Former NASA rocket scientist presents ‘Space: The Next Frontier of Mining’ | VailDaily.com

Former NASA rocket scientist presents ‘Space: The Next Frontier of Mining’

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Dr. Joel Sercel, founder and CEO of TransAstra, will describe his company's aim to mine water in space in Leadville on Sept. 29. Sercel's patent-pending invention of Optical Mining plans to turn ordinary asteroids into functional gas stations in space.

LEADVILLE — Former NASA rocket scientist Dr. Joel Sercel will present "Space: The Next Frontier of Mining" at the Lake County High School auditorium on Friday, Sept. 29.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville welcomes Sercel, founder and CEO of TransAstra, an aerospace company dedicated to building the "transcontinental railroad of space."

The presentation is at 6:30 p.m. and the event is free.

GAS STATIONS IN SPACE

Sercel's presentation will describe his company's aim to mine water in space. With water's wide use as rocket fuel, radiation shielding and life-giving qualities for humans, plants and animals, extracting water from celestial bodies paves the way for further exploration and eventually tourism beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Sercel and his patent-pending invention of optical mining plans to evacuate asteroids and extract ingredients for rocket propellant, turning ordinary asteroids into functional gas stations in space. Sercel also has grants and plans to develop more technology space explorers can use in the near future.

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Sercel began his impressive career with NASA in the Jet Propulsion Lab. During his 14-year tenure, he taught systems engineering and space mission and satellite design at the graduate level at Caltech. He led the conception and definition of the NSTAR ion propulsion system currently in use on the Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the asteroid Ceres.

He has also spent time in the private sector developing technology in aerospace, defense, software and robotics. Sercel founded TransAstra to promote humanity's potential "to become (a) spacefaring species" with homesteads throughout the solar system.

He holds a Ph.D. and master's degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology with a doctoral dissertation in plasma physics as applied to space propulsion. Sercel's bachelor's degree was in engineering physics from the University of Arizona.

'SMITHSONIAN of the ROCKIES'

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is home to Harrison Schmitt's "Expanding Boundaries" exhibit, which explains his career as the first geologist on the moon and explores the potential of mining in space. Sercel's presentation builds on Schmitt's legacy.

"We are very excited to host Dr. Sercel as he shares his research, which is on the cusp of making mining in space a reality," said Francine Webber, event manager.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Leadville, is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development and processing of the nation's natural resources.

Known as the "Smithsonian of the Rockies" and the "Premier Showcase of American Mining," the museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits showcasing one of the nation's most comprehensive collections of mining's colorful history.

For more information, visit http://www.mininghalloffame.org.

If you go …

What: “Space: The Next Frontier of Mining,” presented by former NASA rocket scientist Dr. Joel Sercel.

Where: Lake County High School auditorium, Leadville.

When: Friday, Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit http://www.mininghalloffame.org.

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