Announcing the Space Policy and History Forum #6: “Earth-Moon Space: The Art of the Possible, 2012-2022”

Announcing the sixth Space Policy and History Forum, “Earth-Moon Space: The Art of the Possible, 2012-2022,” presented by Thomas Jones on December 10 (Monday), 4:00-5:00 P.M., at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.


As the threat of sequestration and long-term deficits squeeze discretionary federal spending, the U.S. civil space program and NASA can expect no budget increases for the foreseeable future. Does NASA have any realistic prospect of sending human explorers beyond the space station?

By augmenting the planned Orion and heavy SLS booster development with international contributions, and using proven space station habitats, power hardware, and commercial launch and cargo services, the answer may be yes. A minimalist habitat and Orion crew vehicle could make multi-week visits to lunar orbit and the Earth-Moon Lagrange points.

Scientific and commercial activities enabled by this deep-space transportation system include robotic lunar rover tele-operations, collection and return of robotically collected lunar samples, and exploration and exploitation of a small (~500-ton) captured asteroid delivered to Earth-Moon L2. Preparations for such activities can begin immediately at the ISS.

Such operations in deep space would prepare NASA for lunar surface exploration, or eventual Near-Earth object expeditions. Commercial firms could open up nearby asteroids for prospecting and mining. To develop support for more challenging deep space exploration,NASA’s strategy should be to promote, through process demonstration and logistics demand, extensive commercial activity in Earth-Moon space.


Thomas D. Jones, PhD, is a scientist, author, pilot, and former NASA astronaut. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and in more than eleven years with NASA, flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. On his last flight, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and as a NASA contractor, developed advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system.

Tom is the author of three recent space and aviation books: Planetology, (written with Ellen Stofan), Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht (with Robert F. Dorr), and SkyWalking: An Astronaut’s Memoir. He writes frequently for Air & Space Smithsonian, Aerospace America, Popular Mechanics, and American Heritage magazines.

Dr. Jones’ awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service award, the NASAOutstanding Leadership Medal, Phi Beta Kappa, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, in 2007.

Tom served on the NASA Advisory Council and is a board member of the Association of Space Explorers. As a senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, he appears frequently ontelevision news, commenting on science and spaceflight. His current interests are planetary defense, asteroid and space resources, and the future direction of American space exploration.


The lecture will be held at the National Air and Space Museum, 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 4:00-5:00 p.m. Please RSVP to Nathan Bridges ( and Roger Launius ( so your name can be put on a list for access to the 3rd floor of the Museum, where we will be meeting in the Director’s Conference Room. Seating is limited so please RSVP early. You may check in and obtain a badge for access to the building at the guard desk just to the right as you enter the Independence Ave. doors.

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