How It All Started

In 1995, LtCol Dale Tietz and Dr. Bill Stone reviewed the data from the Clementine satellite mission for the first time together. Tietz, who had directed space-based portions of the Pentagon's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program, pointed out the strong possibility that constituents of water were detected by bistatic radar returns at the South Pole of the Moon––specifically at Shackleton crater. NASA and SDI scientists were ecstatic!  Stone, who had developed designs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to boost expended Space Shuttle external tanks into orbit and convert them into industrial laboratories and propellant depots, saw something else in the data. His team had calculated the propellant needs for landing commercial spacecraft on the Moon. In the Clementine and Lunar Prospector data he realized––that with unlimited quantities of lunar ice in the deep, cold trap craters––the opportunity to generate large quantities of rocket propellants at Shackleton and  Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to refuel vehicles in cis-lunar space.  The real moneymaker was to ship raw water to LEO for processing into liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellants to then sell at significantly reduced prices than anything available on Earth--on demand--to all space farers. 

In November 1996, the Clementine mission reported detection of water ice on the South Pole of the Moon. Image credit: NASA.

In November 1996, the Clementine mission reported detection of water ice on the South Pole of the Moon. Image credit: NASA.

On 5 March 1998 it was announced that data returned by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft indicated that water ice might be present at both the North and South Lunar Poles - in agreement with interpretations of Clementine results for the South Pole. Image credit: NASA.

On 5 March 1998 it was announced that data returned by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft indicated that water ice might be present at both the North and South Lunar Poles - in agreement with interpretations of Clementine results for the South Pole. Image credit: NASA.

This concept would forever change the logistics and economics game of operating beyond LEO in space, despite the fact a national decision was make to cancel Stone's futuristic Shuttle tank program and leave it to industry to work the problem. 

Over the next 12 years Stone and Tietz continually refined the business calculations and expeditionary implementation plan to deliver lunar propellant and life support consumables to LEO and do so at a profit. The plans were kept quiet because it was felt, until 2007, that the demand side of the business was not sufficiently defined. The advent, beginning in the fall of 2004, of a viable and burgeoning space tourism industry bent on delivering paying passengers to eventual hotels in LEO and beyond, convinced the team that it was finally time to go public with the concept. In March of 2007, Stone discussed the topic at the TED conference in Monterey, California along side Richard Branson. In 2008  Shackleton Energy Company was founded with Jim Keravala who expanded the project into a full space infrastructure program. The SEC Business Plan is complete and we are now in discussions with investors throughout the world.

 


What's in the Name?

Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), British Imperial Antarctic Expedition "Nimrod - Expedition", 1907 -1909 Public Domain, from "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I, by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 364.

Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), British Imperial Antarctic Expedition "Nimrod - Expedition", 1907 -1909

Public Domain, from "The Heart of the Antarctic", Volume I, by E. H. Shackleton, 1909. P. 364.

We decided to call our company Shackleton Energy for three reasons:

1. The man: Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led three British expeditions to Antarctica in the early 1900s, is considered one of the world’s greatest explorers of his time. He was all about extraordinarily bold leadership, endurance and beating the odds.

2. The crater:  The South Pole lunar crater called Shackleton Crater in the honour of the explorer, was proposed by NASA in the 2004 timeframe to be the primary landing site for human return to the Moon. This crater coincidentally is also one of the most lucrative mining sites that contains hundreds of millions of tonnes of lunar ice ready for extraction and rocket propellant production, as well as other volatiles for life support.

3. Energy:  In addition to naming our company for the explorer and the crater, we also call it an “energy” company. We are geared to produce water and in space water can be used to produce energy for power (rocket propellants), life (living, breathing, growing) and manufacturing.