AIAA Publishes Workshop Proceedings Report from the ASCENDxCo-Lab on Economically Viable Lunar Settlements Written 17 September 2020

September 17, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the publication of “Ensuring Economically Viable Lunar Settlements,” a workshop proceedings report stemming from the space ecosystem event ASCEND.

Using “NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development” as a starting point, a panel of experts gathered at the ASCENDxCo-Lab on Economically Viable Lunar Settlement on 29 July 2020 to discuss a range of considerations that underlie the U.S. government’s goal of establishing a settlement on the moon as a gateway to further exploration of the solar system.

Panelists included:

A recording of the panel discussion is available on the ASCEND News Archive, along with a detailed summary of the key takeaways:

  • The government’s role and interests are a starting point for space exploration and lunar settlement.
  • Successful lunar settlement and operations will also hinge on traditional market-driven principles.
  • The role of the government should become limited as settlement becomes established.
  • Successful lunar settlement will fuel and be driven by innovation.
  • Diversity of all kinds will create the best chance for success.

Following the panel, the event convened a collaborative workshop among the more than 200 attendees, who represented academic institutions, commercial enterprises, government agencies, and professional societies from around the world. These conversations resulted in the publication of the AIAA proceedings report, “Ensuring Economically Viable Lunar Settlements.”

“ASCEND is bringing together the space community to create actionable steps to lead humanity beyond planet Earth for commerce, discovery and exploration. This report is a great example of how we can leverage focused virtual events to activate the community to create tangible products as a catalyst for innovation and progress." said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director.

The proceedings report was written by a team of graduate student volunteers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), led by Jessica Todd, a graduate research assistant in Aerospace Engineering in Autonomous Systems, and including George Lordos, Becca Browder, Benjamin Martell, and Cormac O’Neill. “These students jumped at the opportunity to get involved, and this paper will provide government and industry leaders a blueprint for the development of our off-world future ,” said Rob Meyerson, ASCEND executive producer and former president of Blue Origin.

The workshop was a part of the ASCENDxSeries of virtual events, designed to build toward the apex ASCEND event, to be held 16-18 November. Open to the public, the series has included presentations, panels, workshops, and half-day summits on topics such as space science and engineering, national security space, and space economics, as well as on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the space community and workforce. Recordings from previous activities and information about upcoming events in the series are available through the ASCEND Events Archive.

Media contact: Brian Talbot,, 703.980.4132

ASCEND stands for Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration and New Discovery and is designed to bring together technical and business leaders to solve problems that affect the entire planet and beyond. Powered by AIAA, the ASCENDxSeries has started conversations that will continue at the three-day event on 16–18 November 2020. For more information, please visit, or follow ASCEND on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.