TR: You’ve said that with VASIMIR technology, a trip to Mars could take as little as 39 days, and, with the development of nuclear power that we talked about, people may even travel in just a few weeks to anywhere in the solar system. What do you see happening in the next phase of space exploration? How will Ad Astra be involved?
FCD: I think lots of people are going to be moving into space. I think we will be populating the moon, building enclaves of research and even money-making ventures there. Just last month, Ad Astra signed an agreement with Excalibur Exploration Ltd., a British company, to mine asteroids [when the time is right]. I believe there will be a huge demand for resources, particularly water, from asteroids and comets, because taking water from the earth is going to be very expensive. We’re probably going to supply the moon and the habitat on the moon with water from comets.
TR: You sound very certain that humans will soon colonize space.
FCD: Someday, the earth will be a place humanity will come back to, sort of like our national park. I don’t mean to get rid of the earth like an old shoe. We need to protect it so that we can always come back to it.
TR: What’s the purpose of investing money trying to leave the planet? Shouldn’t we focus on fixing problems at home?
FCD: We’re investing in our survival. Like John Young says also, we are a species with no redundancy. If something ever happens to our planet, it could be the end of our civilization. Investing a few dollars to ensure the survival of the human species–I don’t think that’s too much.
TR: Can we realistically expect these things to pan out? After the Apollo missions, a lot of people thought they would soon be able to travel to the moon, but that hasn’t happened yet. Has anything changed?
FCD: For NASA and the government programs, the motive is not really exploration. It’s mainly national prestige. The process of going on missions is very slow. I just don’t think that model is going to get us too far very fast. I think that the dynamic nature of the private sector is what’s really going to kindle the fire. I think if you want to go to the moon, you might as well start thinking about packing your bags, because it’s going to happen very soon.