Engineer and daredevil caver Bill Stone pushes the frontier -- through flooded tunnels, the remotest depths of the Earth and the limits of human endurance. Next up, he’s planning to mine moon ice by 2015 and build an autonomous robot to visit the icebound sea of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
Engineer and daredevil explorer Bill Stone is obsessed with discovery. After years of crawling through the deepest unexplored caves on the planet, he's building robots to go where he can't. His company Stone Aerospace built DepthX, an autonomous robot, which descended 1,099 feet down Mexico's deepest watery sinkhole. In 2009, Stone and his team completed a successful mission to Antarctica. ENDURANCE, an expedition sponsored by NASA, was developed to explore and map under the ice of Lake Bonney in Antarctica.But this was just a test for the real mission (which is explained in a recent National Geographic documentary, Journey to an Alien Moon): building a probe with NASA to bore through miles of ice on Jupiter's moon Europa, then swim through the buried Europan sea in search of alien life.
He's also hoping to singlehandedly jump-start commercial human space exploration by offering spacefarers affordable fuels and consumables extracted from the moon. His new Shackleton Energy Company, or SEC, intends to raise $15 billion (as he points out, this is about the cost of a North Sea oil production platform complex) to mine ice thought to be trapped on the moon's southern pole at Shackleton Crater, and to sell derived products (including propellants and other consumables) on the moon and in low earth orbit (LEO) to international consumers. If all goes well, SEC will be open for business as early as 2015 as an international energy company.
“We have never seen monsters underground — at least the kind that eat you. If there is a monster underground, it is the crushing psychological remoteness that begins to hit every member of the team once you cross about three days inbound from the nearest entrance.”