The primitive, soft-bodied sea creatures, many of them hardly more dense than the water itself, were utterly unable to colonize it. The gleaming surface above their heads was a deadly, impassible boundary. They had developed in water, and without water all around them they could not live.”
-Jonathan Norton Leonard
Flight Into Space: Facts, Fancies and Philosophy
Chapter 11: The Hostile Environment

“Space doesn’t give a d**n about ideology, it’s always trying to kill you”
-Jim Logan
SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise
September 10th, 2019


This next SSI 50 Panel recording, “Bioneering,” may have parts that will ruffle some viewers but knowing the real issues and working to create fixes is the price of admission to into O’Neillian Islands and other off-Earth locations.

After a brief overview, session Host Dr. Jim Logan, cofounder of the Space Enterprise Institute and former NASA Flight Surgeon on Gene Kranz’s Mission Control Team, welcomes Dr. John Charles of Space Center Houston for a major dose of radiation and other killers.

Next, Morgan Irons of the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Founder of Deep Space Ecology, LLC gives a conference highlight: a Space-based Agriculture, Soil and Quasi-Closed  Technologies presentation to help us plan for moving into sustainable Habitats instead of sterile metal boxes.

Joe Carroll, President of Tether Applications Inc., brings reduced gravity issues, that all too often go un-mentioned even by professionals, right up to the forefront, and then Dr. Logan takes the podium again for a – sobering – view from his decades of work beyond the front line of Space.

This one is a doozy. “Bioneering,” the second panel of day two of SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise. Recorded September 10th, 2019 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

If during some parts of this video you start feeling a bit ill, I offer the sentence that Jonathan Norton Leonard wrote right after the quote at the top of this post: “But life tries everything over and over until something works.”

And Jim Logan’s upbeat, motivational sentence?  Let’s get to work on those fixes so maybe in a future session he will have one.

SSI 50: Lunch with Astronaut Dr. Yi Soyeon

Wilder than any Jackie Chan adventure!

Take that Jackie Chan!

Dr. Yi Soyeon, Mechanical Engineer, Biotechnologist, ISU Alumni and first South Korean Astronaut was in attendance at the September 2019 SSI 50 gathering and she took the podium during lunch on day two to give us all an amazing story of her rise through 36,000 candidates to the true Top of the Hill.

You may have heard a lot of Astronaut and Cosmonaut stories in your career but this is one that really stands out. Inspiring and often just plain funny, Dr. Yi’s short talk packs a big message and is great for the entire family to watch together. (That sounds like a commercial, but in this case it really is true.)

Recorded September 10th, 2019 at The Space Studies Institute’s SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise, held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

SSI 50: Space Access Transport and Logistics


The first major panel from day two of SSI 50 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle was great on multiple levels.  First and foremost the content was top notch, but then that is no surprise to Space Studies Institute Associates as we have had a very long and solid relationship with the membership of The Space Access Society (

Each year Rocketry and Space Hardware veterans and deeply dedicated amateurs travel from all points of the globe to attend the Space Access Society conferences, where everyone gets a full serving of the latest detailed information on the realities of hardware in an environment that is almost unbelievably conducive to learning and advancing in the Space Transport and Logistics fields.

Over the years since the last official Space Studies Institute Space Manufacturing gathering, Henry Vanderbilt and his crew have welcomed SSI for conferences within their conferences, and at SSI 50 we were very pleased and proud to return the favor.

And what a great Space Access session it was!

Henry kicked things off with a “Cowboy’s Guide to The Rocket Equation” and then handed the reins to Jon Schilling of the Aerospace Corporation and to Dallas Bienhoff, founder of Cislunar Development Corporation, and then came the Q&A.

This is a professional two hour long session, and everyone who watches can and will get a lot out of it.

Just between us, Henry records many of the Space Access Society meetings but so far not a heck of a lot of them have been made public.  In 2015, however, we asked if a session from SSI President Gary C Hudson could be put on the SSI YouTube channel and in short order a tape came in the mail.  It was one of the very first we ever presented on YouTube and it is still an important thing to see. If you can’t wait for the upcoming video of the SSI 50 Bioneering panel to come out, you might want to get a taste of some of it at this G-Lab page here on


Technology for Human Space Settlement