Paul Spudis

This is terrible, and a huge loss to the lunar development community. I just saw him in January at the lunar landing science workshop at Ames. He had finally come around to oppose SLS. Condolences to his family and other friends, RIP, and ad astra.

[Update a few minutes later]

More from Leonard David, who was as shocked by the news as I am. I hadn’t been aware that he had lung cancer.

[Update on June 8, 2021]

Paul’s widow, Anne, asked me to update this post to note that, contra a comment here, Paul had quit smoking in 1988, and was informed by his doctors that it was not the cause of his cancer.

9 thoughts on “Paul Spudis”

    1. There is a stigma associated with lung cancer inasmuch as the preponderance of people who have it are smokers or former smokers.

      On the other hand, lung cancer claims so many lives that the minority of its non-smoker victims amounts to a large number of people, putting non-smoker lung cancer on the list with breast, prostate, colo-rectal and pancreatic as one of the common forms of this killer.

      It is not my place to know, or to judge if I did know, whether Dr. Spudis smoked or not. I am just saying that even if we look after our health, we are at risk to this terrible disease, and my sympathies go to his family and others who knew him.

      1. Paul smoked like a chimney. I had the privilege to talk with him several times on issues related to lunar geology. He was a really nice guy so it is a terrible loss, but, sadly, another example of what can result from smoking.

  1. A true loss to Lunar Development work.

    I do not intend to get into a back and forth on this but “He had finally come around to oppose SLS.” If you look at the most recent iteration of his paper (written with Tony Lavoie) they were still making integral use of the SLS. Additionally I had been in e-mail contact with him as recently as July 2018 and that is simply counterfactual.

    Oppose SLS as much as you wish (at this point I could care less) but it would be polite to not recruit others to your cause without their permission.

    1. He told me personally that he had come to oppose its continuation. He may have been more reticent in his public opinions.

      His words to me at Ames in January (as well as I can recollect): “I’m like a mule that has to be hit between the eyes with a two by four to get my attention, but I finally get it.” I think Dennis Wingo may have been there, too. I know someone else was with us.

      1. A good, decent, and highly valuable individual has died. My sole purpose in commenting was to suggest it would be nice to simply pay honor to him without trying to use the occasion to further your political arguments.

        Leave out the sentence “He had finally come around to oppose SLS.” and your post would have been a nice eulogy. I reached the point long ago where I lost interest in the whole SLS argument (in no small part due to this kind bravo sierra).

        This will be my last comment on this subject.

    2. The first (2010) version of the Spudis & Lavoie paper has been my favorite vision of the way forward ever since it appeared. Unlike the later versions (2011 & 2016), it included a non-SLS-based option, which relied on nothing more than the Atlas V.

      On the Space Show one day, somebody asked Paul why SLS was needed. He replied that it “simplified the launch sequence,” by which he meant that with SLS there was no need to refuel in LEO before heading for the moon. But since the whole point of the Spudis & Lavoie vision is to lower the cost of getting into space by developing lunar propellant production, I really couldn’t understand the point of avoiding refueling. I suppose its possible that once the additional costs of getting propellant from the moon to LEO are factored in, direct launch is more attractive than it seems at first, but Spudis & Lavoie (2011 & 2016) did not make any such argument.

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