Space Resources

DEGREES OFFERED

  • Certificate in Space Resources
  • Master of Science in Space Resources (Non-Thesis)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Space Resources

Programs in Space Resources

This program is targeted to train recent graduates, as well as professionals interested in expanding their knowledge and skills to address the opportunities and challenges in space resource exploration and utilization.  A 12-credit hour Post-Baccalaureate Certificate will require a set of three core courses (8 credit hours) taught by the program, a required 1-credit hour seminar course, and a technical elective chosen from a few selected key disciplines.  These courses will also form a required set of core courses for the MS-NT program and for Ph.D. students entering the program without a relevant M.S. degree.

For the M.S. degree program, in addition to the 12 credit hours, an additional program design course will be required. Beyond that, students will take elective courses taught by departments from around the campus in one or more of five tracks as listed here:

  • Remote Sensing, Prospecting, and Resource Assessment;
  • Resource Extraction, Material Processing, and Refining;
  • Power and Energy;
  • Robotics, Autonomy, and Communications;
  • Economics and Policy.

These tracks will facilitate students’ focusing on critical technical topics in space resources including resource assessment, prospecting, materials extraction and processing, telecommunications, control and automation, power systems management, and techno-economic analysis.  Students in the MS-NT and Ph.D. programs will have at least two project-oriented design and analysis courses, where students will practice design and system analysis in space systems for responsible exploration and stewardship of space resources.  A student who completes a Ph.D. in Space Resources will possess all the training of a Master’s degree holder with further specialization in one or more areas within the space resources field.  The completed doctoral dissertation will make original contributions to the field.

The curricula for the graduate program in Space Resources will engage disciplines from all three Colleges at Mines – the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS), the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering (CERSE), and the College of Applied Science and Engineering (CASE).  Space Resources touches on physical sciences, engineering, and social science/policy fields and thus, interdisciplinary training and community is necessary to support a vibrant and successful degree program. As such, this program can only be successful as an interdisciplinary degree program with a Faculty Executive Committee of engaged members from many academic Departments.

The graduate program for Space Resources will include the following

  • a 12-credit-hour post-baccalaureate Certificate in Space Resources offered online,
  • a 30-credit Master of Science Non-Thesis (MS-NT) degree in Space Resources with some online course offerings for students to complete the degree remotely,
  • a Ph.D. program in Space Resources requiring 36 credit hours of coursework, 36 credit hours of research, and the standard on-campus residency requirement.

Post-baccalaureate Certificate

This option will require the students to take 12 credit hours and involve course which will all be offered online.  Currently, the online offerings will be in a synchronous manner to foster critical community building within the program.  The courses will be offered in both Fall and Spring semesters.

Table 1 lists the courses that will comprise the curriculum for the 12-credit hour Certificate.  The program faculty will offer the first four program specific courses synchronously online every semester.  

The SPRS591 project course will be directed by a program faculty member, who will collaborate with partnering companies to develop non-proprietary design projects and economic feasibility studies for students to participate in and learn through a space-oriented design and/or analysis study.  The SPRS503 course will be a required seminar course which can be attended remotely wherein students will listen to monthly distinguished speakers in the field and in off weeks present to each other about research and development in the Space Resources field related to their own work and interests.

Table 1 – Required courses for 12-credit-hour Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Space Resources

SPRS501SPACE RESOURCES FUNDAMENTALS3.0
SPRS502SPACE SYSTEMS ENGINEERING3.0
SPRS503SPACE RESOURCES GRADUATE SEMINAR1.0
SPRS591SPACE RESOURCES DESIGN AND ANALYSIS I2.0
SPRS TECHSPACE RESOURCES TECHNICAL ELECTIVE3.0
Total Semester Hrs12.0

Technical Elective 3.0 Elective from Table 3 (topics such as, planetary science, remote sensing, mineral economics, materials extraction, and electrochemical systems engineering)

The final course for the post-baccalaureate Certificate will be an elective wherein the student can take one of a few core technical electives related to Space Resources.  The electives will be chosen from courses on topics such as planetary science, remote sensing, mineral economics, materials extraction, and electrochemical systems engineering.  These elective courses are listed in Table 3.  It is expected that some of these courses will be offered online in the future to ensure that students can complete the Certificate remotely.

Master of Science (Non-Thesis)

The Master of Science degree program will be exclusively non-thesis (MS-NT).  The MS-NT degree program, coursework, will require 30 credit hours of coursework and start with the twelve credit hours tied to the Certificate program.  The additional 18 credit hours for the MS-NT degree program are laid out in part in Table 2.

All of the courses identified as program core courses with the SPRS (MEGN) code in Table 1 and Table 2 will be offered online.  We expect that many of the elective courses associated with this program will also eventually be offered synchronously online, so that students can complete the MS-NT degree remotely as part of the program.  This may be done through hiring adjuncts to teach some of the courses or through adopting some of the existing offerings by current Mines faculty to synchronous online delivery or a synchronous /asynchronous combination.  The process of getting the necessary number of courses and in particular electives and mathematical courses will take time as Mines moves to offering an increasing number of courses online.  As such, the program will allow students at Mines to take courses with traditional in-class delivery during the period of transition.  It is hoped that by the end of two-three years all students will be able to take all elective courses online.

The courses include a second-semester of project related courses in which the students go more into depth on design and analysis for space systems related to resource applications.  This project may be extensions of projects from the first design course presented in Table 1.  In addition, MS-NT degree students will be required to take a mathematical or computational methods course relevant to their field of interest/study (engineering, physics, economics, etc), and approved courses will be selected by the Faculty Executive Committee based on what mathematical or computational methods course will be available as online offerings from Mines.  MS-NT degree students will also be expected to participate in the seminar course for zero-credit each semester they are enrolled in 2 or more courses toward their degree.

Table 2 – Technical electives for the 18-credit hours required in addition to 12 credit hours in Table 1 for a Master of Science Non-thesis degree in Space Resources

SPRS592SPACE RESOURCES DESIGN AND ANALYSIS II3.0
SPRS ENG/ECOADVANCED ENGINEERING OR ECONOMIC ANALYSIS COURSE3.0
SPRS TECHTECHNICAL ELECTIVE See Table 33.0
SPRS TECHTECHNICAL ELECTIVE See Table 33.0
SPRS TECHTECHNICAL ELECTIVE See Table 33.0
SPRS TECHTECHNICAL ELECTIVE See Table 33.0
Total Semester Hrs18.0

Advanced Engineering or Economic Analysis Course 3.0 - A course on mathematical analysis and/or numerical methods relevant for students’ technical area of interest selected from existing courses offered in various departments.

Technical Electives  - Three approved elective courses from Table 3 (with topic such as, planetary science, remote sensing, mineral economics, materials extraction, and electrochemical systems engineering)

The remaining 12 credit hours toward the MS-NT degree program will be chosen from a suite of courses tied to fundamental and applied topics relevant to space resources science, engineering, and economics that will eventually be offered online.  Current courses proposed for these tracks are listed in Table 3 from the existing graduate bulletin and suggested by participating departments in the Space Resources program.  The Faculty Executive Committee will work with course faculty, Departments, and interested adjunct professors from relevant industries that have a strong Colorado presence to move toward eventually creating online versions of these listed elective courses in order to support the remote students participating in the MS-NT program.

Table 3 – Elective courses for selected tracks to complete the MS-NT program in Space Resources.

Elective Track & Description and purpose
Remote Sensing, Prospecting, and Resource Assessment

GEGN401MINERAL DEPOSITS4.0
GEGN403MINERAL EXPLORATION DESIGN3.0
GEOL410PLANETARY GEOLOGY2.0
GPGN470APPLICATIONS OF SATELLITE REMOTE SENSING3.0
GPGN475PLANETARY GEOPHYSICS3.0
MNGN510FUNDAMENTALS OF MINING AND MINERAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT3.0
PHGN566MODERN OPTICAL ENGINEERING3.0

Resource Extraction, Material Processing, and Refining

CBEN550MEMBRANE SEPARATION TECHNOLOGY3.0
MNGN503MINING TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT3.0
MNGN514MINING ROBOTICS3.0
MNGN515MINE MECHANIZATION AND AUTOMATION3.0
MTGN531THERMODYNAMICS OF METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS PROCESSING3.0
MTGN539PRINCIPLES OF MATERIALS PROCESSING REACTOR DESIGN3.0
PEGN508ADVANCED ROCK PROPERTIES3.0
PEGN517DRILLING ENGINEERING PRINCIPLES3.0
PEGN519ADVANCED FORMATION EVALUATION3.0
PEGN590RESERVOIR GEOMECHANICS3.0

Systems Engineering and Power

CBEN509ADVANCED CHEMICAL ENGINEERING THERMODYNAMICS3.0
EENG580POWER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS ENGINEERING3.0
EENG581POWER SYSTEM OPERATION AND MANAGEMENT3.0
MEGN561ADVANCED ENGINEERING THERMODYNAMICS3.0
MEGN569FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY3.0
MEGN571ADVANCED HEAT TRANSFER3.0
MEGN593ENGINEERING DESIGN OPTIMIZATION3.0

Automation and Communications

CSCI572COMPUTER NETWORKS II3.0
CSCI575MACHINE LEARNING3.0
EENG525ANTENNAS3.0
EENG527WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS3.0
MEGN544ROBOT MECHANICS: KINEMATICS, DYNAMICS, AND CONTROL3.0
MEGN545ADVANCED ROBOT CONTROL3.0

Economics and Policy

CEEN592ENVIRONMENTAL LAW3.0
CEEN594RISK ASSESSMENT3.0
EBGN504ECONOMIC EVALUATION AND INVESTMENT DECISION METHODS3.0
EBGN510NATURAL RESOURCE ECONOMICS3.0
EBGN535ECONOMICS OF METAL INDUSTRIES AND MARKETS3.0
EBGN560DECISION ANALYSIS3.0
MNGN501REGULATORY MINING LAWS AND CONTRACTS3.0
MNGN585MINING ECONOMICS3.0
PEGN530ENVIRONMENTAL, ENERGY, AND NATURAL RESOURCES LAW3.0

Ph.D. in Space Resources

The Ph.D. degree program requires 72 total credit hours, consisting of at least 36 credit hours of courses beyond the B.S. and at least 36 research credit hours.  Ph.D. coursework beyond the M.S. degree program will not be restricted other than approved by the student’s advisor and dissertation committee.  Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree in a relevant engineering or science field will be expected to take at least 12 credit hours from the courses approved for the certificate and MS-NT program.

In accordance with other Ph.D. programs at Mines, students in the Space Resources Ph.D. degree program must successfully complete qualifying examinations, defend their written dissertation proposal, and write and defend a doctoral dissertation.  Ph.D. research is aimed at fundamentally advancing the state of art in Space Resources.  Ph.D. students are expected to submit the dissertation work for at least two archival publications in scholarly journals and present research findings in at least one professional conference.  Students are also required to participate in the Space Resources seminar series both by attending seminars of distinguished speakers and by presenting their research on no less than an annual basis. 

Ph.D. students in the Space Resources program will be advised by a faculty advisor affiliated with the program and by an interdisciplinary Doctoral committee, which must contain a majority of faculty affiliated with the program.  The Ph.D. degree program culminates in a research dissertation that significant scholarly contribution to Space Resources as a field.  Full-time enrollment is strongly encouraged and in accordance with all other graduate programs at Mines, the Ph.D. program will have a two-semester minimum residency requirement as described in the general section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Space Resources, there will be significant demands for flexibility in the Program’s curriculum and faculty instructors to allow for students with a diverse range of backgrounds to enter and succeed in their targeted degree program.  As such, the degree program is structured in such a way that students from the diverse backgrounds can expand their commitment as they progress through the program offerings. 

Graduates from the Space Resources program with either an M.S. or Ph.D. degree will serve the growing needs of industry, government, and academia to develop and utilize space resources.  Students, who complete the M.S. in Space Resources will have a broad, multi-disciplinary understanding of the overall flow of activities in the development of space resources, a high-level exposure to the different science and engineering disciplines involved in each phase and an understanding of the current state of affairs in space resource across academia, government and industry.  A master’s degree holder will be able to make immediate contributions to any government agency or company pursuing technical activities related to space resources.  Ph.D. degree holders will be able to pursue post-doctoral positions in academia or contribute as a specialist in industry or government.

This interdisciplinary collaboration will be sustained through a governing Faculty Executive Committee, whose current members include tenured and tenure-track faculty in 10 different Departments, as well as core research faculty and a professor of practice in the Center for Space Resources at Mines.  The Faculty Executive Committee will be led by Prof. Greg Jackson from Mechanical Engineering, who will serve as the interim Program Director by approval of the Provost.

SPRS501. SPACE RESOURCES FUNDAMENTALS. 3.0 Semester Hrs.

(I, II) This course provides an overview of the space resources field, including the current knowledge of available resources in the Solar System, extraction and utilization systems under development, economic and technical feasibility studies, legal and policy issues, and space exploration architectures that may be enabled by utilizing extraterrestrial resources in the near future. The course will build broad knowledge and develop confidence in problem solving in the space resources field. Prerequisite: Working knowledge of physical sciences, engineering fields, or economics at an advanced undergraduate level, with basic numerical analysis skills using a programming language or spreadsheet calculations. 3 hours lecture; 3 semester hours.

SPRS502. SPACE SYSTEMS ENGINEERING. 3.0 Semester Hrs.

(I, II) This course conveys the fundamentals of the systems engineering process as applied to large, complex space systems. It is intended for graduate students with various backgrounds. The students will become familiar with full scope of the systems engineering process from requirements definition, system design, system analysis through system verification. The process will be illustrated with real-world examples from current space systems with an emphasis on systems relevant to the development of space resources. Co-requisite: SPRS501. 3 hours lecture; 3 semester hours.

SPRS503. SPACE RESOURCES GRADUATE SEMINAR. 1.0 Semester Hr.

(I, II) The Space Resources Graduate Seminar will engage graduate students in the program with current research and developments related to space resources assessment, extraction, and utilization. The course, which will meet once a week, will provide students opportunities to engage with invited guest speakers who are industry, government, and academic leaders in the space resources field. Students will be asked to prepare a few short reports on research related to guest speaker seminars. Students will also prepare and deliver at least one technical presentation on their own work and/or that of others and lead a discussion on the topic of interest. This course will instill knowledge and confidence in the students to enable them to critique, articulate, and present concepts and relevant research and development in space resources. Co-requisite: SPRS501. 1 hour seminar; 1 semester hour.

SPRS591. SPACE RESOURCES DESIGN AND ANALYSIS I. 2.0 Semester Hrs.

(I, II) This course will provide graduate students in the program with directed team-based project learning by exploring the design, planning, and analysis of a mission, process, or systems for space resources assessment, extraction, and/or utilization. The course will meet formally twice a week for one hour and include a 10-15 minute discussion on relevant design aspects of space mission, processes, and/or systems. In this regard, it will build on content learned in the Space Resources Fundamental and Space Systems Engineering courses. Students will collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams of up to 5 students. Teams will be advised by the course instructor with significant industrial aerospace design experience and supported by faculty affiliated with the Space Resources program from relevant disciplines on campus. For teams with students in space resource economics, detailed economic analysis will be incorporated into those projects. Student teams will prepare a preliminary design, planning and analysis report early in the semester, one interim progress report, and a final report and project presentation. This course will guide the students and teach them good design and analysis practices and principles for missions and/or systems related to space resources. Co-requisites: SPRS501 and SPRS502. 2 hours lecture; 2 semester hours.

SPRS592. SPACE RESOURCES DESIGN AND ANALYSIS II. 3.0 Semester Hrs.

(I, II) The Space Resources Design and Analysis II course will provide graduate students in the MS-NT and Ph.D. degree programs in Space Resources with an independent design and analysis project. This project, which will be guided by the course instructor and a technical advisor, will enable the student to delve deeply into a particular system related to space resources prospecting, extraction, processing, and/or utilization. As much as possible, projects will be coordinated with industrial or government agency partners who are collaborating with the program. The course will involve weekly meetings with the course instructor and all students in the course where ideas are exchanged and progress discussed within the context of design and analysis principles learned in the pre-requisite course SPRS591. Students will be partnered with a faculty member affiliated with the Space Resources program. The student will prepare a final report and presentation to present to industry collaborators, space resources faculty, and other students in the course. The final report and/or presentation as appropriate will be converted to a journal or conference publication and/or presentation and resources from the program will support student costs for publishing and/or presenting the work. Prerequisite: SPRS591. 3 hours lecture; 3 semester hours.