2023 In Review: Building Momentum Towards Lunar Impact

Open Lunar began the year with a simple mission: To embody our name in the work that we inspire. Thanks to the insight and leadership of Chelsea Robinson, Jessy Kate Schingler, Rachel Williams, and Harshita Khera, as well as the support of our Board and Community, we have moved confidently towards achieving it. 

It’s hard to even know where to start, so much has happened since January of this year. Our fellows, Samuel Jardine, Rachel Williams, and Philip Linden released significant contributions to the sector with their work on a Lunar Registry and Timekeeping and Lunar Clocks, respectively. Both of these projects continue to explore the next stages of their development. 

The Initiatives we support also continued to progress towards their goals, The Lunar Policy Platform released its first results - the Lunar Policy Priorities Decalogue - at the Paris Peace Forum, synthesizing over 40 stakeholder interviews and laying the foundations for additional exploration of key topics related to Lunar policy. The Breaking Ground Trust explored the nexus between Safety Zones and Lunar resources, continued advocacy for demonstrating innovative and alternative approaches to resource management, and welcomed new members to its Trust Stewardship Committee. 

The Registry Fellowship work progressed to the Concept stage, meaning it has been engaged in a process of assessing the technical and business case for moving it towards becoming an Initiative. Led by Rachel Williams, working with Open Lunar Fellow Eric Cremer, and also with Harshita Khera providing legal and strategic insight, the results of this work include a technical demo of the registry and a deep dive into the operating options. The results will be released in January of this year. 

In 2023 Open Lunar added the Affiliate program, which is the home for our expert advisors, trusted members of our community that we lean on for more regular support, and people whom we believe to be incredible, aligned advocates and ambassadors for our shared vision for the Moon. Affiliates support Open Lunar through project advising, ideation, evaluation support, and community engagement. We are working to expand and engage the affiliate program more in 2024. 

To coordinate and align this body of expertise with insight from the broader Lunar community, we were delighted to welcome Rachel Williams as Director of Innovation Programs in June of this year. Rachel and Chelsea immediately went to work convening a group of experts with a diversity of experience and perspectives to support the prioritization of a suite of ideas into our 2024 fellowship priorities. This process will continue to form the basis for how we choose fellowship priorities (we call them hunches) into the future. We had some incredible applicants for these fellowships and are excited to announce the final fellowships and fellows at an event this coming January. 

Open Lunar also engaged deeply with the global space community this year in support of our mission to understand and contribute to a third way of establishing a peaceful Lunar presence. We began the year by attending the Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative Convening. In March, we spoke at the Legal Subcommittee of COPUOS in our capacity as an official Observer. Open Lunar attended IAC Baku in October, where we presented our Registry concept. We were honored to be invited to APSCO’s convening in Lima, Peru, where we presented an overview of the Lunar policy landscape and opportunities for collaborative dialogue. We also delivered a keynote at Spaceport Norway, where we spoke about the importance of social license in the context of Lunar development. Open Lunar’s ED Jacob was selected as a Karman Fellow this year and joined other Karman fellows for an intensive week hosted by the Maldives Space Research Organization discussing opportunities for game-changing collaboration in the space sector. Open Lunar also attended the Paris Peace Forum, where we supported the launch of the Lunar Policy Platform’s report, synthesizing their intensive work on Lunar policy priorities. Finally, Open Lunar attended and spoke on the importance of equity and stakeholder engagement in the context of space resources at a Secure World Foundation and Korea Aerospace Research Institute workshop on in-situ resource utilization in Daejeon, South Korea. 

As always, the more you do, the more opportunities you create. Next year a north star for Open Lunar will be prioritization. We are excited to support our fellows and initiative leads with their work, while deploying a structured and intentional pathway to onboarding partnerships with other organizations that have aligned missions. We expect to continue to strive towards operating excellence while exploring how to improve and optimize our approach to innovation. 

Lastly, we are excited to refine our approach to community engagement. Community is the heart of Open Lunar. We have prioritized support for a diverse, engaged and active community. Our goal is to create a space that inspires, provides insight, and is enthusiastic about sharing our work with peers. We look forward to sharing the journey towards a peaceful Lunar future with you next year.