Bill Asks for NASA Report on Establishment of Space Resources Institute

A vision of a future Moon base that could be produced and maintained using 3D printing. (Credit: RegoLight, visualisation: Liquifer Systems Group, 2018)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill seeking a report on whether NASA should establish a space resources institute has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The measure, sponsored by Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), would give NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine six months to submit a report on the benefits of and options for establishing an institute that would be focused on:

  • “identifying, developing, and distributing space resources, including by encouraging the development of foundational science and technology; and,
  • “reducing the technological risks associated with identifying, developing, and distributing space resources.”

The institute could be based in a physical location or established virtually, the bill stated. It also could include partnerships with universities and companies representing the aerospace and extractive industries.

In a press release, the National Space Society (NSS) said it “enthusiastically supports” the measure.

NSS has long called for the utilization of space resources to ensure that space exploration, development, and settlement become cost-effective and sustainable.

Chair of the NSS Executive Committee Dale Skran stated, “Establishing a space resources institute to investigate potential technologies and techniques for finding, extracting, and utilizing space resources, including water, minerals, and solar energy, would be a rational next step on the way to enabling sustainable space settlement.”

H.R. 1029 outlines various resource-related roles for the Institute, such as promoting foundational science and technology; reducing technological risks; and enabling architectures, programs, and missions that otherwise would not be possible.

NSS Executive Vice President Alfred Anzaldua added, “An institute such as that called for by H.R. 1029 could become the lynch pin in a national drive to utilize the vast resources of space for the betterment of humankind, while mitigating the negative consequences of extracting finite terrestrial resources.”

Space resources hold the potential to lessen the negative impact of human development on planet Earth. There is far more water in the moons of our solar system than in all the oceans of Earth. There is are millions of times more metals and minerals available in the asteroids than here on Earth. For more information about the National Space Society’s plan for the development of space resources leading to space settlement see the 2019 Third Edition of its Roadmap to Space Settlement at: space.nss.org/roadmap.

Read the full bill.