What follows is a portion of the final report of
a NASA summer study, conducted in 1980 by request of newly-
elected President Jimmy Carter at a cost of 11.7 million dollars.
The result of the study was a realistic proposal for a self-
replicating automated lunar factory system, capable of
exponentially increasing productive capacity and, in the
long run, exploration of the entire galaxy within a reasonable
timeframe. Unfortunately, the proposal was quietly declined
with barely a ripple in the press.
What was once concievable with 1980's technology
is now even more practical today. Even if you're just skimming
through this document, the potential of this proposed system
is undeniable. Please enjoy.
Complete hard copies of this study are available from the
National Technical Information Service.
Web version last upgraded June 25, 1999.
Advanced Automation for Space Missions
Robert A. Freitas, Jr.
Santa Clara, California
William P. Gilbreath
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California
Proceedings of the 1980 NASA/ASEE Summer Study
Sponsored by the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration and the American Society for Engineering
Held at the University of Santa Clara
Santa Clara, California
June 23-August 29, 1980
NASA Conference Publication 2255
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Scientific and Technical Information Branch, 1982
Click here to see this picture
magnified x 4 (200k).
The painting above was created by Mr. Rick Guidice. It
captures the spirit of the space missions described in this study. In the
center of the picture are human beings who, we believe, will continue to
play a controlling role in future space missions. To the right of the circle
are two space systems representing a partially automated Space Manufacturing
Facility which would eventually utilize nonterrestrial resources. In the
upper-right corner is Saturn attended by its largest natural satellite
Titan, the proposed destination of our advanced space-exploration mission.
The upper-left corner depicts the deepest reaches of the Cosmos that humans
someday may explore. At center left is the Earth, which is under intensive
study by an intelligent Earth sensing information system that is able to
obtain and deliver data in a far more effective manner than present-day
methods. In the lower left corner, a lunar manufacturing facility rises
from the surface of the Moon. Someday, such a factory might replicate itself,
or at least produce most of its own components, so that the number of facilities
could grow very rapidly from a single seed.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- Figure 1.1 - Overview of NASA/ASEE 1980 Summer Study on Advanced Automation for Space Missions.
- Figure 1.2 - Comparison of linear and exponentiating (self-replicating) systems in production capability.
- 2. Terrestrial Applications: An Intelligent Earth-Sensing Information System
- 3. Space Exploration: The Interstellar Goal and Titan Demonstration
- 4. Nonterrestrial Utilization Of Materials: Automated Space Manufacturing Facility
- 5. Replicating Systems Concepts: Self-Replicating Lunar Factory and Demonstration
- Appendix 5A: First Attempt to Define a Self-Replicating System
- Appendix 5B: LMF Positional Transponder System
- Appendix 5C: LMF Paving Robot Subsystem
- Appendix 5D: LMF Mining Robots
- Appendix 5E: LMF Chemical Processing Sector
- Appendix 5F: LMF Parts Fabrication Sector
- Appendix 5G: LMF Assembly Sector
- Appendix 5H: Hierarchical System Architecture For Automated Design, Fabrication, And Repair
- Appendix 5I: LMF Solar Canopy Power Supply
- Appendix 5J: Complexity And Level Of Detail In Robot Programming
- Appendix 5K: Issues And Concepts For Further Consideration
- Table 5.1 - Seed Mass And Power Requirements Estimates
- Table 5.2 - Growth Rates And Productivity For Exponential SRS Expansion
- Table 5.3 - Average Chemical Element Abundances In Lunar Maria
- Table 5.4 - Developmental Milestones For A General Product Factory
- Table 5.5 - Economics Of Self-Replicating Factories
- Table 5.6 - Suggested Sources For GLARMF Development Studies
- Table 5.7 - A Sample Announcement Of Opportunity For SRS-Related Basic And Applied Research
- Table 5.8 - Horizon Distances For The Moon
- Table 5.9 - Properties Of Cast Basalt
- Table 5.10 - Typical Values For LMF Paving Robot Parameters
- Table 5.11 - Minimum Seed Element And Process Chemical Requirements
- Table 5.12 - Minerals Typically Found In Lunar Regolith (From Williams And Judwick, 1980)
- Table 5.13 - Maximum Mass Of Chemical Elements Extractable From Lunar Soil, Per Year, For A 100-Ton Seed With Extraction Ratio R = 40
- Table 5.14 - Hydrogen-Limited Materials Processing Reagents
- Table 5.15 - Comparison Of Chemical Processing Plant Masses And Power Requirements From Previous Related Studies
- Table 5.16 - Characteristics And Performance Of Various Lasers Commonly Used For Welding (Acharekar, 1974)
- Table 5.17 - Typical Performance Data For CO2 Welding/Cutting Lasers
- Table 5.18 - Comparison Of Fabrication Plant Masses And Power Requirements From Previous Related Studies
- Table 5.19 - Assembly Tasks For A One-Robot Configuration, To Assemble Small Motor Rotors
- Table 5.20 - Mass And Power Estimates For Assembly Systems From Various Sources
- Table 5.21 - Comparison Of Important Factors For Solar Canopy And Lunar Igloo Models Of Self-Replicating Or Growing LMF
- Figure 5.1 - Automated space exploration and industrialization using self-replicating systems.
- Figure 5.2 - Finite state automation cellular space.
- Figure 5.3 - Twenty-nine states of von Neumann's cellular automata.
- Figure 5.4 - Universal construction in the cellular model of machine self-reproduction.
- Figure 5.5 - Five basic classes of SRS behavior.
- Figure 5.6 - Functional schematic of unit replication SRS.
- Figure 5.7 - Work breakdown structure for SRS.
- Figure 5.8 - SRS materials processing subsystem.
- Figure 5.9 - SRS parts production plant subsystem.
- Figure 5.10 - SRS stationary universal constructor.
- Figure 5.11 - SRS mobile universal constructors.
- Figure 5.12 - Self-replicating lunar factory.
- Figure 5.13 - Possible growth plan with simultaneous replica construction, suitable for geometry of an SRS field.
- Figure 5.14 - SRS growth plan with sequential replication.
- Figure 5.15 - Functional schematic of unit growth SRS.
- Figure 5.16 - LMF chemical processing sector: Operations.
- Figure 5.17 - LMF parts fabrication sector: Operations.
- Figure 5.18 - LMF assembly sector: Operations.
- Figure 5.19 - Self-growing lunar factory.
- Figure 5.20 - Flexible scheduling of LMF operational phases.
- Figure 5.21 - Closure of SRS parts production.
- Figure 5.22 - Generalized closure engineering cycles.
- Figure 5.23 - Quantitative materials closure data for various self-replicating systems.
- Figure 5.24 - Limits to exponential and polynomial expansion of self-replicating interstellar probe populations dispersing throughout the galactic disk.
- Figure 5.25 - Natural evolution of complexity of matter in the cosmos.
- Figure 5.26 - Accessibility of biological and machine-stored information.
- Figure 5.27 - Population of extraterrestrial civilizations as a function of galactic time.
- Figure 5.28 - Schematic of simple robot self-replication.
- Figure 5.29 - Proposed demonstration of simple robot self-replication.
- Figure 5.30 - Schematic of simple robot replication exponentiation.
- Figure 5.31 - Relationship of three R&D approaches to SRS development and demonstration.
- Figure 5.32 - Suggested timeline for development and demonstration of replicating systems technologies.
- Figure 5.33 - Range circles for mobile robots using LMF transponder network for navigation.
- Figure 5.34 - Slab pattern of LMF cast basalt platform.
- Figure 5.35 - LMF paving robot optical geometry.
- Figure 5.36 - Tentative LMF paving robot design.
- Figure 5.37 - Lunar surface strip mining.
- Figure 5.38 - LMF mining robot design.
- Figure 5.39 - LMF constant-angle wedge corridor access route.
- Figure 5.40 - Raw material delivery to input hopper.
- Figure 5.41 - Flowsheet and process equations for the HF acid-leach process.
- Figure 5.42 - Computer-managed parts manufacturing.
- Figure 5.43 - Exploded view of SRI compressor cover assembly. (Rosen et al., 1978.)
- Figure 5.44 - Functional components of the Draper automobile alternator assembly robot. (Nevins and Whitney, 1978.)
- Figure 5.45 - Program logic for the GM/Delco IC "chip" inspection system.
- Figure 5.46 - Basic hierarchical system architecture.
- Figure 5.47 - Interank interface.
- Figure 5.48 - Morph I fabricator node.
- Figure 5.49 - Morph II fabricator node.
- Figure 5.50 - Morph III fabricator node.
- Figure 5.51 - Morph IV fabricator node.
- Figure 5.52 - Morph V fabricator node.
- Figure 5.53 - Selective disassembly of failed system.
- Figure 5.54 - Reassembly of repaired system.
- Figure 5.55 - Morph VI fabricator node.
- Figure 5.56 - Schematic of Solar Canopy and Lunar Igloo models of self-replicating or growing LMF.
- 6. Technology Assessment of Advanced Automation for Space Missions
- 7. Conclusions and Implications of Automation in Space