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Long hauler: Colorado-based venture wants to develop space trucks

April 6, 2017 Updated: April 7, 2017 at 7:13 am
Caption +
This photo provided by United Launch Alliance shows a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying GOES-R spacecraft for NASA and NOAA lifting off from Space Launch Complex-41 at 6:42 p.m. EST at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. The most advanced weather satellite ever built rocketed into space Saturday night, part of an $11 billion effort to revolutionize forecasting and save lives. (United Launch Alliance via AP)

The chief executive officer of United Launch Alliance, the nation's largest private rocket operator, wants to operate a fleet of "space trucks" that would ferry cargo and people between Earth and the moon to create a $3 trillion economy in space that will eventually include people living and working in lunar colonies.

Salvatore "Tory" Bruno, who has headed the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture in Centennial since 2014, outlined his dream during a panel discussion Wednesday at the 33rd annual Space Symposium and told a group of entrepreneurs on the podium and in the audience that he needs innovative startups to help make it happen.

"I'm on a mission to produce a manned presence outside of this planet and I am going to build a railroad between here and the moon," Bruno said. "The key is a flexible space transportation system, a fleet of space trucks that are reusable and stay in space. When we do this there will be a $3 trillion economy in space and 1,000 people will be living and working in space. That will change everything here on Earth. If precious metals were not longer expensive, what will that do for humankind if we can accomplish this in the next 20-30 years."

The company's vision, called "Cislunar 1000," calls for space manufacturing, commercial habitats and prospecting for space metals within five years, space tourism and mining for rocket fuel on the moon within 15 years and asteroid mining, large-scale manufacturing and people living on the moon within 30 years.

Reaching Bruno's ambitious goal will require plenty of innovative ideas from entrepreneurs - "not just one guy with a great idea but a lot of people with great ideas." He was one of seven panelists discussing innovation moderated by an official from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and featured three companies selected for the agency's iTech program, a yearlong initiative to find innovative ideas with the most potential impact on future space exploration. The agency provided no funding for the 10 companies selected in the first round but gives them visibility to attract investors.

The three companies included:

- Aequor Inc., which is developing bacteria originally found in the ocean to eliminate biofilm that clouds the lenses of space sensors and fouls water supplies in space.

- Innamed Inc., which is developing a testing system for chronically ill patients that could also be used to monitor the health of crew members on long space missions, including voyages to Mars.

- Liberty Biosecurity, which is developing a molecule that can help the body repair DNA and protect space travelers from long-term exposure to radiation.

The deadline for companies to apply for the next round of the iTech program by submitting five-page white papers on their innovation is Friday. Another 10 companies will be selected by June 1.


Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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