John Strickland‘s two volume work on Space Development is monumental. It addresses a critical gap in our national and international conversation on space. It fills an important niche providing a tool for the autodidact (self-taught) enthusiast to understand and take part in meaningful debates about the strategic design of both the sequence and systems essential developing space. John brings a lifetime of study and decades of leadership work with other thought leaders in the National Space Society or NSS who have long labored to develop the NSS Space Development Roadmap. The NSS is a grassroots organization who has long been the vanguard of the space movement. John’s deep knowledge in the subject shines forth. His co-author Sam Spencer brings detailed knowledge of mineralogy, mining and industrial methods and applies it to space mining.
Unlike technical books which are in many ways inaccessible to the lay reader, Developing Space is immediately accessible to the complete novice. But unlike so many books aimed at the common man that provide pictures and few numbers or little appreciation of the difficulties involved in engineering space systems, John meticulously educates the reader and provides a record so you can “check his math.” No equivalent exists. A reader would have to decipher a host of individual technical papers–and our community’s specific technical jargon–to come even close. Even assembling such a collection would be much less accessible to the common man, and even then it would lack the strategic unity of common purpose. John’s two part series is a symphony in its integration of purpose and logistics. This is not a book that celebrates the past, but one that celebrates the processes of designing and planning for an ambitious future. It is in essence the first textbook for how one should approach design for ambitious projects in the solar system.
In this first volume the reader is introduced to the broader questions of “why settle space” and important distinctions between exploration and development, between expendable and reusable architectures, between on-off flags and footprints and sustainable logistical systems. Those become key themes in “living off the land” with resources found in space. Here Sam details what we can accomplish in our near abroad using materials from the Moon, Mars and Asteroids. John then walks the reader through the development of an entire architecture to support initial settlements on Mars—and explains rationales of diverse architecture choices being considered by others (such as Lockheed and SpaceX). John gently introduces normally difficult concepts such as the rocket equation, Delta V in such an easy, methodical way, that the reader will easily feel that they too understand what it takes to have a successful launch vehicle, propellant depot, or lander. The reader can’t help but form opinions on selection of propellant.
When it comes to the issue of where to settle space in the second volume: “Settling Space”, John takes the “all of the above” option, and misses nothing, covering detailed designs for rotating settlements in free space, solar power satellites, and settlements on Mars. Without any magic steps, John moves from his basic logistics architecture to the requirements for construction of settlements, and details their requirements, with resource recovery methods developed by Sam.
While John has gathered together many of the best ideas in the community, he also brings a wealth of original thinking and design. John has broken entirely new ground in engineering the tools of industrial facilities, including designs for propellant depots and most impressively with his elegant Jig Factories, beautifully illustrated by digital artist Anna Nesterova.
This series should be a reference textbook for anyone interested in space development. I regarded the text so highly that advance copies have already been used to shape the minds of future Air Force officers who will one day be charged with providing security for the project of human expansion into space.
Peter Garretson, Lt Col, USAF
Lead, Space Horizons Research Task Force
Air Command and Staff College