In all geologic time, the responsibilities are on our generation ... including you ...

5.2: Fuel propellants

Asteroidal and lunar materials are rich in conventional fuel propellants, which are easily extracted. All of this is covered in the section on transportation section. See in particular the "chemical rockets" and "steam rockets" sections. This section just goes over some of their applications.

5.2.1 Fuel propellants for LEO to GEO transport services

The Space Shuttle can't go any higher than low Earth orbit (LEO), a few hundred kilometers up. Communications satellites going up to geostationary orbit (GEO) 36,000 km (22,500 miles) up, must be relaunched from LEO, using a chemically fueled orbital transfer vehicle. The fuel for this vehicle weighs twice as much as the satellite. That's right, every one ton of shuttle payload consists of 1/3 ton of cargo plus 2/3 ton of fuel, if its cargo is going up to GEO from LEO.

A reusable interorbital vehicle using fuel propellants derived from asteroids or lunar materials can come down and dock with a satellite launched from Earth and ferry it to its final orbit.

Thus, all Earth launch rockets, no matter how small, will be able to launch satellites for any orbital destination, including the geostationary market and even beyond Earth orbit, e.g., to an asteroid. Indeed, since they don't have to launch second stage fuel propellants, tank and rocket engine, they can increase their satellite launch capability -- launch bigger satellites.

There's a huge market awaiting the first entity to develop it.

The biggest challenge is the docking. But we've been docking in orbit for years upon years. All six Apollo missions docked in remote lunar orbit on the return trip, going back to 1969. There's also Skylab and the Russian Mir space station. Mir supply ships used automated docking countless times. (The one notorious Mir failure was a manual docking by a remote pilot due to equipment failure combined with bureaucrats who didn't care about the technical glitches and forced things by decree. We don't need or want a government bureaucracy to be involved in this service, so that it's done well and more economically.)

5.2.2 Fuel propellants for stationkeeping and maneuvering of near-future satellite constellations

In the competitive communications world, companies and individuals all over the world strive to offer a market for more convenient and enhanced communications.

Responding to these needs are companies like Motorola and Microsoft drawing up plans for constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit, e.g., for cellular communications, and in direct competition to the traditional phone companies (e.g., AT&T, MCI, Sprint, British Telecom, Telstra).

These plans are going to need a lot of fuel propellant in orbit for deployment and stationkeeping of the satellites, which will number in the hundreds.

Regarding stationkeeping, satellites are always being perturbed out of their normal orbits due to the gravitational tidal effects of the Moon and the Sun, as well as drag from Earth's atmosphere in low Earth orbits. They are stocked with stationkeeping propellants which they consume over time.

Bigger satellites, discussed later in this chapter, will offer more competitive, personal services. However, the bigger the satellites, the more stationkeeping propellants they will need, and the more fuel required to deliver them.

Many satellites in geosynchronous orbit end their life when they run out of stationkeeping propellants. Many of these satellites would be valuable to less developed nations. Retrofitting them with a new stationkeeping thruster and moving them to a new orbit slot where they can be resold would be a profitable business.

5.2.3 Fuel propellants for other emerging space transportation applications

Any payload going anywhere in space above low Earth orbit is a market for transportation services, including exploratory probes (scientific and commercial), next generation mining operations, and delivery of all kinds of products everywhere.

Repair missions will become feasible, both robotic and manned, with the introduction of abundant and affordable fuel propellants and transportation infrastructure. The topic of rescue and repair is discussed elsewhere in this "products" section of PERMANENT.

Some entities may be willing to pay for retrieval and disposal of their failed satellite before it plunges to Earth, for reasons of liability.

Indeed, with all the orbital debris, some funding mechanism might be set up to support a garbage truck going around and collecting debris.

Space station operations, both government and private, will be another large consumer.

Those wanting to build space stations from throw-away fuel tanks (discussed later in this chapter) will have a means to collect those tanks.

Altogether, the market for transportation services and fuel propellants is growing to the point where some entity is going to embark on a project to get these fuel propellants more economically and in great abundance from asteroidal and/or lunar sources, and deploy a fleet of reusable, refuelable interorbital vehicles. > Products and Services > Fuel and Propellants


PERMANENT needs a PHP / MySQL (actually, MariaDB) programmer. Are you a PHP / MySQL programmer interested in getting into space development as a career, or already working in space development? Or do you know somebody else who might be interested?

There is an ongoing process to update this website in 2019 with a target relaunch in 2020.
This website is actually very out of date. Much of the website text content was written in the 1980s to early 2000s, but that's a different matter. As regards PHP / MySQL, some offline databases go into the 2010s, as regards professional publications, engineers, companies, etc., and this is what we need programming help with. We are updating our databases on people, organizations, publications, and other things, for open source space development for all.

The current status is we have some working databases which we have been using internally for a long time for organizing professional publications, and to track people (authors, R&D people, other professionals, quality volunteers, journalists, etc.) and organizations. We want to put information online for the general public pending a security review of the programming code.

Step 1 is fixing some bugs in what we already have, the PHP code. It is functional, and been used a long time, but there are some bugs.
Step 2 will be improving the system. Some small improvements would help its usability.
Step 3 will be a security check for putting it online for the general public to be able to access and use, but with reasonable protection against hackers.
After Step 3, the main mission is accomplished, as regards PHP / MySQL, though of course we hope to keep people engaged and happy, and the sky's not the limit.

This is a volunteer, unpaid role at this point in time. A limited paid role would be considered on a tight budget, such as for at least bug fixing with some minor improvements, and/or a security review of our code before it goes online publicly. If you or one of your friends or associates may be interested, please send an email to spaceprogrammer at ... of course this domain.

Reasons to do something yourself:

  • It will help save life on our special planet -- be part of the solution in your generation.
  • It will create and secure a better future for your children and grandchildren.
  • It could be an interesting, cool, and a fun adventure for your life!

You can join us and volunteer to help out,

... or ...

If you're short on time, you can just donate:

The Permanent Space Development Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
If you would like to make a quick donation to our humanistic cause,
then please click on one of the buttons below (which go to PayPal).

... or by cryptocurrency (which is NOT tax deductible), you can donate into any of these wallets:





... or ...

Suggest this website to other people and organizations.

To get updates on PERMANENT (occasional, not frequent), get on our mailing list.

For general or specific e-mail regarding PERMANENT, please use our Feedback page.

Leave information about yourself in our people, companies, and organizations database.

If you are interested in hiring our expertise, anywhere in the world, please contact us.
We have people in the USA and Thailand, and can travel or consult by internet.
You can call anytime, 24/7, at +66-8-1135-7977

Text by Mark Prado, Copyright © 1983-2021, All Rights Reserved.
Many website artistic design elements by Sam Fraser, Copyright © 1999-2021, All Rights Reserved.

Except where specifically stated otherwise,
Copyright © 1983-2021 by Mark Evan Prado, All Rights Reserved


P rojects to E mploy R esources of the M oon and A steroids N ear E arth in the N ear T erm

please see our

Site Map

to navigate.

For PCs, this righthand
side has a floating menu,
but if your tablet
or your PCs web browser
do not run
-- javascript --
then you must
-- navigate --
using the Site Map above.