Pre-Conference Short Course

Space Mining and Planetary Surface Construction
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014  |  Noon - 8 p.m.  |  $250

Robert Mueller
(Senior Technologist for Advanced Projects Development, NASA Kennedy Space Center)
Dr. Leslie Gertsch 
(Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Other distinguished professionals

This 8-hour short course is designed for engineers who are planning to participate in the exploration of space. It is intended especially for civil engineers working in space exploration and aerospace engineers working on surface site preparation.

  • New Space Professionals
  • Aerospace Professionals
  • NASA Managers and Engineers

Pre-Conference Short Course Schedule
Time Topic Instructor

12:00-12:05 pm
12:05-12:30 pm
12:30-1:00 pm
1:00-1:30 pm

Course Introduction
Soil and Rock Mechanics Basics
Orbital Dynamics of Mining Basics
Surface Environments Basics
1:30-1:45 pm BREAK

1:45-3:15 pm



Surface Construction Engineering
   Site Characterization
   Foundations and Lateral Support
   Roads and Ground Improvement
   Building with Regolith




3:15-3:30 pm BREAK 

3:30-5:00 pm



Subsurface Access
   Drilling and Excavation
   Tunneling Methods
   Underground Space and Ground Stability




5:00-5:15 pm BOX DINNER

5:15-5:45 pm
5:45-6:15 pm
6:15-6:45 pm

Mining Introduction
Mining Methods
Beneficiation and Processing
6:45-7:00 pm BREAK
7:00-7:25 pm
7:25-7:50 pm
7:50-8:00 pm
Robotic Systems
Future Concepts & Implementation
Course Closure

The exploration of space is more than rockets and satellites. To be sustainable, human and robotic activities in space require the ability to produce commodities from non-terrestrial natural resources, and the ability to build structures on non-terrestrial surfaces.  Many have dreamed about this, but you can start preparing to make it happen. This is an introduction to the fundamentals of engineering with dirt (regolith) and rock as they will be applied to the exploration of space. 

This short course is the first of its kind to address the new fields of space mining and planetary surface construction. It will reduce the technical and programmatic miscommunication that often occurs when geotechnical, geological, tunneling, and mining engineers interact with aerospace engineers. Each community brings vital knowledge and experience to the problems of living and working with rock and dirt (regolith) off the Earth.


  • Discover the basics of how to work with dirt, soil, regolith, and rock off the Earth.
  • Find out the different ways of gaining access to the subsurface, whether in asteroids, on the Moon, or on Mars.
  • Learn how to plan a mine and to develop new mining methods.
  • Determine how to incorporate the enormous distances of the inner Solar System in your mining project.
  • Be the first in your company to be able to handle rocket science and regolith engineering at the same time.

Learning Objectives:

1.1.  soil and rock mechanics basics

1.2.  orbital dynamics of space mining

1.3.  planetary surface environments 


2.1.  site characterization

2.2.  foundations and lateral support

2.3.  roads and ground improvement

2.4.  building with regolith

3.1.  drilling & excavation

3.2.  tunneling methods

3.3.  underground space and ground stability 


4.1.  introduction to mining, the mining cycle, and unit operations

4.2.  surface and underground mining methods

4.3.  beneficiation and processing of ores

5.1.  robotic systems for space mining and planetary surface construction

5.2.  future concepts, implementation, and roadmapping