Home Announcement, 2007/09/28
Interview with Fred Bourgeois, 2007/09/28
Friday, 28 September 2007 12:48

In announcing their intent to compete for the Lunar X Prize, Fred Bourgeois (President & CEO of Applios Inc., and the organizer of Team FREDNET) made the following comments.  "Way back in 1984, when I was a starving graduate student at Tulane University, my good friend Melanie Waldman asked me 'If money didn't matter and you could do anything at all, what would it be?'  I didn't even have to think about the answer to that question: 'I'd be working out how to build my own personal spacecraft, and then how to build a city on the moon.'  Pursuing the Lunar X Prize isn't exactly the same thing, but it is a step in the right direction toward achieving those longer term goals."

Bourgeois studied Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, and Engineering for years, always with "impossible" goals of achieving these dreams in the back of his mind.  His inspiration came between the ages of 6-8, watching all of the Apollo launches and lunar missions, and from reading the stories of Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein (especially the latter's classic "We Also Walk Dogs").  "I don't have the resources of Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett, but I'd gladly fly to Omaha and walk Mr. Buffett's dog if that is what it takes to raise the money we need to make this goal a reality."

Team FREDNET is competing for the Lunar X Prize in what some might call a dangerous format: the entire project will be open source.  Everything from the system specs to the operational source code will be posted on the project's web site for the world to see.  How can Team FREDNET remain competitive when the whole thing is "out there" for every competitor to copy and use?  That remains to be seen, but presumably other competitors will have their own unique ideas and goals, many of which may be incompatible with our solutions.

Team FREDNET's goal is to include every qualified individual who is willing and able to support this development effort.  The time and talents of every contributor will be recognized and appreciated.

One of the stated requirements to win the Lunar X Prize is that the lunar explorer must send a "first email message from the moon" back to earth.  Although that requirement includes a lot of specifics about images of the explorer itself, and various scenery from the moon, our "first email message" will begin with the names of the folks who made this possible.  First on the list will be the people who used their time and talents to put our probe on the Moon.  Every scientist, engineer, mathematician, software developer, roboticist, machinist, web developer, graphic designer, communications specialist, technician, operator, or whatever will have their names listed first.  After recognizing the creators, we will also list our sponsors, whether corporate or individual, and in the order in which they contributed funds or essential equipment and services to our project.  Make no mistake, winning this prize is
going to be expensive, and we are going to need a lot of corporate sponsors to get the hardware off the ground here and onto the surface of the Moon.

And what if Team FREDNET wins the Lunar X Prize, what will you do with the money?  Bourgeois says, "Ultimately, we're going to build a city on the Moon.  I'm not sure if you can do that with only $20 to $30 million but it is a good start.  I would hope to use that money to establish a foundation to pursue the longer term goal, incrementally of course.  We're building a lot of the methods, systems and processes that we're going to need for further projects just by doing this one, but probably even more importantly we are building a community of people with expertise in actually doing a space project.  The goal of the foundation will be to utilize that expertise to accomplish the next goal, and the next."

By the way, why Team FREDNET?   "That's actually a two-level acronym," laughs Bourgeois.  "It stands for FRED's Robotic Explorer Development Network, and the first part also stands for 'Fred, Rich, (eric), and Dan' ... but we don't have an 'Eric', we just needed the 'E'."

To learn more about Team FREDNET, join the Team, participate in engineering discussions and designs,  buy Team merchandise,and show your support by visiting their website at http://TeamFREDNET.org/

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