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Commercial and US Government Launch Vehicles => Commercial Space Flight General => Topic started by: mrmandias on 11/15/2012 07:08 PM

Title: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 11/15/2012 07:08 PM
From Chris' latest article:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/



source information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.

According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.

More details ahead of the announcement are expected in the coming days and weeks
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 11/15/2012 07:17 PM
OK, obviously the money is the biggest question here.  How do they intend to pay for all this?  If its investors, what's the business case?  Even if the development of most of these items is already paid for, mission costs are still going to be at bare minimum a billion dollars or so.

I speculate that you might have a few very rich individuals who would be willing to chip in substantial amounts of money to be in the first group of people to return to the moon.  Especially if the expense can be treated as a charitable write-off or even a business cost.  However, Chris says that the lander is supposed to hold only two men.  So you are only talking a few individuals, who would have to take a considerable amount of time to be trained.

Another option is publicity, free advertising, that sort of thing.  That's not going to be worth a billion, but it might be worth something.

That leads me to what I think the real purpose of this is:  I think its designed to be an SLS-killer.  We'll know more when we see who is actually backing it, of course.  But the folks who dramatically and publicly demonstrate that they have a superior space access architecture to NASA's current scheme could then put on pressure to have NASA use their system and fund their project and would likely succeed.  Who loves publicity more than companies?  Congress and the President.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/15/2012 07:21 PM
Actually, that's a good idea to have a standalone thread, given the article (and the thread I gave it) was on a few subject areas.

(That thread is here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30357.0)

I'll link up that previous ld thread to here for the specific commercial lunar notes! :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: LegendCJS on 11/15/2012 07:25 PM
OK, obviously the money is the biggest question here.  How do they intend to pay for all this?  If its investors, what's the business case? 

...

Another option is publicity, free advertising, that sort of thing. 

...

Who loves publicity more than companies?  Congress and the President.
Funny conclusion you are drawing there ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Lobo on 11/15/2012 07:41 PM
Since there is a public thread for this now.

Very exciting, and would be a big kick in the britches to NASA and the US Government, which –could- be a very good thing.  If they see a private joint-venture company doing in basically 8 years and a fraction of the budget that NASA has, and is claiming is too little to go back to the moon, that would be a big embarrassment I think.  And I think could prompt some serious discussions between NASA and Congress on just how all that money is being spent and how NASA operates.  NASA has pretty consistently taken the most expensive and difficult path forward since Apollo.  There was money to do it during Apollo, but hasn’t been since.  They have had many chances over the years to create a more affordable and more sustainable HSF system, and seem to have not chosen those chances every time.  Not using any Apollo tech or Titan tech for STS, chosing CxP instead of EELV or EELV-derived, sticking with a growing CxP rather than something like Direct or AJAX, etc.  A lot of it is probably politics and not always their independent choice.  But that’s why I’m thinking something like this could prompt Congress and NASA both to have a chat about doing what’s politically appealing vs. technologically and fiscally logical.  Prior to Apollo, NASA used existing rockets.  Maybe there could be a return to that?  It might take something impossible to ignore like a private company developing and launching an independent lunar program on just a fraction of NASA’s budget.
Assuming that at least two of the principals in this would be SpaceX and Bigelow (existing or soon to be existing LV’s and inflatable modules?  Seems pretty obvious.    )

On the flip side, there might not need to be a specific commercial “customer” per se.  If Musk and Bigelow want to do it, and can get enough people to invest in it, the business model could very well be to develop a system and operation model that NASA/Congress could find attractive.  Which would make the all US built aspect of it very important.  Such a incredibly high profile demonstration would be impossible for NASA/Congress to ignore.  And Musk and Bigelow can say, “Hey, we can do this for you too for just a fraction of the cost you’ve been looking at.  And there’s no development, as we’ve already developed it.  An efficient use of those limited tax payer dollars.” 
So the project could literally be a way to showcase hardware and capabilities of the members of the consortium.  Including whoever builds the lander, and whoever builds the upper stage.  As Boeing has already worked with Bigelow, perhaps they might be a partner, building a lander similar to the one they proposed to NASA for the Gateway proposal, and using the DCSS, or something derived from that for the EDS?  If NASA were to start buying hardware and services from this consortium, suddenly there’s a customer with a budget that can drop a few billion dollars a year on hardware and services.  Maybe NASA is the ultimate target customer? Just a small amount of their annual budget is a lot of money in the commercial sector.  Commercial tourism is a possibility, but I’d think even with the cheaper prices they might do it for, it still would be expensive enough that the list of people with that much money would be pretty short.  Although, that could just be a supplemental activity, and not necessarily designed to sustain the project alone. 
Be interesting on what that would mean for SLS though, which would be quite far along by the time this consortium would look actually legitimate or not, and might be both hard to justify, and hard to cancel for political and PR reasons.   It could probably still be used, but it could launch the whole mission in one launch rather than the LEO assembly as it sounds like they are planning on doing. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 11/15/2012 07:47 PM
Oh, I agree.  I think the obvious business case for this (assuming that it really is well-financed and backed by serious players) is to make an unignorable demonstration of capabilities that NASA cannot then credibly ignore (or Congress, as the case may be). 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 11/15/2012 07:48 PM
There are many nations around the world that although cannot afford their own space program, could afford to pay for one of their own to conduct science on the Moon. This doesn’t have to be just about a few rich tourists on a junket…

Thanks Chris for the article that allows for some hope of moving forward…  :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Political Hack Wannabe on 11/15/2012 07:49 PM
There is a third point, that everyone I think is missing. 

And that is you don't necessarily HAVE to have a commercial market for each and every piece of the system.  Case in point - the whole discussion of depots.  While there is a market for depots via NASA exploration, there is also the potential market for satellite refueling.  As another example, there is the idea of using Commercial Crew to jump start the US launch industry (although it would help to get ITAR reform...)

Worth remembering
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: FinalFrontier on 11/15/2012 08:05 PM
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.


I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HMXHMX on 11/15/2012 08:05 PM
From Chris' latest article:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/



source information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.

According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.

More details ahead of the announcement are expected in the coming days and weeks


Sounds a lot like a project I heard about a few years ago, called "Golden Spike".  Several well known names were rumored to be associated with it.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/15/2012 08:12 PM
Since there is a public thread for this now.

To be clear, there was a thread the second the story went on, in the Moon section.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: neilh on 11/15/2012 08:22 PM
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.


I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).

Since it doesn't contain or rely on any sensitive information, I'll copy what I previously posted to L2:

Quote from: neilh
My personal guesses for partners for the newly-formed company (I have no insider information on this whatsoever):
* ULA: They're at the forefront when it comes to depot development, and of course also have their launchers. If SpaceX is involved I suspect it won't be in a development role (I really don't see development of a lunar architecture on Musk's shortlist of priorities), but simply as a commercial launch provider.
* ILC Dover: This might just be me being contrarian, but I actually believe they're a more likely pick for inflatables than Bigelow. This is going to need to be a team effort, and Bigelow isn't exactly known as a team player. While ILC Dover isn't as well-publicised as Bigelow, I was actually pretty surprised to see how much work ILC Dover's done so far on lunar habitats: http://www.ilcdover.com/Habitats-and-Shelters/
* Masten as a subcontractor to ULA, based on their ongoing collaboration on the Xeus dual-thrust axis prototype, and Masten's experience with landers in general
* XCOR as a subcontractor to ULA, based on their ongoing collaboration on piston-pump generators/engines
* Altius as a subcontractor to ULA, based on this collaboration: http://blog.altius-space.com/2010/11/more-about-that-second-contract/
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 11/15/2012 08:58 PM
Many of the design elements point to Boeing/ULA.  Depots, for instance.

But those folks would have no particular interest in killing the SLS.  SpaceX would, but this doesn't sounds *at all* like a SpaceX project.

Some of the speculation that this is designed to make NASA an offer it can't refuse on infrastructure that could theoretically be used in conjunction with the SLS may be right.  If so, good for whoever it is.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: jongoff on 11/15/2012 09:40 PM
* Altius as a subcontractor to ULA, based on this collaboration: http://blog.altius-space.com/2010/11/more-about-that-second-contract/

As I mentioned on L2, while we'd love to be involved in a serious privately-funded lunar project, we have no connection with this project at the moment. Very curious to see who all is involved and if Altius could find a role in it once it's more public, but as of right now we're pretty heads-down on our DARPA Phoenix work, and a few small business development efforts related to our space robotics stuff we're working with NASA LaRC, so I only heard about this announcement when I read Chris' article this morning.

~Jon
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/15/2012 09:44 PM
Pretty expensive way to kill SLS when if it's such the dinosaur that many seem to imply, it will collapse under its own weight sooner or later.

I think the motivation was nailed by Diamandis himself. People are impatient and fracked off, and if they want to see anyone on the Moon--and a lot of these millionaires and billionaires have dreamed of landing on the Moon themselves personally since childhood--they've realized they've got to do it themselves.

As for whose behind it, I don't see this as coming from old space companies like ULA or Boeing. It's coming from distinct, individuals with powerful personalities. The idea that depots "could" be used was a bit of commentary/analysis on the part of Chris Bergin--and there's nothing wrong with that.

It just seems IMHO that if it's going to get done at all, it's going to have to be a more or less shoe-string, no-frills touch 'n' go sortie mission, where they'll plant some flags and grab some samples. So you're looking at two FH launches and be done with it. SpaceX will likely have a high energy upper stage at that point. No need for refueling for such a lightweight mission.

My guess it'll be a consortium of a few new space companies: I'll bet Diamandis has fingers in the pie somehow. Could be joining forces with MoonEx. Astrobotics is looking good; Caterpillar might be expected to be a sponsor.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Wyvern on 11/15/2012 09:57 PM
So let me get this straight. We have a company that wants to mine asteroids, a company that aims to put a base on the Moon plus a bunch of potential moon rover companies, and at least two companies aiming to colonize Mars, one of which is sort of insane but the other wants to dramatically lower launch costs and revolutionize space access.

Well if nothing else this proves that people (specifically Americans) haven't lost the desire to colonize space.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: cro-magnon gramps on 11/15/2012 10:01 PM
Pretty expensive way to kill SLS when if it's such the dinosaur that many seem to imply, it will collapse under its own weight sooner or later.
<snip>
My guess it'll be a consortium of a few new space companies: I'll bet Diamandis has fingers in the pie somehow. Could be joining forces with MoonEx. Astrobotics is looking good; Caterpillar might be expected to be a sponsor.

First off, if the timeline is correct, then SLS will be past it's first 2 major milestones, and headed for it's third, Apollo 8 redux... so I don't see SLS threatened by this, EXCEPT.... if Congress sees that this is going forward faster than SLS/Orion, and get's cold feet...

as for backers, Chris did mention INTERNATIONAL!!! So while I applaud the idea of Caterpillar, there is always JBC in Britain... let's not be too narrowminded with who might be involved, and throw non US companies out with the bathwater ;D

Diamandis is a given I think, but beyond that, SpaceX is the only company that I would say for sure that is involved...

In the long run, 2024/5 I think we will find a lot more come on board if the first sortie is sucessful... then we will see depots, seps and inflatable space modules (on and around the moon), as well, anyone who is capable of bringing downmass back to earth is going to want a piece of this...

just me dreaming ;) I'll be 71-2 if they hit their first mark,

Gramps
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/15/2012 10:59 PM
Rather than make any silly predictions, I offer thoughts on the situation on the viability of this potential commercial endeavour.

1. Advertising. It will never cover even half of the projected costs, but it will be a novel way to promote brands. Let's face it, people are addicted to certain 'extreme' advertising; I can only imagine what sales of Red Bull were like during Felix Baumgartner's jump attempt from the edge of space. Astronomical? hehehe

Cordless drills, lights, solar panels, recorded music, cinema contracts, toothpaste, soft drinks, alcohol (which won't be on a NASA mission). Heck, I could even see cigarettes up there...(eek). You can even have technologies related to Tesla motors up there driving a rover!

2. Now this one requires some mind-bending: NASA, by law, MUST use commercial when it is available. What that says about a lunar capability, I'm not sure how that could play out, nor the scope of what must be used & where (launch services, ect), but here's a few thoughts:

a) fuel from depot: derived from the moon or pre-positioned
b) lunar transportation. Think about it...
c) energy (solar farm)
d) water & food

3. Low gravity opportunities. Materials research/production, pharmaceuticals, communications...

There should be enough research accumulated on Earth & on the ISS to see that unique possibilities exist to further advanced research in key areas.

4. Souvernirs. Ones only the 'ultra rich' can afford, but in time that could go down in price to something the 'rich' can afford.

5. Capabilities research for a company like SpaceX, to advance their goal to go to Mars. Also, tied to #3, for a company like Bigelow to advance & prove their systems outside of NASA. And tied to #2, there is the opportunity to develop systems FOR NASA, to make them available on the Earth to fly to the moon & beyond. Why? Because as is shown on the ISS: while great in theory, not everything works as intended in space.

6. Misc revenue: Taking space burial to a whole new level. Also to pre-position momentos on the surface (probably with a signed photo to go along with it)

7. Glory. No explanation necessary.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: sdsds on 11/15/2012 11:18 PM
8. Good cover, like manganese nodules.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/15/2012 11:25 PM
I think I heard of someone, perhaps astrobotic, thinking they could close the business case for a small lander. Lots of people have had some small interest in delivering various packages to the moon but insufficient to fund a lander. If you actually have a lander and can sell cargo space by the kg, even if it is a hundred or hundreds of thousands per kg, there could be quite a few interested parties wanting to land their own miniature scientific cargos.

wiki link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobotic_Technology#Commercial_payload_pricing
wow.. they are talking about 2million/kg. Im sure there are ways to do way better, at the same time it is totally reasonable to have such inflated prices when there is in fact no way to get anything to the moon right now without years and hundreds of millions in investment.


A two man lander sounds a lot bigger, but there are possibilities for making money from it before many of the expensive manned requirements are in place and also ways it could be much smaller than apollo even when manned if other infrastructure is in place.

Im dying to hear more details.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/16/2012 12:32 AM
I think I heard of someone, perhaps astrobotic, thinking they could close the business case for a small lander. Lots of people have had some small interest in delivering various packages to the moon but insufficient to fund a lander. If you actually have a lander and can sell cargo space by the kg, even if it is a hundred or hundreds of thousands per kg, there could be quite a few interested parties wanting to land their own miniature scientific cargos.

wiki link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobotic_Technology#Commercial_payload_pricing
wow.. they are talking about 2million/kg. Im sure there are ways to do way better, at the same time it is totally reasonable to have such inflated prices when there is in fact no way to get anything to the moon right now without years and hundreds of millions in investment.


A two man lander sounds a lot bigger, but there are possibilities for making money from it before many of the expensive manned requirements are in place and also ways it could be much smaller than apollo even when manned if other infrastructure is in place.

Im dying to hear more details.

Keeping a lander at a depot, and re-using it, would save millions if not billions) - crasher stage or whatever.

The greatest challenge, and opportunity to follow, is how much the savings can be by employing specific techniques.

I thought that in some ones this could hurt NASA, in some ways help it give it (or the nation) that extra kick to get it back to the moon, but I think more than anything it can promote better ways of doing things (assuming they work, and in a cost effective manner)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/16/2012 02:01 AM
obviously the money is the biggest question here.  How do they intend to pay for all this?

expensive way to kill SLS when if it's such the dinosaur that many seem to imply, it will collapse under its own weight... if it's going to get done at all, it's going to have to be a more or less shoe-string, no-frills
Easy.  Just fund it like a public/private Project Azorian to beat China to Luna.  Just kidding.  It's nice to see that billionaires are starting to reach toward more interesting hobbies. 

Good cover, like manganese nodules.
blink.  I'm not the only one heh?

Sounds a lot like a project I heard about a few years ago, called "Golden Spike".  Several well known names were rumored to be associated with it.
I see.  So "Gold-Member" is clearly the mastermind behind this plan.  ;)

Are you able to give more context?


I'll bet Diamandis has fingers in the pie somehow.
I wouldn't bet against you on that.

Quote from: neilh
* ILC Dover:  http://www.ilcdover.com/Habitats-and-Shelters/
Interesting link.  Thanks.
as for backers, Chris did mention INTERNATIONAL!!! So while I applaud the idea of Caterpillar, there is always JBC in Britain...
Branson got money from the Middle East.  Then there's always the guys who own the shares of your central bank.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ciscosdad on 11/16/2012 02:19 AM
Would foreign governments be willing to pay to have their personnel and/or equipment delivered to the Moon? How would that business case compare with (say) Antarctica? There has got to be a significant amount of private contractor support for the government Antarctic programs.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: SpacexULA on 11/16/2012 02:19 AM
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).

http://ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

Honestly ULA seems the most obvious partner, even more obvious than SpaceX, only because they only need a check to be written to start a lot of the above program.

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: LegendCJS on 11/16/2012 03:07 AM
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).

http://ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

Honestly ULA seems the most obvious partner, even more obvious than SpaceX, only because they only need a check to be written to start a lot of the above program.

It is my opinion that the only rolls traditional Aerospace or SpaceX will play are as launch vehicle vendors, not "partners"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/16/2012 04:37 AM
1 ) Planetary Resources , for asteroid mining
http://www.planetaryresources.com/

2 ) Mars-One , for Mars colonization
http://mars-one.com/en/

3 ) And now this Moon group

Now this could work well for Lagrangian Point Gateways Stations for Lunar, NEA, Mars, and Beyond
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30127.0

These three with a fourth ( crew return from Mars ) could help build gateway stations to further our ability to explore space and colonize it.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 11/16/2012 04:51 AM
What are the legal ramifications?  Could this commerical group claim part of the moon say a 10 miles square for its own use?  The materail I assume that they get is theirs?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/16/2012 04:57 AM
What are the legal ramifications?  Could this commerical group claim part of the moon say a 10 miles square for its own use?  The materail I assume that they get is theirs?
For:
1 ) landing sites
2 ) mining
3 )bases
4 ) ect.

There with have to be agreements made before any claim is made.

I hope it will be set up better than the California 1800's gold rush claims. As some sites will be better for bases as others are better for telescopes.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/16/2012 05:08 AM
Honestly ULA seems the most obvious partner, even more obvious than SpaceX, only because they only need a check to be written to start a lot of the above program.

I wonder if ULA have decided there is some sort of value to having a spaceX-like vision-or-dream and have decided to compete for that space in some sense.

I don't know exactly what that value is, but I have been wondering for a while if SpaceX's vision is also a carefully planned part of their business strategy. Just look at how much talk they generated with a sentence or two about something called 'MCT', before even defining what it stood for.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Hyperion5 on 11/16/2012 05:11 AM
Just look at how much talk they generated with a sentence or two about something called 'MCT', before even defining what it stood for.

According to one of our forum members who recently attended a lecture by Tom Mueller, Mueller said MCT stood for "Mars Colonial Transport", which really got tongues wagging over on the MCT thread. 

What are the legal ramifications?  Could this commerical group claim part of the moon say a 10 miles square for its own use?  The materail I assume that they get is theirs?

9/10ths of the law is possession.  If they start laying claim to land on the moon, the only thing stopping them might be the US government (less likely) or a UN treaty on space (more likely).  That said if they're on the moon and no government's there to enforce other claims, they would be de facto owners anyways, which in legal terms is significant.  I still would predict a legal logjam of international proportions were they to start claiming parts of the moon, but them actually landing on and using land on the moon would surely help their case.  It's not like anyone else buying property on the moon can claim that. 

Remind me again, which firm was it that sold land on the moon?  I suspect they'll be watching this commercial venture very carefully. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/16/2012 05:26 AM
Just look at how much talk they generated with a sentence or two about something called 'MCT', before even defining what it stood for.

According to one of our forum members who recently attended a lecture by Tom Mueller, Mueller said MCT stood for "Mars Colonial Transport", which really got tongues wagging over on the MCT thread.   

Yeah I heard that.. on the other hand it did seem initially that the term referred to an engine rather than a vehicle. I joked at the time that research might consist of a SpaceX engineer reading the MCT forum and picking the best acronym. In any case the first very short leak and the later confirmation could well have been carefully planned. Alongside grasshopper demonstrations it creates a real impresson of a company going somewhere. As I said, Im not exactly sure what the value of that is, but Im sure it has one so it seems reasonable to assume it is considered.

(But this is OT for this thread so I'll quit my conspiracy theories here)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Archibald on 11/16/2012 08:34 AM
Quote
Sounds a lot like a project I heard about a few years ago, called "Golden Spike".  Several well known names were rumored to be associated with it.

Sounds interesting. More details on this ? I think a bold future in space await us. The next decade will be quite interesting.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: MP99 on 11/16/2012 12:11 PM
I wonder if ULA have decided there is some sort of value to having a spaceX-like vision-or-dream and have decided to compete for that space in some sense.

They're not allowed.

Would have to be Boeing or LM.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/16/2012 02:56 PM
What are the legal ramifications?  Could this commerical group claim part of the moon say a 10 miles square for its own use?  The materail I assume that they get is theirs?

The legal ramifications are described in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The Moon has been mined, and the proceeds have been sold commercially.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: neilh on 11/16/2012 03:05 PM
I wonder if ULA have decided there is some sort of value to having a spaceX-like vision-or-dream and have decided to compete for that space in some sense.

They're not allowed.

Would have to be Boeing or LM.

Cheers, Martin

This is actually something I've often been confused about: what exactly are the limitations on what ULA can/can't do in regards to development?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Heinrich on 11/16/2012 03:19 PM
Can the C-Star guys be involved?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/16/2012 03:55 PM
ry exciting, and would be a big kick in the britches to NASA and the US Government, which –could- be a very good thing. ...

On the flip side, there might not need to be a specific commercial “customer” per se.  If Musk and Bigelow want to do it, and can get enough people to invest in it, the business model could very well be to develop a system and operation model that NASA/Congress could find attractive. ...

Be interesting on what that would mean for SLS though, which would be quite far along by the time this consortium would look actually legitimate or not, and might be both hard to justify, and hard to cancel for political and PR reasons. 

Pretty much totally agree.

There is a third point, that everyone I think is missing. 

And that is you don't necessarily HAVE to have a commercial market for each and every piece of the system.

Yes, and a fourth point.  On 04-15-10, the BTDT argument was officially raised, and totally bought by Congress.  Shortly thereafter, the Adminstrator was instructed to stonewall Congress on funding prioritization, wrt commercial.  Congress has been effectively distracted by this play, and SLS is proceeding with much of the old "optimistic" managerial approach intact.  The Republicans have lost the election because they've been distracted by fundamentalism.  If this is a success, can we expect twelve more years of a Democratic presidency?

Barring a black swan event, economic recovery should occur on Mr. Obama's watch, giving four years of implied support, politically and economically, to this new commercial undertaking, increasing their chances of success.  Leading to eight further years of Democratic presidencies?

So, can political games and strategy be played to this depth?  Or am I inhaling too much?

Well if nothing else this proves that people (specifically Americans) haven't lost the desire to colonize space.

It never went away.  It's being actively ignored by our government.  That's why they and the press ridicule the idea every time it is brought up.

BTW, what about Shackleton Energy?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/16/2012 04:00 PM
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).

http://ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

Honestly ULA seems the most obvious partner, even more obvious than SpaceX, only because they only need a check to be written to start a lot of the above program.

The problem (besides the obvious corporate inertia) is that ULA is too expensive: e.g., $3.5B for ACES, $3.0 for the depots, $5B for the lander, $10B for "basic" surface systems, $XB for non-basic (mining) systems. While this is probably a lot less expensive than if, for example, MSFC tried to design all this stuff themselves, it's still too much for a lean 'n' mean commercial operation.

In any case: all of the above stuff is not needed for what seems to be proposed: human precursor missions (sorties) sent to check out the resource.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 11/16/2012 05:55 PM
From Chris' latest article:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/



source information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.

According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.

More details ahead of the announcement are expected in the coming days and weeks


Sounds a lot like a project I heard about a few years ago, called "Golden Spike".  Several well known names were rumored to be associated with it.

Interesting to see that others have started to pick up this story, with a little bit of new detail:

Quote
NASA Watch ‏@NASAWatch
Company named "Golden Spike" composed of Shuttle, Apollo & planetary science veterans apparently working on a commercial human Moon mission

https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/269511346649968641 (https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/269511346649968641)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/16/2012 06:18 PM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: cro-magnon gramps on 11/16/2012 06:47 PM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

I've been hearing bagpipes in the distance, all morning, and they seem to be getting louder...  :D perhaps I'll get to see another Moon landing in my lifetime yet...

Gramps,
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/16/2012 07:44 PM
Most of ULA's depot technology actually comes from Ball Aerospace, passive and active cryogenics as well as cryo transfer technologies. The reason ULA is credited with these is that ULA has been quietly paying and partnering with Ball to fly experiments on Atlas V flights. Other technologies come from Boeing (the ICE). ULA is an integrator. But I am not sure who owns the stainless stell tank technology. It is probably public domain by now since the applicable patents probably date to the 1950's.

Someone else could become the integrator for a depot.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: strangequark on 11/16/2012 07:57 PM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

That is amazing. Godspeed gentlemen, and Go For TLI!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 11/16/2012 08:07 PM
Oh and.....  :)

Quote
NASA Watch ‏@NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company has @HomerHickam on its board of advisors

https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/269524199163453440 (https://twitter.com/NASAWatch/status/269524199163453440)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/16/2012 08:26 PM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

WOW, this is getting tense.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: neilh on 11/16/2012 08:36 PM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

Wow!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: corrodedNut on 11/16/2012 08:37 PM
That answers the "business plan" question. They're going to open a casino on the far side of the moon...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/16/2012 08:50 PM
Ok, so we're seeing some of the industry/academic involvement which is interesting and exciting in the abstract.

But it's when we hear from all the committed "investors" who will be paying for this and the commercial companies that will actually be building it, that I'll get elated in the real.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: corrodedNut on 11/16/2012 09:03 PM
Paragon too:

"@NASAWatch 
Paragon Space Development is also involved w/ Golden Spike commercial lunar company"
 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/16/2012 09:19 PM
From Homer Hickam, who is on the board of advisors of Golden Spike:
"If you read Back to the Moon...I won't say more."

Back to the Moon was his science fiction novel about a commercial group that "borrows" NASA hardware and flies a manned mission to the lunar surface to retrieve regolith to extract He3 for nuclear fusion power generation.

My initial guess has been that this was a geopolitical Apollo-lookalike resulting from agreements between Bigelow, SpaceX, and UAE+Dubai+Japan.  (Japan-China rivalry.)

If this is going to generate revenue then I would expect them to go heavy on unmanned hardware, like Planetary Resources.  However, if they want to perform significant construction on the lunar surface then having people up close can sometimes be very benificial (Hubble servicing missions)...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: corrodedNut on 11/16/2012 09:31 PM
From today's Royal Aeronautical Society lecture:

"Tim Robinson ‏@RAeSTimR
Q: Why r u focused on Mars rather than Moon? "We r happy to take people to Moon," quips Elon Musk"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/16/2012 10:10 PM
"A privately circulated proposal, known as “Golden Spike” and backed by respected scientific and astronautical entities, envisions the development of a reliable Cislunar Superhighway”.

That could explain the choice of the name Golden Spike.  Their focus could be the development of a commercial transportation system betweel LEO and the Lunar surface.

This is a real a longshot, but you might need boots on the Moon if you intend to to assemble a lunar elevator...

http://www.spacecalendar.com/may-21-27-2012-vol-31-no-21-hawaii-island-usa/9/
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/16/2012 10:46 PM
From Homer Hickam, who is on the board of advisors of Golden Spike:
"If you read Back to the Moon...I won't say more."

Back to the Moon was his science fiction novel about a commercial group that "borrows" NASA hardware and flies a manned mission to the lunar surface to retrieve regolith to extract He3 for nuclear fusion power generation.

Well now...!!

So if the 'goal' is extracting He3, and you look at Wiki (yeah, I know), there is the notion that Chandrayaan-I may have been looking for it.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=11006.0

We know it found ice...

"NASA RADAR FINDS ICE DEPOSITS AT MOON'S NORTH POLE; ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF WATER ACTIVITY ON MOON

WASHINGTON -- Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India's
Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near
the moon's north pole. NASA's Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight,
synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water
ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in
diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness
in each crater, it's estimated there could be at least 1.3 million
pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice. "

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=11006.msg554432#msg554432
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/16/2012 10:56 PM
Helium-3? Why?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: docmordrid on 11/16/2012 11:05 PM
Helium-3? Why?

It's a good fuel for fusion reactors.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: dad2059 on 11/16/2012 11:16 PM

It's a good fuel for fusion reactors.

Yeah, but even with this hypothetical "golden highway", why would this be more cost effective than good ol' H2O on Earth?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/16/2012 11:48 PM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

Now while nobody can theoretically 'own' the moon, or parts thereof - first come, first served. They could simply set up the necessary hardware to extract & refine it (later on, after discoveries & so on), and have it ready for Earth return. That way, if I'm correct, they wouldn't now 'own it' (along with any other finds).

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it. What that something is, if it indeed is He3, will likely require a large pre-positioning of hardware to obtain. If they have the right players - and clearly they have some great minds on it at the moment - things could happen.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: arachnitect on 11/17/2012 12:10 AM
Helium-3? Why?

It's a good fuel for fusion reactors.

Need for fusion fuel is a long way off.

Current demand is driven by neutron detectors (esp. homeland security applications).

Using alternatives or ramping up He3 production here on earth would probably be easier than scouring lunar regolith for the stuff.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Atlan on 11/17/2012 12:13 AM
What is about Helium-3 for Fusion Research? As much as i know Scientists would love to have more Helium3 but its just too hard to get. Maybe they can earn some money with low amounts for research first while testing the mining hardware.

If you combine that with tourists that do research on the moon on behalf of the scientific community maybe it  pays off(or at least pays the bills).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/17/2012 12:36 AM
What is about Helium-3 for Fusion Research? As much as i know Scientists would love to have more Helium3 but its just too hard to get. Maybe they can earn some money with low amounts for research first while testing the mining hardware.

If you combine that with tourists that do research on the moon on behalf of the scientific community maybe it  pays off(or at least pays the bills).

Reading up on Wiki (hey, it's a start, and you need to start somewhere), I'm more intruigued by the low temperature helium-3 refrigerator.

When you think of the research at CERN & the large hadron collider, and how much liquid helium they use, then put into perspective the super conducting magnets for medical imaging...there is a bright future for the needs of Helium & its isotopes.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: sdsds on 11/17/2012 01:41 AM
In United States history, the Transcontinental Railroad was officially completed in 1869. The event was marked by driving a golden spike at the location where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met. The location? Promontory, Utah. We've heard of that location before. Aren't big things made there. In segments. By a little company called ... ATK?

Did someone mention use of "existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles" that cannot die?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: neilh on 11/17/2012 01:43 AM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

I'm not sure if this was mentioned already, but it's worth noting that Alan Stern is a (present/former?) Blue Origin employee, as well as chief scientist and mission architect (http://www.moonexpress.com/blog.php?id=29) of Moon Express (one of the GLXP teams).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/17/2012 01:49 AM
A for-profit program could require the folloing components:
(1) An economical reusable LEO launch spacecraft.
(2) A reusable LEO to lunar orbit solar electric cargo transport.
(3) A reusable lunar oribt to lunar surface lander.

For one-way cargo missions to the lunar surface, I have a hunch that you would be able to space-drop rugged payloads to the lunar surface from the SEP tug in low lunar orbit by providing each payload with a small, single-use solid fuel retro rocket and an air bags to cushion the landing impact.  Using this technology, you could deploy dozens of rovers across the face of the Moon from a single spacecraft.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/17/2012 01:59 AM
In United States history, the Transcontinental Railroad was officially completed in 1869. The event was marked by driving a golden spike at the location where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met. The location? Promontory, Utah. We've heard of that location before. Aren't big things made there. In segments. By a little company called ... ATK?

Did someone mention use of "existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles" that cannot die?

Very interesting connection.  ATK definitey has had a few surprises up their sleeves over the past year, and does not sound exactly ready to give up space without a fight...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/17/2012 02:12 AM
OK, I just asked Trina, who is the PR wiz at ATK propulsion, and she has not heard of it, so probably not something from Utah...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 11/17/2012 02:53 AM
Why oh why is a big and silly smile stuck on my face?

 :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 06:59 AM
OK, I just asked Trina, who is the PR wiz at ATK propulsion, and she has not heard of it, so probably not something from Utah...

It's from Boulder Colorado (http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityDetail.do?quitButtonDestination=BusinessEntityResults&fileId=20111129491&masterFileId=20111129491&srchTyp=ENTITY&entityId2=20111129491&nameTyp=ENT). "Golden Spike Company" was also a gold mining outfit (http://boards.ancestry.com/localities.northam.usa.states.colorado.counties.boulder/1696/mb.ashx?pnt=1) that used to work the mountains northwest of Boulder (http://www.westernmininghistory.com/articles/57/page2) in the early 20th century.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 07:02 AM
And @NASAWatch
"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern

You've heard of them! ;D

I'm not sure if this was mentioned already, but it's worth noting that Alan Stern is ... chief scientist and mission architect of Moon Express (one of the GLXP teams).

I forgot about that. That's very interesting, because Paragon was founded by Peter Diamandis himself! (http://www.corporationwiki.com/Arizona/Tucson/paragon-space-development-corporation/63380515.aspx) So my prediction that the effort represents a merger of sorts between Planetary Resources and MoonEx was apparently correct....
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: MP99 on 11/17/2012 07:50 AM
Helium-3? Why?

Harrison Schmitt Talks Commercial Moon and Mars (http://spaceref.ca/commercial-space/harrison-schmitt-talks-up-the-moon.html?utm_campaign=&utm_source=direct-srs.gs&utm_medium=srs.gs-copypaste&utm_content=awesm-publisher):-
Quote
In the book I wrote on the subject, "Return to the Moon: The Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space," is basically a business plan on how you would do that. And if you believe that business plan and you meet the milestones in the business plan, so investors continue to support you, I think within 15 to 20 years you could have a settlement on the Moon from the time you start your first investment-related activity.

But you need that first step. And actually, the first step has nothing to do with power production. The first step is probably one where you are going to use Helium 3-deuterium reactors, at about the current level of development, to produce medical isotopes. It turns out that the fusion product, the protons, are ideal for radiating certain kinds of elements to produce isotopes that are important to positron emission tomography (PET) - positron emitting isotopes that have short half-lives. Right now, PET diagnostics, which is the diagnostic of choice for a particular stage of cancer, uses a relatively long half-life positron emitter of Fluorine-18 isotope and it decays in a half-life of 110 minutes. And that's great. It doesn't seem too long but it's too long for children and pregnant women to be able to take advantage of that technology because of the residual radiation.

Whereas with proton irradiation, you can produce isotopes that have half-lives of 12 minutes or less so that changes the whole paradigm of how you do cancer diagnostics for children and pregnant women. That is probably the first business opportunity of this technology. It's on the pathway to producing power downstream but it is also a business opportunity that can attract investors.



Current demand is driven by neutron detectors (esp. homeland security applications).

Using alternatives or ramping up He3 production here on earth would probably be easier than scouring lunar regolith for the stuff.

Yeah, you'd have thought so, wouldn't you.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 08:03 AM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it....

I keep telling you guys:

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR CRATERS!!! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27041.0;all)

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: zodiacchris on 11/17/2012 09:13 AM
After the solar eclipse on Wednesday, this is the second big thing this week that gives me goosebumps. Trying not to get my hopes up to high, we have been disappointed too often over the last 30 years. But wouldn't it be great to go back while one of the last moonwalkers is still alive...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/17/2012 03:30 PM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it....

I keep telling you guys:

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR CRATERS!!! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27041.0;all)


It's not quite commercially viable to bring gold back from the moon, nor Platinum. Now something like Iridium - maybe, but there has to be an absolute use & need for it, perhaps a new technology, that would be worth while.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/17/2012 03:56 PM
It's not quite commercially viable to bring gold back from the moon, nor Platinum. Now something like Iridium - maybe, but there has to be an absolute use & need for it, perhaps a new technology, that would be worth while.

Iridium is a strong metal with a very high melting point.  Coated to protect from oxygen it should therefore be a good metal to make high efficiency (very hot) engines out of.  So electrical generators, internal combustion engines, furnaces and rocket motors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irridium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irridium)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JAFO on 11/17/2012 04:05 PM
OK, I just asked Trina, who is the PR wiz at ATK propulsion, and she has not heard of it, so probably not something from Utah...

Or it's above her paygrade.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 04:05 PM
Two huge factors in spurring on innovative commercial markets were the implementation of the patent system and private property rights.

IMO, what will be the biggest driver, even beyond technology, will be setting the legal precedent of private ownership of off-Earth land and resources.

It is time to re-evaluate and challenge the 1967 Outer-Space Act Treaty. It is outmoded. There is no reason to lock up the solar system as some shared by all utopia. As we do on Earth, there is no reason why we can't  create preserves and protected lands / resources while still allocating private ownership.

I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/17/2012 04:05 PM
Some uninformed speculation:

Since it is well known that NASA is currently developing plans to explore space beyond low earth orbit, is it possible that the subject of this thread is simply an offer by a consortium of private companies to provide an affordable lunar landing mission? In other words, is it possible that the customer is NASA?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 11/17/2012 04:17 PM
Some uninformed speculation:

Since it is well known that NASA is currently developing plans to explore space beyond low earth orbit, is it possible that the subject of this thread is simply an offer by a consortium of private companies to provide an affordable lunar landing mission? In other words, is it possible that the customer is NASA?


That's pretty much my suspicion too. With the following difference: I would say "is it possible that the hoped-for customer is NASA?"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 11/17/2012 04:20 PM
I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...

Most unlikely to happen. That treaty was signed for one main reason: To save money for the state by removing all incentive to invest in space...

In the current climate of austerity, getting rid of a treaty whose main reason was to save money is the last thing on any politician's mind. And private enterprise does not make or break international treaties.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 04:35 PM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it....

I keep telling you guys:

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR CRATERS!!! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27041.0;all)


It's not quite commercially viable to bring gold back from the moon, nor Platinum. Now something like Iridium - maybe, but there has to be an absolute use & need for it, perhaps a new technology, that would be worth while.

Iridium?!?  It's worth less than gold! (http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/iridium/) More importantly, the market for it is miniscule. Meanwhile, the market for gold is around 3000 mT per year. Platinum is only ~200 mT/year. Consider that if Pt is worth $50K/kg, then an entire year's production is worth $10B. Not bad, but you go doubling world production, you're going to crash the price.

Meanwhile, gold is heading into a "peak gold" situation. Yes, world records have been set the last couple of years, but growth in the discovery of new reserves is not keeping pace with growth in production. So a Lunar gold mine would largely be replacing declining Terran production. A 20% share of the world's market would be worth $30B/year. A guy with a monopoly share would be raking in Exxon level revenues. That's the sort of revenues it's going to take to make the world's first trillionaire.

But the main thing you may not realize is that gold in the form of electrostatic placer deposits--if they exist--will be found in the exact same spot as the Lunar water ice, and in fact will be a guaranteed by-product of the Lunar propellant industry. This is in contrast to the asteroid model, where the propellant and the PGM's are found on radically different types of asteroids. Same holds for the old Lunar model where they were hoping to hunt for crashed metallic asteroids. Moreover, these electrostatic placer deposits will be lieing right on the surface, and exist in a powder form, ready to be separated and processed. There will also be tonnes and tonnes of mercury that can be used to soak up every last grain of gold.

As for transporting back to Earth, a substance worth $50K/year is worth it to bring back--even if you were using the Space Shuttle. But especially if you've got tonnes and tonnes of Lunar LH2/LO2 in your back pocket, not to mention a fully functioning cislunar, transcontinental railroad, complete with depots and the whole nine yards at your disposal.

But anyways, you wouldn't even need to take it back. Just refine it to "four nines" purity, pour it into 400 ounce gold bars, stamp a unique serial number on each one, have them inspected, and then set up a Lunar bank. The gold bars can then be "allocated" to people who buy them. If a buyer wants to take delivery, it's up to them to pay the delivery costs, just like it is on Earth--which is expensive, even on Earth, which is why hardly anybody takes delivery of physical gold these days.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 04:38 PM
I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...

Most unlikely to happen. That treaty was signed for one main reason: To save money for the state by removing all incentive to invest in space...

In the current climate of austerity, getting rid of a treaty whose main reason was to save money is the last thing on any politician's mind. And private enterprise does not make or break international treaties.
Pardon, and maybe I don't completely understand what you are trying to say, but "saving money by removing incentive to invest in space" doesn't make any sense.

What exactly does state austerity have anything to do with allocating private property rights to space resource? Allowing such rights has absolutely no impact on whether a country / state decides to invest in space or not. They are not compelled to do so outside of providing a regulatory entity to enforce and oversight. It is the private investment we are interested in with regards to this. We need to align private investment with private ownership, within a new regulatory framework.

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 04:38 PM
Some uninformed speculation:

Since it is well known that NASA is currently developing plans to explore space beyond low earth orbit, is it possible that the subject of this thread is simply an offer by a consortium of private companies to provide an affordable lunar landing mission? In other words, is it possible that the customer is NASA?

NASA money is as green as anybody else's. Only problem is it comes with lots of strings attached...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 11/17/2012 04:53 PM
Some uninformed speculation:

Since it is well known that NASA is currently developing plans to explore space beyond low earth orbit, is it possible that the subject of this thread is simply an offer by a consortium of private companies to provide an affordable lunar landing mission? In other words, is it possible that the customer is NASA?

NASA money is as green as anybody else's. Only problem is it comes with lots of strings attached...
I had the same thought when the news first came out. It would be an interesting extension of the Commercial Crew model…
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 11/17/2012 05:00 PM
Maybe I am wrong, but so far on the moon--NASA has brought back stuff and guess who it belongs to??  NASA.  So if a company brought back stuff--guess who it would belong to--the company.  As they possession is 9/10ths of the law.  Even if someone were to try and claim a companies--what agruement would they use?  I could see a company building a small habitat, processing metals and then claiming x square miles for there development--who would stop them?  No-one.  :-)  The treaties do not say anything about not allowing private ownership.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 05:23 PM
Maybe I am wrong, but so far on the moon--NASA has brought back stuff and guess who it belongs to??  NASA.  So if a company brought back stuff--guess who it would belong to--the company.  As they possession is 9/10ths of the law.  Even if someone were to try and claim a companies--what agruement would they use?  I could see a company building a small habitat, processing metals and then claiming x square miles for there development--who would stop them?  No-one.  :-)  The treaties do not say anything about not allowing private ownership.
Actually, the treaty is rather explicit with regards to "claiming x square miles for their development". See Article II:

"Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

I would submit that "National" would be extended to Private. I'd like to see it make a clear distinction between national and private. Which is why it needs to be amended for today's possibilities, not the 1960s.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/17/2012 05:52 PM
If I had time in the next few weeks, I'd write a screenplay based largely on this thread, and film it quick and low budget with some friends. 

So the dominion of space comes down to a race between private industry (individual incentive) and China (communal incentive).           ?

Some themes change in guise over time, but remain the same at the core.

Want to come with me to buy a trillion barrel bitumen deposit I recently discovered?  Seriously.  Individual incentive is under-estimated as a creativity impellor imo.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 06:16 PM
If I had time in the next few weeks, I'd write a screenplay based largely on this thread, and film it quick and low budget with some friends. 

So the dominion of space comes down to a race between private industry (individual incentive) and China (communal incentive).           ?

Some themes change in guise over time, but remain the same at the core.

Want to come with me to buy a trillion barrel bitumen deposit I recently discovered?  Individual incentive is under-estimated as a creativity impellor imo.

Astor, Guggenheim, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, Ford, Wright, Jobs, Gates etc. Individual incentive is everything. As such, I'd like to see it unleashed with regards to this possible Moon endeavor.

Any laws / treaties on the books that limit or deny the full potential of this private accelerated outward expansion from occurring, need to be amended.

It's not a sexy part of this conversation, but it is an extremely important one. And one you will hear much more of in the coming months and years.

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: spacedem on 11/17/2012 06:21 PM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it....

I keep telling you guys:

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR CRATERS!!! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27041.0;all)


It's not quite commercially viable to bring gold back from the moon, nor Platinum. Now something like Iridium - maybe, but there has to be an absolute use & need for it, perhaps a new technology, that would be worth while.

Why bother bringing it back?  If you're going to use it as money keep it there and issue gold certificates.  It couldn't get more secure...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/17/2012 06:28 PM
I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...

Most unlikely to happen. That treaty was signed for one main reason: To save money for the state by removing all incentive to invest in space...

In the current climate of austerity, getting rid of a treaty whose main reason was to save money is the last thing on any politician's mind. And private enterprise does not make or break international treaties.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty provides for private property rights as currently written. Companies like Planetary Resources are fully aware of this, and will conduct their business under the treaty.

To attempt to change the treaty would cause uncertainty in the industry, which is not a good thing.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 11/17/2012 06:29 PM
Maybe I am wrong, but so far on the moon--NASA has brought back stuff and guess who it belongs to??  NASA.  So if a company brought back stuff--guess who it would belong to--the company.  As they possession is 9/10ths of the law.  Even if someone were to try and claim a companies--what agruement would they use?  I could see a company building a small habitat, processing metals and then claiming x square miles for there development--who would stop them?  No-one.  :-)  The treaties do not say anything about not allowing private ownership.
Actually, the treaty is rather explicit with regards to "claiming x square miles for their development". See Article II:

"Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

I would submit that "National" would be extended to Private. I'd like to see it make a clear distinction between national and private. Which is why it needs to be amended for today's possibilities, not the 1960s.

As you mentioned...we are not talking about National approations..
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/17/2012 06:29 PM
Maybe I am wrong, but so far on the moon--NASA has brought back stuff and guess who it belongs to??  NASA.  So if a company brought back stuff--guess who it would belong to--the company.  As they possession is 9/10ths of the law.  Even if someone were to try and claim a companies--what agruement would they use?  I could see a company building a small habitat, processing metals and then claiming x square miles for there development--who would stop them?  No-one.  :-)  The treaties do not say anything about not allowing private ownership.

The Moon has been mined and the proceeds have been sold commercially.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 07:00 PM
I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...

Most unlikely to happen. That treaty was signed for one main reason: To save money for the state by removing all incentive to invest in space...

In the current climate of austerity, getting rid of a treaty whose main reason was to save money is the last thing on any politician's mind. And private enterprise does not make or break international treaties.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty provides for private property rights as currently written. Companies like Planetary Resources are fully aware of this, and will conduct their business under the treaty.

To attempt to change the treaty would cause uncertainty in the industry, which is not a good thing.

That's interesting, perhaps I missed it. Can you point me to where it specifically provides for private property ownership? Specifically, my ability to own and manage an actual parcel of celestial land?

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 07:10 PM
A very interesting article with regards to Private Property rights in Space.

http://cei.org/news-releases/new-study-calls-recognition-private-property-claims-space
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/17/2012 07:43 PM
I'd like to see the 1967 treaty challenged and amended. If you allow private rights to certain resources, it will make the 1960s space race look like 2 guys racing go-carts. IMO...

Most unlikely to happen. That treaty was signed for one main reason: To save money for the state by removing all incentive to invest in space...

In the current climate of austerity, getting rid of a treaty whose main reason was to save money is the last thing on any politician's mind. And private enterprise does not make or break international treaties.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty provides for private property rights as currently written. Companies like Planetary Resources are fully aware of this, and will conduct their business under the treaty.

To attempt to change the treaty would cause uncertainty in the industry, which is not a good thing.

That's interesting, perhaps I missed it. Can you point me to where it specifically provides for private property ownership? Specifically, my ability to own and manage an actual parcel of celestial land?


The poster above was referring to private property but not necessarily land ownership

Article VIII
A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish iden- tifying data prior to their return

Edit: changed "right" to "ownership"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/17/2012 08:08 PM
That's interesting, perhaps I missed it. Can you point me to where it specifically provides for private property ownership? Specifically, my ability to own and manage an actual parcel of celestial land?



You are confusing private property ownership with private property rights.

Please advise what aspect of the "private moon landing" we are discussing here is impacted by the difference between property rights and property ownership.

A concrete example is that a ship in international waters has the right of control over the water that is beneath and around the ship, although the owners of the ship do not own that part of the sea. Such a regime has worked just fine for the purpose of supporting ocean navigation. A similar legal framework exists for outer space, so that a "company" that landed something on the Moon would have all rights over the territory it controls except ownership.


Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: rcoppola on 11/17/2012 08:35 PM
I'm not so much confusing them as I am pointing out that this treaty provides very little legal or regulatory guidance for what's coming.

Namely, the method for which a private company or citizen could purchase land rights and usage that can, at any time in the future, be sold or rented to another commercial or Govt entity.  Among many other issues.

There are many historical land-rights precedents to guide us, including our own western expansion.

Might as well start the legal briefs now and get some congressional committee hearings going.

As for what aspect of this particular "private moon landing" is impacted, I can't answer that since none of us know what their actual intentions are.

Suffice to say, I think it prudent to start to build out the legal means by which an individual or corporate investor can legally purchase land for either his/her rights to use or to rent / sell those rights to others for use while maintaining land ownership. It begins to define a market of "worth" and will spur, imo, the next great expansion.



Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 08:46 PM
Quote
property rights ... It's not a sexy part of this conversation, but it is an extremely important one.

Look guys, we can go on for pages and pages and pages over this. It's already been done in numerous threads.

So what do you say we start a separate thread so we can discuss this issue ad infinitum to our hearts' content? That way we can save a lot of reading time and carpel tonel syndrome for the lurkers who are specifically interested in the Private Moon Landing that is in the Works, and not necessarily interested in the general and finer points of the Lunar legal regime?

And so without further ado....

Here's the link: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30392.msg980420
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 11/17/2012 08:54 PM
I think, at least for now, no one is expecting any commercial lunar exploitation to be (much) cheaper than doing it on the Earth.  What Golden Spike are probably trying to do is prove the viability of non-governmental routine access to the Moon.  If they can demonstrate a four-stop 'lunar railroad' (Earth, LEO, EML-2, Moon) then investors will be a lot more interested in funding the engineers and scientists who claim there are commercially viable lunar resources.

The original infrastructure will likely only be used for a half-dozen or so lunar missions of which I suspect only three or four will be surface sorties.  However, if it demonstrates the viability of the concept, others will look a lot more closely at the concept than they are right now.  The designs and procedures will be in place to assemble a new 'rail-road' when the funded applications are ready to go.  Optimistically, NASA might even end up buying/leasing the original completed infrastructure to accelerate its own lunar missions.

This isn't as much "If you build it, they will come" as it is "if you build, it, they'll actually seriously think of why they would want to go".  From such thinking would investment in lunar applications follow.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 08:59 PM
I think, at least for now, no one is expecting any commercial lunar exploitation to be (much) cheaper than doing it on the Earth.  What Golden Spike are probably trying to do is prove the viability of non-governmental routine access to the Moon.  If they can demonstrate a four-stop 'lunar railroad' (Earth, LEO, EML-2, Moon) then investors will be a lot more interested in funding the engineers and scientists who claim there are commercially viable lunar resources.

The original infrastructure will likely only be used for a half-dozen or so lunar missions of which I suspect only three or four will be surface sorties.  However, if it demonstrates the viability of the concept, others will look a lot more closely at the concept than they are right now.  The designs and procedures will be in place to assemble a new 'rail-road' when the funded applications are ready to go.  Optimistically, NASA might even end up buying/leasing the original completed infrastructure to accelerate its own lunar missions.

This isn't as much "If you build it, they will come" as it is "if you build, it, they'll actually seriously think of why they would want to go".  From such thinking would investment in lunar applications follow.

Excellent analysis. I would only add that the initial sortie missions will also serve as enormously important "human precursor" missions that will do some serious prospecting/ground-truthing at the same time and thus elevate Lunar resources out of the speculation stage and thus go a long ways to reducing the present, pervasive giggle factor that dominates the conversation....
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/17/2012 09:07 PM
I'm not so much confusing them as I am pointing out that this treaty provides very little legal or regulatory guidance for what's coming.

Namely, the method for which a private company or citizen could purchase land rights and usage that can, at any time in the future, be sold or rented to another commercial or Govt entity.  Among many other issues.

There is no evidence that Golden Spike wants to sell lunar property. I think you are having a discussion that does not relate to this thread.

I would look forward to a hypothetical discussion of lunar property rights in another thread or forum.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: joek on 11/17/2012 09:24 PM
Look guys, we can go on for pages and pages and pages over this. It's already been done in numerous threads.

Agree.  Not only on NSF threads, but other venues with people who have devoted a great deal of time and effort to the issues of "space propery rights" (search for it... there's a mountain of informed analysis and commentary).

This isn't as much "If you build it, they will come" as it is "if you build, it, they'll actually seriously think of why they would want to go".  From such thinking would investment in lunar applications follow.

Well put.  And the longer  it remains a government-only effort, the longer it will take before non-government people start thinking seriously about it.  As to why now, anyone's guess...

Some uninformed speculation:

Since it is well known that NASA is currently developing plans to explore space beyond low earth orbit, is it possible that the subject of this thread is simply an offer by a consortium of private companies to provide an affordable lunar landing mission? In other words, is it possible that the customer is NASA?

Similar thoughts, although I'd express it as "is it possible a major partner is NASA?".

I can't help but think that the timing of this is not coincidental, given NASA's purported (renewed?) interest in EML and maybe depots, potential fiscal austerity measures, and budget timing.  Such a commercial effort may not be able to make an offer the government can't refuse; however, they may be able to make an offer that would be very difficult to refuse given the fiscal and political environment.  (Sorry, starting to wander into space policy territory there.)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/17/2012 10:09 PM
Helium-3? Why?

I know, I'm having a hard time trying to see them justify a commercial endeavour centered around He3.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth persuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it....

I keep telling you guys:

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR CRATERS!!! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27041.0;all)


It's not quite commercially viable to bring gold back from the moon, nor Platinum. Now something like Iridium - maybe, but there has to be an absolute use & need for it, perhaps a new technology, that would be worth while.

Why bother bringing it back?  If you're going to use it as money keep it there and issue gold certificates.  It couldn't get more secure...

I'll respond to this e-mail, as you make a good point that I will conceded as to issuing gold certificates to minted gold left on the lunar surface.

But I was only referring to physical metals as it relates to non-monetary use, which is why I pointed out Iridium (though gold is apparently less abundant than platinum). And just because it sn't widly used, that is indeed because it is so costly or scarce. But if you do look at gold, it has found its way into so many items in todays society, and we simply give them away or trash them (computers, cell phones, ect - where the gold wires & plating is used inside). Times have changed. Imagine a world where a metal such as Iridium is more plentiful, or Helium 3.; as plentiful as say copper; it might revolutionize our society with the right application(s)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/17/2012 11:01 PM
(gold is apparently less abundant than platinum). 

I beg to differ. LCROSS initially reported "< 1.6%" Au by mass. This was later reduced by a factor of 5 in an erratum (thanks to Dr. Spudis for pointing that out to me personally), but still, 0.3% (3 ppt) is a nearly unheard of concentration of gold.

Now, I am the first to admit that the LCROSS measurement is most likely a massive overestimate (but keep in mind that the S. Alan Stern himself was the PI for the instrument on LRO that supposedly detected the gold and was a coauthor on the paper that reported the result--it's his baby!).

But even so, if it's off by an order of magnitude, 300 ppm is still huge. I saw Chris Lewicki imply that there might be 200 ppm of PGM's in certain (extremely rare) types of asteroids (that happen to be devoid of conventional elements used to make rocket fuel). Frankly, I don't believe. I have never seen a reference to a meteorite of any kind containing more than 100 ppm of Pt. If anyone can find a reference to a signficantly higher Pt concentration, I will eat my hat.

Moreover, the Au--detected by Stern's instrument--is in an easily accessible and easily processable form--it's literally gold dust mixed in a permafrost/dirty ice, just lieing at the surface waiting to be scooped up. We know where it is.

Meanwhile, while we know that metallic asteroid NEO's must exist within a reasonable delta v from Earth at least every now and then, I am not aware of any actual concrete candidates. In addition, it's going to take some serious, hard-core, hard rock mining to get at it.

With Lunar gold, however, once you extract the water and volatiles, you'll be left with a bone dry powder that merely has to be ran through an electrostatic separator a couple of times, and then washed in mercury, and you are going to have literally tonnes of gold.

Quote from: robertross
But I was only referring to physical metals as it relates to non-monetary use, which is why I pointed out Iridium .And just because it sn't widly used, that is indeed because it is so costly or scarce. But if you do look at gold, it has found its way into so many items in todays society, and we simply give them away or trash them (computers, cell phones, ect - where the gold wires & plating is used inside). Times have changed. Imagine a world where a metal such as Iridium is more plentiful, or Helium 3.; as plentiful as say copper; it might revolutionize our society with the right application(s)

Iridium isn't widely used because there is no need for iridium. It is less expensive than gold. Repeat: iridium is less expensive than gold. And if iridium or He3 was as plentiful as copper, it would not be worth it to import it from space.

Any substance worth importing from space must be worth much more on a per kg basis than launch costs are on a per kg basis; precious few substances meet this criterion. Moreover, you will have to import a lot of whatever that is in order to recoup your capital and operating costs. Thus, of those that are also abundant enough that a major space operation won't crash the price there is only one: GOLD!

However, I agree that the "Golden Spike" consortium would seem to have an ace in the hole. I'm predicting that it's going to be something we haven't really heard about before. I'm probably wrong about that: they'll probably talk about looking for PGM's from crashed asteroids: that's been the stock MoonEx line all along. But we shall see. I've said my piece. No need to go on and on about it. The market will decide, as Martijn likes to say! :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/17/2012 11:34 PM
(gold is apparently less abundant than platinum). 

I beg to differ.

On Earth.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: robertross on 11/17/2012 11:41 PM

Quote from: robertross
But I was only referring to physical metals as it relates to non-monetary use, which is why I pointed out Iridium .And just because it sn't widly used, that is indeed because it is so costly or scarce. But if you do look at gold, it has found its way into so many items in todays society, and we simply give them away or trash them (computers, cell phones, ect - where the gold wires & plating is used inside). Times have changed. Imagine a world where a metal such as Iridium is more plentiful, or Helium 3.; as plentiful as say copper; it might revolutionize our society with the right application(s)

Iridium isn't widely used because there is no need for iridium. It is less expensive than gold. Repeat: iridium is less expensive than gold. And if iridium or He3 was as plentiful as copper, it would not be worth it to import it from space.


No, it's because there's so little of it.

From wiki: "Iridium is one of the least abundant elements in the Earth's crust", and I believe that.

Many elements centuries ago were not even heard of, and yet now we have become dependant upon them. If Iridium were more common, we would likely find incredible uses for it, such as electronics & high tenp components.

Again, from Wiki: "The demand for iridium surged from 2.5 tonnes in 2009 to 10.4 tonnes in 2010, mostly because of electronics-related applications "

But this is all assuming the goal is for these noble metals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/18/2012 01:00 AM
Okay Warren,
I think your theory here is reasonable.  They might be after highly concentrated gold.  Stern lends credibility to the theory, and the name "golden spike" is also potentially suggestive. 

Out of curiosity, what do people figure the gold dust concentrating method is?  What process would account for parts per thousand gold in ice?  Where did it come from?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Silmfeanor on 11/18/2012 01:16 AM
Please, just like the split-off about moon property rights, make a split-off or look at the old threads about mining on the moon.

There has been quite a lot of discussion about this again, and I would like to preserve this thread from 20 pages about how many PPM gold/titanium/iridium/He3/unobtanium is needed, how many there is, and how you get it out...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/18/2012 02:58 AM
OK yes, I understand we don't want to go on for 20 pages on PGM ppm's. That's why I said I've said my piece. On the other hand, speculation about the business case counts, and Grant asked a legitimate question, and he's a professional economic geologist as well as a well-versed amateur planetary scientist, so he deserves an answer.

Now, we could start a new thread, and I probably will in a couple of days, but for this: I know for a fact those guys at Planetary Resources monitor these threads because they threaten to sue Chris Bergin over any perceived libel/slander, and then Chris has to go back and delete the offensive posts.
 
So as a favor to them, I'm going to give them a freebee, in case they haven't figured it out for themselves yet.

So here goes as briefly as possible, and this will be my last post on this thread on the subject:

Background:

B1: LCROSS/LAMP/LRO team (that included S. Alan Stern, founder of "Golden Spike Company", as PI/coauthor) reported an upper limit of up to 0.3% by mass of gold (Au) in the LCROSS impact plume; other metals were also detected.

B2: They also found anomalously high mercury (Hg).

B3: They didn't really believe their own Hg results until they ran across George Reed's theory that Hg is volatile at typical Lunar temperatures, and will therefore be concentrated in the polar cold traps like water.
 
B4: Meanwhile, at the time, there was no published theory that could explain anomalously high gold concentrations, therefore, the reported Au concentrations were hard to believe.

BUT:

Premises:

P1: Electrostatic dust transport (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0019103562900118) is a universally recognized process on the Moon and asteroids. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103508000808)

P2: Electrostatic separation (http://www.ehow.com/about_6682205_electrostatic-separation-precious-metals.html) is a universally recognized process for separating precious metals from the gangue (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangue) (see attached diagram).

P3: It therefore stands to reason that voltage differentials on the Moon will affect different particles differently; in particular, conductive particles will accumulate more charges and therefore suffer much greater rates rates of acceleration than dielectric materials (aka "dirt").

P4: Gold particles will thus have a much higher mobility than ordinary dust particles.

P5: But when they land in a permanently shaded crater, the electrostatic transport/separation mechanism ceases, because it's driven by the Sun and the day/night terminator. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_terminator)

Conclusion:

C1: Gold will be concentrated in polar cold traps--not because they are cold, but because they are permanently shaded.

Supporting empirical evidence:

E1: Apollo 12 samples of pristine rocks averaged about 5 ppb Au concentration by weight, whereas regolith gold concentrations averaged only about 2 ppb, entailing that 60% of the gold in formerly pristine rocks went somewhere....

Beauty part:

BP1: the precious metal and the propellant required to send it home are found in exactly the same deposit.
___________________________________________

OK, that's the last I'm going to mention this in this thread. The speculation is that there may be something new this time. The above represents something new. My 0.4 milligrams of Au worth. YMMV Thanks.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 11/18/2012 06:11 AM
You can have the gold. I'll take the mercury and make liquid mirrors larger than the space-based human-assembled apertures FISO has authored. The lunar poles point up out of the solar system and up out of the galaxy, and a symmetric array like GMT linked by fiber optics with CCDs just a bit above ambient cryogenic temperatures could integrate deep field cosmology in optical that neither Hubble, Keck, Gemini, LBT can do. If I want IR deep field cosmology, I'll need some gold to coat the mirrors. With TRL in off-axis secondary mirrors and lenses, I might be able to point the collecting power at targets up to 10 degrees off the lunar polar axis. Can you leverage gold simultaneously as financial and science instrument?  :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/18/2012 01:02 PM
Are you sure this would pick up metals? Maybe the lunar poles are filled with polyester undergarments... :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/18/2012 02:34 PM
Are you sure this would pick up metals? Maybe the lunar poles are filled with polyester undergarments... :)

That theory has been debunked.  They are looking for a black monolith, as shown in the documentary film "2001".
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/18/2012 02:35 PM
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty provides for private property rights as currently written.

Here we go again.

No it doesn't. 

Review my posting history on the subject, where I support my opinion.

Many legal scholars claim that both the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) and the 1979 Moon Treaty outlaw private property claims in space. Simberg argues that the Outer Space Treaty only precludes land claims by sovereign nations---not by individuals or corporations. He also argues that the U.S. should repudiate the Moon Treaty (to which it is not a signatory), which does explicitly outlaw such claims. (http://cei.org/news-releases/new-study-calls-recognition-private-property-claims-space)

I am not in total agreement with Rand Simberg on his proposal either, and have explained my reasoning on this issue here on the forum.  Some parties share some of my reasoning; here is Eric Dawson:

To grant a property right, a nation must have sovereignty or control over the property in question, otherwise the grant is meaningless. Assuming that the legislation is not intended to be meaningless, what would actually happen under this proposal is that the United States would essentially promise not to take military or other action to remove a private party from a portion of a celestial body.  (http://www.openmarket.org/2012/06/01/new-space-property-rights-criticism/)

The issue continues to be about private ownership or real property.  Those who continue to place personal property as the focus of this issue muddy the waters.

This aspect of the debate has several threads already.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/18/2012 02:35 PM
Aren't big things made there. In segments. By a little company called ... ATK?

Huh.  So they've diversified into golden spike manufacture.  Whooda thunk
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/18/2012 02:39 PM
So if the 'goal' is extracting He3, and you look at Wiki (yeah, I know), there is the notion that Chandrayaan-I may have been looking for it.

I still do not think that would be a worthwhile endeavor.  However, I have made a mistake (back in 1977), and I may be wrong in my opinion on this.  If so, I like my crow plucked and gutted, sauteed quickly in EV olive oil with a smattering of salt, pepper and chives.

There is a big part of me inside thinking that something WAS found on the moon, something worth pursuing, and this is the attempt to lay claim on it.

Per the terms of the OST, first come, first served.  It is a race that is just now being acknowledged.

The "something found" part is also correct: they have found the "higher ground". The higher ground exists at the north and the south poles, due to their energy generation potential.  The shadows cast by the PV facility will be long and permanent, albeit slowly rotating, if they are developed to eventually support a large mining operation and thousands of people.  Simple sketches, illustrating the point are attached.

I'm pretty sure, barring ready to deploy nuclear energy power plants, that this is a good part of the business case, and maybe the most important part.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/18/2012 03:11 PM
Helium-3? Why?

Harrison Schmitt Talks Commercial Moon and Mars (http://spaceref.ca/commercial-space/harrison-schmitt-talks-up-the-moon.html?utm_campaign=&utm_source=direct-srs.gs&utm_medium=srs.gs-copypaste&utm_content=awesm-publisher):-
Quote
In the book I wrote on the subject, "Return to the Moon: The Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space," is basically a business plan on how you would do that. And if you believe that business plan and you meet the milestones in the business plan, so investors continue to support you, I think within 15 to 20 years you could have a settlement on the Moon from the time you start your first investment-related activity.

But you need that first step. And actually, the first step has nothing to do with power production. The first step is probably one where you are going to use Helium 3-deuterium reactors, at about the current level of development, to produce medical isotopes. It turns out that the fusion product, the protons, are ideal for radiating certain kinds of elements to produce isotopes that are important to positron emission tomography (PET) - positron emitting isotopes that have short half-lives. Right now, PET diagnostics, which is the diagnostic of choice for a particular stage of cancer, uses a relatively long half-life positron emitter of Fluorine-18 isotope and it decays in a half-life of 110 minutes. And that's great. It doesn't seem too long but it's too long for children and pregnant women to be able to take advantage of that technology because of the residual radiation.

Whereas with proton irradiation, you can produce isotopes that have half-lives of 12 minutes or less so that changes the whole paradigm of how you do cancer diagnostics for children and pregnant women. That is probably the first business opportunity of this technology. It's on the pathway to producing power downstream but it is also a business opportunity that can attract investors.



Current demand is driven by neutron detectors (esp. homeland security applications).

Using alternatives or ramping up He3 production here on earth would probably be easier than scouring lunar regolith for the stuff.

Yeah, you'd have thought so, wouldn't you.

cheers, Martin
This is wishful thinking...

You can easily use protons (or deuterons, etc) for medical isotope production quite easily with a particle accelerator. It's not even that expensive to do it, certainly not worth going all the way to the Moon to extract very minute amounts of it from the lunar regolith. Heck, I am working with a particle accelerator in school that does this exact thing.

This is not the golden ticket. It has got to be something else.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 11/18/2012 03:27 PM
Helium-3? Why?

Harrison Schmitt Talks Commercial Moon and Mars (http://spaceref.ca/commercial-space/harrison-schmitt-talks-up-the-moon.html?utm_campaign=&utm_source=direct-srs.gs&utm_medium=srs.gs-copypaste&utm_content=awesm-publisher):-
Quote
In the book I wrote on the subject, "Return to the Moon: The Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space," is basically a business plan on how you would do that. And if you believe that business plan and you meet the milestones in the business plan, so investors continue to support you, I think within 15 to 20 years you could have a settlement on the Moon from the time you start your first investment-related activity.

But you need that first step. And actually, the first step has nothing to do with power production. The first step is probably one where you are going to use Helium 3-deuterium reactors, at about the current level of development, to produce medical isotopes. It turns out that the fusion product, the protons, are ideal for radiating certain kinds of elements to produce isotopes that are important to positron emission tomography (PET) - positron emitting isotopes that have short half-lives. Right now, PET diagnostics, which is the diagnostic of choice for a particular stage of cancer, uses a relatively long half-life positron emitter of Fluorine-18 isotope and it decays in a half-life of 110 minutes. And that's great. It doesn't seem too long but it's too long for children and pregnant women to be able to take advantage of that technology because of the residual radiation.

Whereas with proton irradiation, you can produce isotopes that have half-lives of 12 minutes or less so that changes the whole paradigm of how you do cancer diagnostics for children and pregnant women. That is probably the first business opportunity of this technology. It's on the pathway to producing power downstream but it is also a business opportunity that can attract investors.



Current demand is driven by neutron detectors (esp. homeland security applications).

Using alternatives or ramping up He3 production here on earth would probably be easier than scouring lunar regolith for the stuff.

Yeah, you'd have thought so, wouldn't you.

cheers, Martin
This is wishful thinking...

You can easily use protons (or deuterons, etc) for medical isotope production quite easily with a particle accelerator. It's not even that expensive to do it, certainly not worth going all the way to the Moon to extract very minute amounts of it from the lunar regolith. Heck, I am working with a particle accelerator in school that does this exact thing.

This is not the golden ticket. It has got to be something else.

I agree--we are missing the "golden ticket" that closes the business case--remember we are talking of an investment of at least $1 billion.  Would it not be cheaper to just finance t/space?  If I remember correctly t/space's plan was to have 2 ships land on the moon  so if something goes wrong you have a backup.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/18/2012 04:29 PM
This is where I add my 2 cents on the business case for private Lunar surface operations. Any materials produce on the Lunar surface that is then used on the Lunar surface has a minimum value of $20,000/kg. Using regolith as radiation shielding on the Lunar surface for a cost of $100/kg makes it "dirt cheap" compared to bringing anything from Earth. So a simple front loader that can move regolith around to wherever it would be useful would be for the developer and operator of the front loader a very valid business case but only if there were some one to sell its services and "dirt" to.


A semi or permanent base will create many needs for innovative equipment to provide services to the base. But first someone needs a business case to build the base itself.


In Paul Spudis article he talks about how TRL is misleading funding of innovative ISRU. This is mainly because of the fact that the experimental hardware using the tech has never flown in space or used in micro or low gravity.

http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/ (http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/)


If a regular transport to the Lunar surface opens up, then experiment packages of 100kg costing $6.25M in transport costs starts to look very reasonable to innovative space tech investors. Where $10M in total can result in hardware tested on the Moon. Currently it would cost you several $100'sM to do the same. If it cost $250M to land 4mt of payload on the surface then that’s a price of $62,500/kg. If a business offered a service at that price to deliver a payload to the Lunar surface then that in itself is a business case that can close. A flight rate for such a business of 1 a year would net the company ~$50M in profit per year ($125M for the launch, $75M for the lander, and $50M in profit). NOTE: The cargo landers are nearly identical but scaled up in size from the first successful one landed, an outgrowth of the Lunar X-prize. Five years of operation is enough to payback the initial development investment of ~ $250M.


The result is that a factor of 10 drop in cost to do R&D on the Lunar surface would net a >x10 increase in customers. $10M is in the range of Universities receiving Grants and other sources of funding to do a 100kg experiment package sent to the Moon. Even solely private funded new-space start-ups could easily afford it. $10M is a lot easier to raise than $100M.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/18/2012 06:07 PM
Helium-3? Why?

Harrison Schmitt Talks Commercial Moon and Mars (http://spaceref.ca/commercial-space/harrison-schmitt-talks-up-the-moon.html?utm_campaign=&utm_source=direct-srs.gs&utm_medium=srs.gs-copypaste&utm_content=awesm-publisher):-
Quote
In the book I wrote on the subject, "Return to the Moon: The Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space," is basically a business plan on how you would do that. And if you believe that business plan and you meet the milestones in the business plan, so investors continue to support you, I think within 15 to 20 years you could have a settlement on the Moon from the time you start your first investment-related activity.

But you need that first step. And actually, the first step has nothing to do with power production. The first step is probably one where you are going to use Helium 3-deuterium reactors, at about the current level of development, to produce medical isotopes. It turns out that the fusion product, the protons, are ideal for radiating certain kinds of elements to produce isotopes that are important to positron emission tomography (PET) - positron emitting isotopes that have short half-lives. Right now, PET diagnostics, which is the diagnostic of choice for a particular stage of cancer, uses a relatively long half-life positron emitter of Fluorine-18 isotope and it decays in a half-life of 110 minutes. And that's great. It doesn't seem too long but it's too long for children and pregnant women to be able to take advantage of that technology because of the residual radiation.

Whereas with proton irradiation, you can produce isotopes that have half-lives of 12 minutes or less so that changes the whole paradigm of how you do cancer diagnostics for children and pregnant women. That is probably the first business opportunity of this technology. It's on the pathway to producing power downstream but it is also a business opportunity that can attract investors.



Current demand is driven by neutron detectors (esp. homeland security applications).

Using alternatives or ramping up He3 production here on earth would probably be easier than scouring lunar regolith for the stuff.

Yeah, you'd have thought so, wouldn't you.

cheers, Martin
This is wishful thinking...

You can easily use protons (or deuterons, etc) for medical isotope production quite easily with a particle accelerator. It's not even that expensive to do it, certainly not worth going all the way to the Moon to extract very minute amounts of it from the lunar regolith. Heck, I am working with a particle accelerator in school that does this exact thing.

This is not the golden ticket. It has got to be something else.

I agree--we are missing the "golden ticket" that closes the business case--remember we are talking of an investment of at least $1 billion.  Would it not be cheaper to just finance t/space?  If I remember correctly t/space's plan was to have 2 ships land on the moon  so if something goes wrong you have a backup.
t/Space for using their CEV as an OTV ( orbital transfer vehicle ) could work out just fine ( no landing gear as would only go between orbits, less mass and eliminates a part that could fail ). Could have the landing gear if they used it for crew landing instead of another type of lander.

The CEV could be modified to carry cargo on the outside LEO to LLO  or EML1/2. Not volume limited, but could not return cargo this way as there would be not heat shield for the cargo, just for the CEV. Cargo could be sent back when it is stored in the inside of the SEV. These packages to be sent back would probable be small so could be put in the crew lander.

Problem with it bringing cargo to the surface is that the CEV has to take off in order for most of the cargo pod to be accessible. Plus the pod would have to handle the flames from the engines when the SEV takes off. And there is the limited volume of the cargo too. The engines are in the way for side access.

For crew and cargo landing on the moon they could use the
http://www.sei.aero/eng/papers/uploads/archive/SEV-L2-Lander-Presentation_1Oct2012.pdf
Than is without the in space stage as it only would need to go between LLO and the Lunar surface if not using an EML-2 gateway.

Stretch the tanks length to make it a tanker for a LLO depot.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/18/2012 11:46 PM
[quote author=RocketmanUS link=topic=30367.msg980637#msg980637 date=1353265674
For crew and cargo landing on the moon they could use the
http://www.sei.aero/eng/papers/uploads/archive/SEV-L2-Lander-Presentation_1Oct2012.pdf
Than is without the in space stage as it only would need to go between LLO and the Lunar surface if not using an EML-2 gateway.

Stretch the tanks length to make it a tanker for a LLO depot.
[/quote]
Sei do amazing work. The note at the end of the presentation about partnering with industry and nasa for future work is interesting- I'd be surprised if they weren't involved even as a contractor.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/19/2012 02:55 AM
There is a claim in this thread that the ESA lander has been cancelled.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22770.msg980779#msg980779

The last paragraph of the translation mentions that Germany would not continue the project without a partner.
(im not saying the report is confirmed.. I have no idea)

That would be a pretty good international partner though. Is there any plausibility in germany dealing with an american commercial company directly? Normally I figure a nation wishes to use local launchers, since this ploughs money back into its own economy and tech development, but do german businesses get anything out of a soyuz launched from a french site?

(totally uninformed speculation on my part, I know even less about european space politics than american)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/19/2012 03:14 AM
Warren,

Highly informative post!

You just started a space race if it wasn't already happening. 

Today was a travel day for me.   I couldn't reply at the time I read it, but 20 minutes later I noticed myself still grinning like the cheshire cat. 

I find your mechanism highly plausible.  Well done!

I look forward to your thread on the topic, though I'll be very busy over the next couple weeks.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/19/2012 04:43 AM
As thrilling as it maybe that someone here has invented a business case for going to the Moon, that kind of discussion needs to go into another thread.

This thread is for discussions about this particular company's approach to going to the Moon. What is particularly appropriate would be:

Information about the principals in the new company;

Information about any patents the principals may hold that would be germane to going to the Moon;

and, of course, any info gleaned about this "Golden Spike".

Everything else, including discussions about property rights and metals on the Moon can go elsewhere, please.

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/19/2012 05:37 AM
As thrilling as it maybe that someone here has invented a business case for going to the Moon, that kind of discussion needs to go into another thread.

This thread is for discussions about this particular company's approach to going to the Moon. What is particularly appropriate would be:

Information about the principals in the new company;

Information about any patents the principals may hold that would be germane to going to the Moon;

and, of course, any info gleaned about this "Golden Spike".

Everything else, including discussions about property rights and metals on the Moon can go elsewhere, please.


Except that this is a purely speculative thread. There is no certainty that there is actually a company out there wanting to do this!
I think business case is worth speculating on- nothing else actually matters!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 07:18 AM
Golden Spike Company info:

http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityDetail.do?quitButtonDestination=BusinessEntityResults&fileId=20111129491&masterFileId=20111129491&srchTyp=ENTITY&entityId2=20111129491&nameTyp=ENT

Future company website info:

http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/goldenspikecompany.com

Attorney for company:

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/09/20/aviation-law-now-with-rockets

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/10/31/spaceflight-litigation-the-liability-atmosphere-aw

(from nasawatch tweets)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/19/2012 07:40 AM
Golden Spike Company info:

http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityDetail.do?quitButtonDestination=BusinessEntityResults&fileId=20111129491&masterFileId=20111129491&srchTyp=ENTITY&entityId2=20111129491&nameTyp=ENT

Future company website info:

http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/goldenspikecompany.com

Attorney for company:

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/09/20/aviation-law-now-with-rockets

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/10/31/spaceflight-litigation-the-liability-atmosphere-aw

(from nasawatch tweets)
And the attorney's own website
http://www.douggriffithlaw.com/
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 11/19/2012 08:51 AM
The Future of Lunar Tourism (2003)
http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/the_future_of_lunar_tourism.shtml

Unmistakable synergies and frustrations. Intriguing POV from Hawaii as locus of tourism industry. I point to lunar science on principle, but the planet has 1200 billionaires and +10,000 millionaires. The 'build it they will come' may apply. Two markets for reusable architecture aside from national goals. Yadda neither SSII or Lynx II have flown yadda.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/19/2012 01:10 PM
{snip}
For crew and cargo landing on the moon they could use the
http://www.sei.aero/eng/papers/uploads/archive/SEV-L2-Lander-Presentation_1Oct2012.pdf
Than is without the in space stage as it only would need to go between LLO and the Lunar surface if not using an EML-2 gateway.

Stretch the tanks length to make it a tanker for a LLO depot.

For a two week stay on the Moon the astronauts are going to need some mobility.  Use the wheeled version of the MMSEV and replace the ladder with a ramp.  An extra mass of over a ton.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/19/2012 01:51 PM
Nelson:  Thanks for all those links.

None of them discuss Golden Spike's business plan.

The speculation about gold and mercury mining is interesting.  If anybody knows about the concentrations of those elements in greater detail than mentioned above, that would be interesting to know.

What would happen to Earth's economy if they should strike it rich?  Just how much gold do we need for gold plated connectors and such?  Plus, most of the big countries don't back their currency with gold either.  Finally, you'd have to go up there, dig it up, refine it, and bring it back for what, $1700/ounce?

This thread is for discussions about this particular company's approach to going to the Moon. ... Everything else, including discussions about property rights and metals on the Moon can go elsewhere, please.

Not so fast, kemosabe.  Nelson posted several links which answer the question about who, but which say little or nothing about why and how.

With a name like "Golden Spike", and some evidence that there is gold in them thar hills, gold rush speculation is pertinant on this thread.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/19/2012 02:36 PM

With a name like "Golden Spike", and some evidence that there is gold in them thar hills, gold rush speculation is pertinant on this thread.

You could be 100% correct, but if gold extraction is going to be real, it deserves its' own thread.

Same with discussions about the optimal transport system for astronauts on the moon, please create a special thread for the technical details.

And, in particular, what we want to avoid here is, assuming that this company reveals its plans, the usual 20 messages about how they are going to fail because they don't use My Personal Favorite Technical Approach.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 03:24 PM
My hunch is that Golden Spike has nothing to do with mining, and everything to do with transportation.  Their name appears to be a clear refernece to the transcontinental railroad.

With a goal of manned landings, rather than unmanned vehicles, and a target date of 2020, it appears that the customers for this system will be primarily political entities rather than commercial firms.  This sounds more like an attempt to resume and continue where Apollo left off.  Many of the involved people were major players in NASA manned spaceflight.

And with only 7 years they will need to dramatically limit their scope.  Where possible, they will buy rather than develop system components.  They will take a modular building-block approach so that they can buy launches from ULA and SpaceX, rather than waiting for an HLV.  They will buy Bigelow inflatable modules that they will eventually be delivering to the lunar surface.  And their sole  focus will be development of a manned lunar lander.

Because their customers will not be profit-limited, they will not need to go with the lowest-cost route.  They will have a near-monopoly on manned lunar access, and the primary driver will be global political prestiege.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 03:34 PM
And who would be the customers?

Do you think that NASA would turn down a comparatively low-cost opportunity to beat China to the Moon?  And what about Japan?  They are not too happy with Chinese territorial disputes...  And what about the ISS participants?  How do you think they would feel about the opportunity to have a national hero walking on the Moon?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/19/2012 03:35 PM
If the concentration of gold[\b] and other platinum group metals spike[\b]s above background levels owing to to concentration mechanism suggested by Warren, then "refining" could[\I] be as easy as removing some ice and some mercury.  There may be other beneficial metals in there too, and even some interesting alloys conceivably, but they should all be, I would expect, very small in size.  If so, then sorting "high-grading" becomes a relatively straightforward endeavor.  The non-metallic by-product, water, is interesting in it's own right. 

I see a spike in gold concentration as potentially relevant to a company named golden spike.  I doubt it's just me thinking that.  Perhaps you could suggest a better thread to discuss this potential golden spike.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 03:37 PM
(from nasawatch tweets)

'nuff said.

There has been some speculation that the nasawatch tweets are inacurate, particularly WRT names involved. But if it's the case that Golden Spike Company is involved, then at least S. Alan Stern is involved, since his name is on the Golden Spike documents.

As for the possible business plan: "Golden Spike Company" could be a double entendre: there is the obvious reference to the transcontinental railroad--and there was a "Golden Spike Company" that was mining gold in the Sugarloaf Mining District just a very few miles to the northwest of Boulder Colorado in Boulder County.

Note also, as I've pointed out before, that Stern was the Principle Investigator (PI) of the LAMP instrument on LRO that detected the anomalous gold signature within the LCROSS impact plume (and a coauthor of the paper that reported those results). Stern can also be quite the out of the box thinker when he wants to be: e.g., check out his "History of the Lunar Atmosphere"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 03:53 PM
Other connections:

NW also mentioned Paragon as being involved, which is plausible, since Stern serves on the Board there. Note also that the company was founded by Peter Diamandis himself, along with Peter Raven, the famous botanist, (http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/about/additional-information/president-emeritus.aspx) (he wrote the main biology textbook I used when studying for the biology GRE's a long time ago), and Richard Farson, the psychologist. (http://www.amazon.com/Management-Absurd-Richard-Farson/dp/0684830442/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) Here are all three of them commenting on Jane Poynter's book about her experience being an inmate at Biosphere II for 2 years. (http://www.janepoynter.com/biosphere_book_praise.php) And guess what: She's the chairwoman of the Board at Paragon! (http://www.paragonsdc.com/paragon_board_09.php)

So that's interesting: everything needed for a permanent crewed presence--including growing food in space--is being developed at Paragon....

@ Hernalt: You're in Tucson right? Maybe you could do a little detective work over at the Paragon facilities.... ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 04:11 PM
I see a spike in gold concentration as potentially relevant to a company named golden spike.  I doubt it's just me thinking that.

 So "Golden Spike" could refer to the UV emission peaks corresponding to gold that were observed by LAMP instrument in addition to the transcontinental railway allusion and old-timey gold mining companies! Very cool! I didn't think of that one!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 04:13 PM

As for the possible business plan: "Golden Spike Company" could be a double entendre: there is the obvious reference to the transcontinental railroad--and there was a "Golden Spike Company" that was mining gold in the Sugarloaf Mining District just a very few miles to the northwest of Boulder Colorado in Boulder County.


Could be.  And in Denver there is the Golden Spike Roofing Company.  Perhaps you can also argue the case for lunar shingles?

If you do a white pages search for Golden Spike, the state where it is most used (22 instances) is in Utah.  Colorado has only 2.

I personally don't think that they are going to select a name that is a misleading reference to an obscure, historically insignificant company.

I could be wrong.  And this could also be pure vapor...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/19/2012 04:26 PM
...gold rush speculation is pertinant on this thread.

You could be 100% correct, but if gold extraction is going to be real, it deserves its' own thread.

I mentioned in general that gold rush speculation is pertinent.  Don't confuse my general observation with a prediction from me which would have to be some percentage correct.

I'm not quite getting your objection to the several biz plan speculations above, tho.  What are we supposed to talk about, then?

My hunch is that Golden Spike has nothing to do with mining, and everything to do with transportation.  Their name appears to be a clear refernece to the transcontinental railroad.

That was my first guess too.  Transportation.  NASA wants to get to the Moon?  Flight #123, at five o'clock on Mondays, still has some seats available.  They could have a "near monopoly on manned lunar access".

I dunno about your idea that the Moon has developed a case of lunar shingles.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 04:42 PM

That was my first guess too.  Transportation.  NASA wants to get to the Moon?  Flight #123, at five o'clock on Mondays, still has some seats available.


With NASA's proposal for an ISS-style EML2 outpost, it could also be that they would only need to be able to deliver an uncrewed lander to EML2, and rent seats to the lunar surface .  However the wording about "commercial astronauts" on the lunar surface suggests otherwise...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 04:47 PM

As for the possible business plan: "Golden Spike Company" could be a double entendre: there is the obvious reference to the transcontinental railroad--and there was a "Golden Spike Company" that was mining gold in the Sugarloaf Mining District just a very few miles to the northwest of Boulder Colorado in Boulder County.

Could be.  And in Denver there is the Golden Spike Roofing Company.  Perhaps you can also argue the case for lunar shingles?

HAHA. Very funny....

Quote
If you do a white pages search for Golden Spike, the state where it is most used (22 instances) is in Utah.  Colorado has only 2.

That's because the original golden spike was nailed in Utah.

Quote
I personally don't think that they are going to select a name that is a misleading reference to an obscure, historically insignificant company.

Except for the fact that that company also operated out of Boulder CO.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 06:15 PM
Quote from: Warren Platts link=topic=30367.msg981141#msg981141

Except for the fact that that company also operated out of Boulder CO.
[/quote

Nice try.  However:

(1) It is very unlikely that any of their prospective clients will be from Boulder.
(2) I would hazard a guess that even in Boulder the vast majority have never heard of said mining company.
(3) Even Mr Google does not appear to have any recollection of such a company in Colorado...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 11/19/2012 06:52 PM
Maybe you could do a little detective work over at the Paragon facilities.... ;)
I may do this if another source occurs in addition to nasawatch.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 07:03 PM
Quote from: Warren Platts
Except for the fact that that company also operated out of Boulder CO.

Nice try.  However:

(1) It is very unlikely that any of their prospective clients will be from Boulder.
(2) I would hazard a guess that even in Boulder the vast majority have never heard of said mining company.
(3) Even Mr Google does not appear to have any recollection of such a company in Colorado...

I agree sir, that it's a slender reed indeed. Stern would pretty much have to be a local history buff for him to be aware of it. Here is the link I found:

http://boards.ancestry.com/localities.northam.usa.states.colorado.counties.boulder/1696/mb.ashx?pnt=1

On the other hand, there is still go4Mars's suggetion that "Golden Spike" could also be a sly reference to UV spectra that correspond to gold's signature. After all, it was S. Alan Stern's instrument that detected the gold in the first place. Thus, he's personally invested in the results. It would be a great vindication of his stewardship if it could be shown that the Au results were not pure vapor!

Thus, by having allusions to both literal gold as well to the transcontinental railroad in the same company name, it could be a subtle clue that the precious metals and rocket fuel are to be found in the same place! ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/19/2012 07:05 PM
Maybe you could do a little detective work over at the Paragon facilities.... ;)

I may do this if another source occurs in addition to nasawatch.

That's what I'm sayin': you can be the second source! Just walk in the front door and start asking questions. See what they say.

Get crackin' gum shoe!

And don't take no for an answer! Keep in mind Peter Diamandis's tweet of the day:

Quote
Peter's Law #11: "'No' simply means begin again at one level higher."

 http://www.diamandis.com/peters-laws/

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/19/2012 07:39 PM
My hunch is that Golden Spike has nothing to do with mining, and everything to do with transportation.  Their name appears to be a clear refernece to the transcontinental railroad.

With a goal of manned landings, rather than unmanned vehicles, and a target date of 2020, it appears that the customers for this system will be primarily political entities rather than commercial firms.  This sounds more like an attempt to resume and continue where Apollo left off.  Many of the involved people were major players in NASA manned spaceflight.

And with only 7 years they will need to dramatically limit their scope.  Where possible, they will buy rather than develop system components.  They will take a modular building-block approach so that they can buy launches from ULA and SpaceX, rather than waiting for an HLV.  They will buy Bigelow inflatable modules that they will eventually be delivering to the lunar surface.  And their sole  focus will be development of a manned lunar lander.

Because their customers will not be profit-limited, they will not need to go with the lowest-cost route.  They will have a near-monopoly on manned lunar access, and the primary driver will be global political prestiege.

I would say that it is their first goal to set up a transportation system between Earth and the Lunar surface. The article dose say they want to establish a man-tended outpost in the long term.

They might be the future commercial bus and trucking to the moon.

Quote from: A_M_Swallow
Quote from: RocketmanUS on 11/18/2012 12:07 PM

    {snip}
    For crew and cargo landing on the moon they could use the
    http://www.sei.aero/eng/papers/uploads/archive/SEV-L2-Lander-Presentation_1Oct2012.pdf
    Than is without the in space stage as it only would need to go between LLO and the Lunar surface if not using an EML-2 gateway.

    Stretch the tanks length to make it a tanker for a LLO depot.

Quote
For a two week stay on the Moon the astronauts are going to need some mobility.  Use the wheeled version of the MMSEV and replace the ladder with a ramp.  An extra mass of over a ton.
SEV on the lander should stay there and be able to land up to four crew.
Have a moble SEV on the surface.

They lander would need to be bigger to handle the extra mass to land th moble SEV with crew and supplies. Better to land each item on a different sortie.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Moe Grills on 11/19/2012 07:54 PM
  I might come across as grouchy, sorry, but ENOUGH!!
The arguments are starting to go in circles.
I`ve heard it all before....years ago.

Surely you remember that it has been almost 40 years since a living breathing human being last visited the lunar regions.
Since then no living breathing human has ascended higher than 700 kilometers above our planet.
Many of you weren`t even sperm and eggs when it last happened.

  It`s starting to get doubtful if ANY human being, billionaire or not,
will even flyby the moon, never mind land on it, this decade.
Certainly Obama does not want NASA to land humans on the moon this decade nor the next.
Cynical and skeptical of his space plans I am now.
I can prove my doubts. How many times have delays and delays and delays
and setbacks after setbacks affected space programs, private or government, in the last 40 years.
plenty of times, huh!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/19/2012 08:18 PM
{snip}
Certainly Obama does not want NASA to land humans on the moon this decade nor the next.
Cynical and skeptical of his space plans I am now.

In just over 4 years President Obama will be gone.  After that his views on space do not matter.  NASA cannot send a man to the Moon during his reign so his views on destinations are only of secondary importance.

During the next 4 years NASA and contractors can work on developing man-rated launch vehicles and LEO spacecraft.  Money and authorisation for this is being provided.  NASA could probably land a small unmanned probe on the Moon.

BLEO manned flights will have to wait for a future President, although some of the technology may be demonstrated sooner.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/19/2012 09:16 PM
We still have not discarded the possibility that this venture merely aims to provide a commercial solution to a desirement by NASA to explore beyond low earth orbit.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/19/2012 09:43 PM
We still have not discarded the possibility that this venture merely aims to provide a commercial solution to a desirement by NASA to explore beyond low earth orbit.

Why limit them selve to just NASA?
Better to have more than one possible customer and or other business plan.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/19/2012 09:53 PM
Remember folks, this is hopefully big and more sites other than us and NASAWatch are going to be digging (no pun intended) into this. You can question my accuracy on this site, as it's my site (I'll probably give you a slap though ;)), but if you want to question other sites, do it on their site.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/19/2012 10:04 PM
We still have not discarded the possibility that this venture merely aims to provide a commercial solution to a desirement by NASA to explore beyond low earth orbit.

Why limit them selve to just NASA?
Better to have more than one possible customer and or other business plan.

I am limiting my speculation to NASA as the customer because:

a) there is no other plausible customer; and

b) Occam's Razor indicates that it is NASA.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/19/2012 10:21 PM
The rumors about Golden Spike sound similar to a recent editorial by Chris Kraft:

"We are wasting billions of dollars per year on SLS. There are cheaper and nearer term approaches for human space exploration that use existing launch vehicles. A multicenter NASA team has completed a study on how we can return humans to the surface of the moon in the next decade with existing launch vehicles and within the existing budget."

http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Space-Launch-System-is-a-threat-to-JSC-Texas-jobs-3498836.php
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/20/2012 12:52 AM
We still have not discarded the possibility that this venture merely aims to provide a commercial solution to a desirement by NASA to explore beyond low earth orbit.

But what's the positive evidence for that. So far, the companies that have been mentioned haven't been traditional NASA partners. Yes, SpaceX has been mentioned, but only as a supplier of launch services. They will not be the operator.

Meanwhile, the official NASA policy is to blow off the Moon right? We're going for an asteroid because no one else has been there. It's going to be a new "first". So there is no official desirement (what's the difference between a "desire" and a "desirement" anyways"?) to go to the Moon.

What's happening is a lot of rich people have always wanted to go to the Moon ever since they watched Neil Armstrong do it 50 years ago--now they're getting older, and they realize that if they want to set foot on another world, they are going to have to do it themselves. The Mars First! argument is starting to wear very thin....

 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/20/2012 12:57 AM
The rumors about Golden Spike sound similar to a recent editorial by Chris Kraft:

"We are wasting billions of dollars per year on SLS. There are cheaper and nearer term approaches for human space exploration that use existing launch vehicles. A multicenter NASA team has completed a study on how we can return humans to the surface of the moon in the next decade with existing launch vehicles and within the existing budget."

http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Space-Launch-System-is-a-threat-to-JSC-Texas-jobs-3498836.php

heh heh ;D Yeah, it's not going to be the best PR for NASA as an organization if a purely commercial operation that takes no $$$ from NASA gets there first...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/20/2012 03:46 AM
it's not going to be the best PR for NASA as an organization if a purely commercial operation that takes no $$$ from NASA gets there first...

My guess is that this is going to initially be purely non-commercial.
As a manned Chinese lunar landing date approaches, and the geopolitical impact become more pronounced, the current empty-space-first strategy is going to feel even more vacuous.  Their business model will be exactly the same as Bigelow and ISS COTS participants.  Our tax dollars will be what will be keeping them in the black.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 11/20/2012 11:13 AM
it's not going to be the best PR for NASA as an organization if a purely commercial operation that takes no $$$ from NASA gets there first...

My guess is that this is going to initially be purely non-commercial.
As a manned Chinese lunar landing date approaches, and the geopolitical impact become more pronounced, the current empty-space-first strategy is going to feel even more vacuous.  Their business model will be exactly the same as Bigelow and ISS COTS participants.  Our tax dollars will be what will be keeping them in the black.

I suspect that what we will see is a situation where many capabilities whose development NASA either supported or partially funded (such as commercial crew and inflatable habs) will be used.  Personally, I doubt that purely commercial funding could support more than two crewed missions (a pathfinder to EML and a single landing).

However, as Warren points out, even if the pathfinder mission alone goes ahead, it would be a terrible embarrassment for NASA because it would foster the completely inaccurate perception that NASA has been 'beaten to the Moon' by 'hobby rocketeers'.  In practice, if it were not for NASA support, it would never have happened but it would be difficult to explain this to the politicians and I suspect there would be a considerable shake-up in NASA as a result.

To me, the optimum solution for NASA would be to provide as much support (mostly in terms of technical support and information) as can be done without turning it into a NASA project.  Then, if things are going well, have a proposal ready to utilise the 'rail-road' for NASA's own purposes.  "We knew about this and helped make it happen because we knew we could use it and would happen anyway eventually" is a good argument and can currently be applied to commercial crew.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 11/20/2012 11:25 AM
As a manned Chinese lunar landing date approaches.

Have I missed something? Have the Chinese officially announced that they were going for a manned lunar landing while I wasn't looking? Along with a date?

If not, then your argument doesn't hold much value IMO.

At any rate, even if they decide to ultimately do it, there is no way a Chinese lunar landing could happen before 2025. And I doubt private US industry is particularly concerned about a Red Chinese Flag on the Moon, even if it happens. So the motivation behind this rumored initiative is certainly something else (and many people here can't quite see the rationale and business case yet, but that is another matter).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/20/2012 02:42 PM
There is no way that a commercial entity today could obtain funding from NASA to develop a lunar landing capability, based on the potential of a Chinese lunar landing someday. The government is simply not that forwarding-thinking.

It is possible that in the context of an actual Chinese lunar landing capability, the government might be motivated to do "something", but that would be many years from now. The Chinese are currently hard pressed to launch people into orbit more than once a year.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/20/2012 03:59 PM
Have the Chinese officially announced that they were going for a manned lunar landing while I wasn't looking? Along with a date?

Yes and no.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/20/2012 04:08 PM
As a manned Chinese lunar landing date approaches.

Have I missed something? Have the Chinese officially announced that they were going for a manned lunar landing while I wasn't looking? Along with a date?

What John said.

Quote
At any rate, even if they decide to ultimately do it, there is no way a Chinese lunar landing could happen before 2025.

You could be in for a strategic surprise. China is on course to beat all GLXP participants to the surface of the Moon with a robotic probe.

Quote
And I doubt private US industry is particularly concerned about a Red Chinese Flag on the Moon, even if it happens. So the motivation behind this rumored initiative is certainly something else.

Why wouldn't they be concerned? The fact is, we can hem and haw all we want about what the OST says, but in the end, the future Lunar legal regime will be decided by whoever gets up there with the firstest and the mostest.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 11/20/2012 05:53 PM
Have the Chinese officially announced that they were going for a manned lunar landing while I wasn't looking? Along with a date?

Yes and no.

So I missed it? Can you provide a link where a Chinese government official makes the announcement that they intend to land a man on the moon? So far I've only seen internet speculation...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/20/2012 05:58 PM
Google is your friend...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/20/2012 06:05 PM
Google is your friend...
Was it advocated or announced by either Hu or Xi? If not, it means very little. There are countless US "officials" who talk about plans to go to Mars or the Moon the asteroids, etc.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/20/2012 06:19 PM
Before people go waking up Chris Bergin, let's steer this thing back to the topic at hand.

The question is whether a possible (most likely secondary) motive is the desire to beat the Chinese back to the Moon. The idea being that if NASA cannot/will not do it, they had better do it themselves for the sake of God and Country.

The answer is: who knows? We would have to ask Diamandis whether that keeps him up at night. I'm guessing probably not.

Really, the motivation is spelled out in Peter's Laws:

http://www.diamandis.com/peters-laws/

The answer is he wants to go to the Moon, and he realizes the only way that's going to happen is if he makes it happen himself, by hook or by crook.

Of course to do that sustainably, some money is going to have to be made somewhere along the line sooner or later. In that regard, it would be better to have the option of having the liberty to make the rules yourself. To do that, it would would be better to get to the Moon yourself first. That way, you're not having to ask the Chinese or anyone else for permission or forgiveness for anything.

All I can do is point out the obvious: that getting there first will carry with it certain advantages. Whether this thought actually takes up any brain cells in the people behind the rumored initiative isn't worth debating.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/20/2012 07:57 PM
Yes, I agree with you that the probable motivation is the desire to get there sooner rather than later. If the investors can break even or make a little money as well that is icing on the cake.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 11/20/2012 08:17 PM
In my opinion the Chinese have little to do with the motivation for a private moon landing, especially as at least some of the finance is "foreign".

The quicker they can get to the moon the less money it will cost. The quicker they can get to the moon the sooner they will start getting revenue (from whatever sources their business plan indicates). Eight years should be enough to develop a lander.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ChefPat on 11/20/2012 08:43 PM
China has no timetable for manned moon landing: chief scientist (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/sci/2012-09/19/c_131861211.htm)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/20/2012 10:05 PM
Before people go waking up Chris Bergin, let's steer this thing back to the topic at hand.

The question is whether a possible (most likely secondary) motive is the desire to beat the Chinese back to the Moon. The idea being that if NASA cannot/will not do it, they had better do it themselves for the sake of God and Country.

The answer is: who knows? We would have to ask Diamandis whether that keeps him up at night. I'm guessing probably not.

I missed the revelation that Peter Diamondis was connected to this Golden Spike venture. That would put him into two distinct entities allegedly funded by billionaires that are going to develop parts of the solar system. Wow!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/21/2012 03:01 PM
And what exactly do you think was the motivation for NASA to wake up from it's slumber, a decade ago, and announce "Moon, Mars, and Beyond?"  It was the realization that China, despite it's modest claims, was headed to the Moon.

And for those who have not happened to notice, China is very much into PLANNING.  It is something that they do very well.  Much better than NASA.  What has been happening to their economy has not been an accident.  So you can bet that they have a detailed plan for their manned landing, and that they are not showing their cards because they really don't want someone else to pop in before them and steal their thunder.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/dec/30/china-manned-moon-mission-lunar

Nearly 40 years after the cold grey soil of the moon was last disturbed by bounding humans, the lunar surface has become an official destination once more.

Tentative plans to land a man on the moon have been outlined in a document published by the Chinese government that confirms the nation's intention to become a major spacefaring nation. Officials in China have spoken before of their hopes for a crewed lunar mission, but the government document is the first to state the aim as a formal goal for the nation's space agency.

Details of the plan – which would see a human walk on the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in December 1972 – were published in a white paper that serves as a roadmap for the next five years of Chinese space exploration.

It says China will "push forward human spaceflight projects and make new technological breakthroughs, creating a foundation for future human spaceflight", and describes preparations for orbiting laboratories, space stations and studies that underpin "the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing".
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/21/2012 04:50 PM
Note also in the link provided by Chefpat, they say they need to accomplish several steps before then can send a crewed lander, but that these steps will  be completed by 2017.
_____________________________
In other news, there has been some postings on the internet that Golden Spike is a foreign company. This is not true, as far as I can tell: although a "Statement of Foreign Entity Authority" was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State, Colorado defines "Foreign Entity" as "an entity that has been formed outside of Colorado."  (http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/business/helpFiles/AUTHORITY_HELP.html)In this case, Golden Spike was originally incorporated in Delaware, and thus counts as a foreign entity for the purposes of Colorado law, but it was not formed outside of the United States. Although there are rumors of foreign money involved, I can't confirm anything on that just by surfing the internet as of now.

Attached is a pdf of the screen I got from the Delaware Secretary of State. More info is available for 10 or 20 USD, but probably nothing very interesting.

What is interesting to me is the incorporation date: 11/03/2010, that is just about 8 business days after the LCROSS results were published in Science on 10/22/2010, which leads me to believe that LCROSS may have in fact had something to do with the motivation for starting Golden Spike.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/21/2012 05:42 PM
And what exactly do you think was the motivation for NASA to wake up from it's slumber, a decade ago, and announce "Moon, Mars, and Beyond?"  It was the realization that China, despite it's modest claims, was headed to the Moon.
...
Colombia, you insensitive clod.

EDIT:(That is a reference to Calvin and Hobbes.)
http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/ch/1986/ch860214.gif
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/21/2012 06:03 PM
And what exactly do you think was the motivation for NASA to wake up from it's slumber, a decade ago, and announce "Moon, Mars, and Beyond?"  It was the realization that China, despite it's modest claims, was headed to the Moon.
In my opinion it was the impending end of the shuttle and a large workforce that would suddenly have nothing to do. Money was about to be diverted to actual utilization of the ISS (shock! horror!)  :P

Instead we suddenly noticed how expensive the ISS was and how little it had achieved, and decided we needed to build a really big shuttle derived rocket for um.. something.  ::)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Jim Davis on 11/21/2012 07:37 PM
And for those who have not happened to notice, China is very much into PLANNING.  It is something that they do very well. 

Yes, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were textbook examples of careful and meticulous planning.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/21/2012 08:50 PM
In other news, there has been some postings on the internet that Golden Spike is a foreign company. This is not true, as far as I can tell: although a "Statement of Foreign Entity Authority" was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State, Colorado defines "Foreign Entity" as "an entity that has been formed outside of Colorado."  (http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/business/helpFiles/AUTHORITY_HELP.html)In this case, Golden Spike was originally incorporated in Delaware, and thus counts as a foreign entity for the purposes of Colorado law, but it was not formed outside of the United States. Although there are rumors of foreign money involved, I can't confirm anything on that just by surfing the internet as of now.

Attached is a pdf of the screen I got from the Delaware Secretary of State. More info is available for 10 or 20 USD, but probably nothing very interesting.

What is interesting to me is the incorporation date: 11/03/2010, that is just about 8 business days after the LCROSS results were published in Science on 10/22/2010, which leads me to believe that LCROSS may have in fact had something to do with the motivation for starting Golden Spike.

You have presented us with information about Golden Spike Inc, a Delaware company. How does this relate to the Colorado "Golden Spike" company?  Why would Golden Spike incorporate in Delaware and then do business in Colorado?

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: corrodedNut on 11/21/2012 08:56 PM

You have presented us with information about Golden Spike Inc, a Delaware company. How does this relate to the Colorado "Golden Spike" company?  Why would Golden Spike incorporate in Delaware and then do business in Colorado?



Everybody does that. Its a tax shelter. SpaceX is incorporated in Delaware.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/21/2012 09:35 PM
There has been some speculation that the nasawatch tweets are inacurate, particularly WRT names involved. But if it's the case that Golden Spike Company is involved, then at least S. Alan Stern (not the Ubigwi guy) is involved, since his name is on the Golden Spike documents.

As for the possible business plan: "Golden Spike Company" could be a double entendre: there is the obvious reference to the transcontinental railroad--and there was a "Golden Spike Company" that was mining gold in the Sugarloaf Mining District just a very few miles to the northwest of Boulder Colorado in Boulder County.

Note also, as I've pointed out before, that Stern was the Principle Investigator (PI) of the LAMP instrument on LRO that detected the anomalous gold signature within the LCROSS impact plume (and a coauthor of the paper that reported those results). Stern can also be quite the out of the box thinker when he wants to be: e.g., check out his "History of the Lunar Atmosphere"

The third document changes the address for Golden Spike from Dr. Stern's residence to the address for Taffet Law P.C. (http://taffetlaw.com) and "Miller & Harrison Attorneys at Law‎ " although this doesn't prove that either are connected.

People who know Dr. Stern don't use his first initial.  It is generally "Alan".

Despite an earlier statement in this thread, Dr. Stern was not an employee of Blue Origins.  They may be among the clients for whom he has consulted, but they were never his employer.

Another of his recent ventures is Uwingu. (http://betaclone.uwingu.com)  On the Blog tab you can see Dr Stern's photo taken in front of the Atlas V 551 for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, for which he is the Principal Investigator.

While true coincidences are rare, there is a simple connection between the location of the original "Golden Spike" in Promatory, UT and the ATK facilities for developing solid rockets:  It is pretty much away from anything, but not so remote as to make access difficult.  I wouldn't assuume any connection to ATK from the name, but I wouldn't dismiss the name as insignificant. 

It is very hard to imagine NASA paying for a ride to the moon, or funding the effort to get another US flag and footprint track on the Moon.  It is even harder to imagine getting $nB funding based on getting paid back by NASA.  Think of the poltical risk.

I am really looking forward to hearing more details.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/21/2012 10:20 PM
There has been some speculation that the nasawatch tweets are inacurate, particularly WRT names involved. But if it's the case that Golden Spike Company is involved, then at least S. Alan Stern (not the Ubigwi [Uwingo] guy) is involved, since his name is on the Golden Spike documents.

As for the possible business plan: "Golden Spike Company" could be a double entendre: there is the obvious reference to the transcontinental railroad--and there was a "Golden Spike Company" that was mining gold in the Sugarloaf Mining District just a very few miles to the northwest of Boulder Colorado in Boulder County.

Note also, as I've pointed out before, that Stern was the Principle Investigator (PI) of the LAMP instrument on LRO that detected the anomalous gold signature within the LCROSS impact plume (and a coauthor of the paper that reported those results). Stern can also be quite the out of the box thinker when he wants to be: e.g., check out his "History of the Lunar Atmosphere"

The third document changes the address for Golden Spike from Dr. Stern's residence to the address for Taffet Law P.C. (http://taffetlaw.com) and "Miller & Harrison Attorneys at Law‎ " although this doesn't prove that either are connected.

It's also the address of a wedding dress store. (http://www.lessformalbride.com/) Perhaps the business plan is catering weddings on the Moon....

Quote from: Comga
People who know Dr. Stern don't use his first initial.  It is generally "Alan".

Dr. Stern uses his first initial for scientific publications: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6003/472.abstract
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/21/2012 11:06 PM
Different Alan Stern: see attached pictures.

SAME:  The one and only Dr. (S) Alan Stern.  :-)
(Pity a poor guy with the same name.  "No. I am not THAT Alan Stern.")
New Horizons PI, Alice PI, Ralph PI, LAMP PI, SwUIS-A PI, SwRI VP, NASA AA SMD, astronomer (even from the back seat of an F-18), author, leader, multi-engine rated flight instructor, Uwingu principal, Golden Spike principal,...

One guy, all these roles.  He does get around.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/22/2012 12:17 AM
And for those who have not happened to notice, China is very much into PLANNING.  It is something that they do very well. 

Yes, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were textbook examples of careful and meticulous planning.

Last I heard, Mr Davis, Mao is no longer running the show,  their economy has been growing at double digit rates, while ours have been receeding.

And while you are at it, ever wonder what is the real reason why Armstrong chose the words: "A great leap for mankind."   Shortly afterwards, China switched allegiances from the USSR to the USA.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/22/2012 12:53 AM
Pretty off topic here anyway. There is a thread specifically on the topic here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30360

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Jim Davis on 11/22/2012 02:38 AM
...Mao is no longer running the show...

Putting Mao in charge was yet another example of Chinese prowess at planning.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/22/2012 03:34 AM
Nobody is going to invest private capital in a scheme to land people on the Moon because the Chinese may someday land people on the Moon.

The logic  behind this idea is that the US government may someday have an urgent requirement to land people on the Moon, and this private venture may be so far advanced that NASA would find it reasonable to simply tag along.

No investor is going to put any serious money in such a scheme along the lines above. The investment must stand or fall on the most likely outcomes, not a wish upon a wish.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/22/2012 09:36 AM
@ Comga: I guess you're right--I stand corrected :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hdmkYtekT4&feature=results_video
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Diagoras on 11/22/2012 09:58 AM
And for those who have not happened to notice, China is very much into PLANNING.  It is something that they do very well. 

Yes, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were textbook examples of careful and meticulous planning.

Thank you. It's good to see someone shooting down the ridiculous Fu Manchu stereotype that pops up every now and then of some special affinity for long-term planning that is apparently innate to the Chinese. Just talk to someone who lived through the Great Leap Forward, or is being told to build an empty city to please some local party bigwig to get a good perspective on that.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/22/2012 02:05 PM
Ok folks, back on topic please.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/22/2012 02:32 PM
Ok folks, back on topic please.

Actually, I was enjoying all these depictions of Mao still blindly running China and them still living in the stone age.  If only it were true...
If only Apple could build the iPhone 5 here in the USA.

But yes, we digress.

What new leads do we have?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: scoops12 on 11/22/2012 02:47 PM
Could I just interrupt all the myriad strands of this thread to say two things?

(1) Private moon landing. WHAHOOOOO!
(2) For the business case, please consult one D. D. Harriman.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/22/2012 04:00 PM
:(That is a reference to Calvin and Hobbes.)

Two points for Gryffindor.

...Mao is no longer running the show...

Putting Mao in charge was yet another example of Chinese prowess at planning.

You're totally confused about cause and effect.  Mao took charge.

Unless I'm totally mistaken, the Chinese have the, surprising by some tellings, capability to learn from their mistakes.  But I digress.

So, in keeping with the C&H motif, who's calling the shots anyhow?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Jim Davis on 11/22/2012 05:06 PM
You're totally confused about cause and effect.  Mao took charge.

You're not suggesting that the Chinese didn't plan for such a contingency , are you?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/22/2012 05:09 PM
The C&H strip so apply represents the normal relationship between NASA and contractors with the "worms" being NASA requirements. A pure commercial venture can choose the NASA "worms" they must eat in order to sell seats to NASA ignoring most of the "worms" that do not impact human safety. They can use the Human Rating requirements being required by NASA on CCP as a guide as to what they would have to meet in order to sell seats to NASA. But they could always write their own requirements and put it to NASA to accept them as well.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/22/2012 05:22 PM
Nobody is going to invest private capital in a scheme to land people on the Moon because the Chinese may someday land people on the Moon.
If I were a very large mining company (or conglomerate of mining interests) and I believed that there was an economically highly attractive deposit on the moon (either because I believed in near-term reusable rockets or otherwise), then I might in fact be willing to attempt claiming and mining the deposits, using a small portion of my exploration budget toward a well-defined plan and timeframe.  If I thought that the chance existed for a competitor (China) to get there first, then my motivation to fund development appropriately would be stronger, especially if losing the race held the potential to collapse the value of my current assets and operations. 
There is both a carrot and a stick for the private capital. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/22/2012 05:40 PM
Nobody is going to invest private capital in a scheme to land people on the Moon because the Chinese may someday land people on the Moon.
If I were a very large mining company (or conglomerate of mining interests) and I believed that there was an economically highly attractive deposit on the moon (either because I believed in near-term reusable rockets or otherwise), then I might in fact be willing to attempt claiming and mining the deposits, using a small portion of my exploration budget toward a well-defined plan and timeframe.  If I thought that the chance existed for a competitor (China) to get there first, then my motivation to fund development appropriately would be stronger, especially if losing the race held the potential to collapse the value of my current assets and operations. 
There is both a carrot and a stick for the private capital. 

Atlas V + Morpheus lander + RESOLVE prospector rover
We could probably use that lot to examine part of the lunar surface for $200M to $300M.  Any examples of mining companies spending $300 million on wildcatting?

edit:spelling
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/22/2012 05:56 PM
Nobody is going to invest private capital in a scheme to land people on the Moon because the Chinese may someday land people on the Moon.
If I were a very large mining company (or conglomerate of mining interests) and I believed that there was an economically highly attractive deposit on the moon (either because I believed in near-term reusable rockets or otherwise), then I might in fact be willing to attempt claiming and mining the deposits, using a small portion of my exploration budget toward a well-defined plan and timeframe.  If I thought that the chance existed for a competitor (China) to get there first, then my motivation to fund development appropriately would be stronger, especially if losing the race held the potential to collapse the value of my current assets and operations. 
There is both a carrot and a stick for the private capital. 

I gather you have not calculated the cost per ton of moving metal from the surface of the Moon to Earth compared with the price per ton of that metal.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 11/22/2012 06:54 PM
I gather you have not calculated the cost per ton of moving metal from the surface of the Moon to Earth compared with the price per ton of that metal.

The biggest cost driver will be flying the linear accelerator out to the Moon and installing it on the surface.  After that, it will just be electricity generation.  Use aero-capture to drop the chunks into LEO and then have them recovered by LEO-only robot freighters (think of a recoverable Angry Alligator that can close its jaws).

Certainly easier typed than done but the lack of an atmosphere on the Moon can make shooting non g-sensitive masses to Earth a lot easier.  I'm pretty sure there are plenty of studies on this cargo transfer methodology.  The point is that the start-up costs are enormous but the lack of major environmental considerations will mean that, after the mine is working, it will quickly start to undercut mining on Earth's surface.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: guckyfan on 11/22/2012 07:11 PM
The biggest cost driver will be flying the linear accelerator out to the Moon and installing it on the surface.  After that, it will just be electricity generation.  Use aero-capture to drop the chunks into LEO and then have them recovered by LEO-only robot freighters (think of a recoverable Angry Alligator that can close its jaws).

Assuming that mining can be done for some precious metal and assuming that accelerator does work which are big assumptions.

Why would you have them brake into orbit? Give them a heatshield and let them drop into some desert.

Some kind of heatshield could be made from lunar material.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/heatshieldtestresults.html
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/22/2012 07:32 PM
You're totally confused about cause and effect.  Mao took charge.

You're not suggesting that the Chinese didn't plan for such a contingency , are you?

Huh?  All I'm saying is that Mao took charge.  He wasn't given it.  You can't be arguing that since he wasn't immediately assasinated by his countrymen, that he therefore enjoyed universal support.  But let's not digress too much, shall we?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/22/2012 07:34 PM
The C&H strip so apply represents the normal relationship between NASA and contractors with the "worms" being...

Excellent analogy which took me by surprise.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 11/22/2012 09:06 PM
Assuming that mining can be done for some precious metal and assuming that accelerator does work which are big assumptions.

Honestly, the assumption that economically interesting materials are on the lunar surface is by far the larger one. If they're there, and there is an economic case, someone will find an engineering solution.

But, the lunar surface itself is pretty uninteresting. There is absolutely nowhere that we know were it would be worth it to mine even if the cost to transport to Earth were zero. Mines don't just go to places were minerals exist, but where they are so concentrated that it is profitable to mine them. "Rare-Earth Elements" actually aren't all that rare, it's just the concentrated ores containing them are rare.

None of the processes that create ores on Earth ever worked on the Moon. In fact, the only real processes that ever happened on the Moon were impacts and flood lavas. Most of the Earth is covered in flood lavas (ocean basins), so nothing interesting there. And while natural impacts deliver material, they spread it over a massive area, defeating the point. The iron asteroid that made Meteor Crater spread itself over a huge area, and the largest surviving chunk is about a meter long.

Probably the best case for mining the Moon is to not actually mine the Moon. Rather, it would be find economically valuable asteroids and put them on trajectories that would impact the Moon at extremely slow velocities (<1 km/s; natural impacts are 20-70 km/s). Then you can process the mostly intact asteroid on the lunar surface and send the valuable stuff back to Earth via railgun or whatever.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/22/2012 09:13 PM
Let me try this:

If you guys really felt that there were a business case for mining the Moon, I would suggest discussing this in another thread with the purpose of starting your own business. I would love to see your investment documents for your potential funding. You know, those things with numbers that include IRR.

Since we don't know that Golden Spike plans to "mine the Moon", why don't we focus here instead on what data there is about the company.

And please let us not go over Chinese history again.


Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/22/2012 10:17 PM
Honestly, the assumption that economically interesting materials are on the lunar surface is by far the larger one. If they're there, and there is an economic case, someone will find an engineering solution.

Pretty much agree, with the additional observation that replicating an Apollo landing, or even building a four to six person base is also a problem awaiting only an engineering solution.

Quote
Probably the best case for mining the Moon is to not actually mine the Moon. Rather, it would be find economically valuable asteroids and put them on trajectories that would impact the Moon at extremely slow velocities ...

Hadn't really heard this suggestion before.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/22/2012 10:20 PM
This is a post that I made on this thread that has application to the discussion in this one.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30081.105 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30081.105)


Quote
Ok. Here is my quick price per mission estimate for a dual EDS storable propellant using vacuum optimized SuperDracos with one EDS used to refuel the lander and also used as a crasher stage so that the Lander only needs propellant for 2700m/s delta V (500 for terminal landing and 2200 for ascent) ~6mt propellant with a dry weight of 1.5mt. To do the deorbit burn the crasher stage will need ~15mt of propellant. A BEO DragonRider with a 2-2.5mt propulsion module in the trunk to do a TEI burn from LLO.

A regular paying mission involves two FH flights delivering two fully fueled EDS placed into LEO. This is followed by a F9 BEO DragonRider flight. To do the TLI and TOI to place the second EDS with 21mt of propellant and the 9mt of DragonRider +trunk+TEI ppropulsion module up to 78mt of propellant is used leaving total weight at LLO of 31mt(21mt propellant+9mt Dragon+1mt for EDS dry weight).

The development program would be as follows. An unmanned test flight of BEO DragonRider and the EDS involving 1 FH and the F9 BEO DragonRider – cost $275M. The placement of the reusable lander into LLO + a small Bigelow habitat- cost $1,000M. A manned demo flight to the surface – cost $440M.

The development of the habitat the BEO DragonRider and EDS are done by a provider and is not directly borne by the Lander operator but is paid off by purchases of DragonRider and EDS and the habitat. The Lander development + the test flights are amortized over 10 paying customer flights. The per flight amortized development charge per mission would be $170M.

This would make a per mission price to put 4 persons to LLO with 2 of those to the surface at $800M.

There is nothing exotic in the tech for this solution and uses existing, soon to exist, or extensible of those technologies being developed.



The reason I am referencing this is that for a private business case you need some realistic ballpark per mission price estimates. (Not cost because it must also include a profit.)


At $800M per mission price where the lander operator purchases transport to and from LLO from SpaceX for example and also a EDS that is used as tanker and crasher stage to enable the lander to reach and return from the surface it keeps them focused on the development of the primary item that will make the business work and that is the manned lander. The operator would pay SpaceX $440M per mission for the 2 EDS and crew transport to and return from LLO. They would also rent space in a Bigelow habitat at LLO. In all they could make in profit as much as $185M per mission (they are a reseller of the SpaceX transportation and they make a profit on that as well since without them SpaceX would not be doing as much cis-lunar flight business making the lander operator a mission integrator).

Note mission here is being used as a placeholder for a single from Earth to Lunar surface and back transportation service to deliver 4 people to LLO and 2 of those to the Lunar surface.

From all the discussions this still seems to be the lowest near term price (2020 timeframe) and technical solution. There are definitely other technical and price solutions out there but many take more technical development time and development money to accomplish.

Engineering truth about the best solution to a problem - KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: douglas100 on 11/22/2012 10:24 PM

Pretty much agree, with the additional observation that replicating an Apollo landing, or even building a four to six person base is also a problem awaiting only an engineering solution.

Also awaiting a funding solution.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/22/2012 10:32 PM
{snip}

At $800M per mission price where the lander operator purchases transport to and from LLO from SpaceX for example and also a EDS that is used as tanker and crasher stage to enable the lander to reach and return from the surface it keeps them focused on the development of the primary item that will make the business work and that is the manned lander. The operator would pay SpaceX $440M per mission for the 2 EDS and crew transport to and return from LLO. They would also rent space in a Bigelow habitat at LLO. In all they could make in profit as much as $185M per mission (they are a reseller of the SpaceX transportation and they make a profit on that as well since without them SpaceX would not be doing as much cis-lunar flight business making the lander operator a mission integrator).

Note mission here is being used as a placeholder for a single from Earth to Lunar surface and back transportation service to deliver 4 people to LLO and 2 of those to the Lunar surface.
{snip}

If the lunar base is at one of the poles then the LLO spacestation will have to be in a polar orbit.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/22/2012 10:42 PM

Pretty much agree, with the additional observation that replicating an Apollo landing, or even building a four to six person base is also a problem awaiting only an engineering solution.

Also awaiting a funding solution.

Good point.  I totally missed that one.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 11/22/2012 10:49 PM
I'm dubious of a LLO station. The moon has a very lumpy gravity field, so you can't orbit too close without needing lots of station-keeping delta v. Likewise, if you raise the orbit high enough that the lunar gravity field is smooth, you get so far that perturbations from the Earth (and Sun) again add lots of station-keeping delta v. L1 and L2 also need station-keeping, but much lower amounts of delta v. Halo orbits around L4 and L5 (or circulating between them) are the only naturally stable orbits that are close to the Moon in delta v space.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 11/22/2012 10:52 PM
Probably the best case for mining the Moon is to not actually mine the Moon. Rather, it would be find economically valuable asteroids and put them on trajectories that would impact the Moon at extremely slow velocities ...

Hadn't really heard this suggestion before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Zero_Two

There are probably other sci fi stories that use it, but this (specifically the MST3k version) is what springs mind... ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/22/2012 10:53 PM
{snip}

At $800M per mission price where the lander operator purchases transport to and from LLO from SpaceX for example and also a EDS that is used as tanker and crasher stage to enable the lander to reach and return from the surface it keeps them focused on the development of the primary item that will make the business work and that is the manned lander. The operator would pay SpaceX $440M per mission for the 2 EDS and crew transport to and return from LLO. They would also rent space in a Bigelow habitat at LLO. In all they could make in profit as much as $185M per mission (they are a reseller of the SpaceX transportation and they make a profit on that as well since without them SpaceX would not be doing as much cis-lunar flight business making the lander operator a mission integrator).

Note mission here is being used as a placeholder for a single from Earth to Lunar surface and back transportation service to deliver 4 people to LLO and 2 of those to the Lunar surface.
{snip}

If the lunar base is at one of the poles then the LLO spacestation will have to be in a polar orbit.

Yes, which is one of the tradeoffs due tousing hypergolic propelants. Use of higher energy (higher ISP) propelants would allow for the use of EML1/2 for approcimately the same incremental per mission costs but would have a much higher development costs due to the need of cryo depot technologies. Higher development will cause the price to go up since development costs must be recovered in a private business case.

So for the first venture without an established EML1/2 station and no fielded cryo depots using a lunar polar LLO only reachable practically one every 28 days with a at most 1 week stay time before you have to return or there is a requirement for more delt V than what is capable with the on-board propelant. Aditional margins for TEI so that first going into a high lunar orbit allowing for a plane change to then head back to Earth maybe a solution but that adds weight.

There are advantages and disadvantages in every solution and the ability to reach the lunar poles is the greatest disadvantage of using LLO as the redevous point for the Earth and Lunar transportation segments.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/22/2012 11:24 PM
Station or depot in LLO?

A depot would be of lower dry mass and use less propellent to keep it's needed orbit.

If it stores hypergolics then it could be possible for the Orion to add propellent for the return home.

Depot to store hypergolics for Orion. For incoming cargo from Earth to be placed on the Lunar surface by a reusable lander. Cargo is brought to LLO depot from LEO, EDS for TLI and a stage ( modified Lunar lander, shorter tanks and no landing gear ) to take the cargo to LLO depot. Stage once delivers the cargo to depot then disposes it's self to space. Cargo is then picked up by reusable lander from Lunar surface.

Depot could be a modified ESA ATV ( no pressurized crew area, propulsion unit and docking port or other means for propellent transfer ) with robotic arm(s) and boom to store cargo till it is picked up.

EML1/2 gateway could be in place before or after.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/23/2012 12:04 AM
Reusable cargo landers.  The financial viability of these needs checking.  With ISRU propellant they should work.  With fuel coming from Earth the accountants will have to do some detailed sums.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/23/2012 01:03 AM
Gentlemen:

This thread is NOT about the optimal architecture for a lunar base, or where to put your propellant depot. It is about a potential actual company that may or may not be planning some sort of lunar mission.

Please keep your comments to the data about this company, not your plans to mine the Moon.

For example, if one of the principals at "Golden Spike" has written a paper about some aspects of lunar mining, please dig it up and give us the reference.

As always, your ideas about lunar business can go in the appropriate thread, just not this one.  In the interim, please try not to expound HERE on your plans, rather, please inform us what you know about their plans.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/23/2012 04:46 AM
This summarizes the thread nicely for me.. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj-qBUWOYfE
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/23/2012 06:04 AM
The question is whether a possible (most likely secondary) motive is the desire to beat the Chinese back to the Moon. The idea being that if NASA cannot/will not do it, they had better do it themselves for the sake of God and Country.

The answer is: who knows? We would have to ask Diamandis whether that keeps him up at night. I'm guessing probably not.

Really, the motivation is spelled out in Peter's Laws:

http://www.diamandis.com/peters-laws/

The answer is he wants to go to the Moon, and he realizes the only way that's going to happen is if he makes it happen himself, by hook or by crook.

Of course to do that sustainably, some money is going to have to be made somewhere along the line sooner or later. In that regard, it would be better to have the option of having the liberty to make the rules yourself. To do that, it would would be better to get to the Moon yourself first. That way, you're not having to ask the Chinese or anyone else for permission or forgiveness for anything.

All I can do is point out the obvious: that getting there first will carry with it certain advantages. Whether this thought actually takes up any brain cells in the people behind the rumored initiative isn't worth debating.

My educated guess is that the same can be said for Alan Stern.  He would encourage the Chinese to land Taikonauts on the moon, but he knows he won't be one of them.  Watch the video posted by Warren a few pages back. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hdmkYtekT4&feature=results_video

Stern wants to find reasons that people will send him into space for them.  How do you think he got those three "tickets to space" on SpaceShip Two? (He says he gave the third to Dan Durda, but he actually has others on SS2 and XCor's vehicle.)  If it is to bring back first had stories, getting the data for a refereed paper of interest to an agency, or bringing back precious minerals, the real goal is the flight.  The remainder is an honest attempt to enhance the value of the flight to others so that they enable it. 

I will make an attempt to ask him directly.  Wish me luck.  He can be very cagey and disciplined when the date for announcing things has not yet arrived.

edited to add link to post by Warren Platts
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: baldusi on 11/23/2012 01:45 PM
So for the first venture without an established EML1/2 station and no fielded cryo depots using a lunar polar LLO only reachable practically one every 28 days with a at most 1 week stay time before you have to return or there is a requirement for more delt V than what is capable with the on-board propelant. Aditional margins for TEI so that first going into a high lunar orbit allowing for a plane change to then head back to Earth maybe a solution but that adds weight.
My orbital mechanics are primitive, but wouldn't that be each 14 days? Moon is almost escape and you don't really care if you go to a southern or northern insertion point from the Earth. Thus, you could go as long as the station's plane align with your entry vector to the Moon's gravity well. That means you enter once per the North Pole and, 14 days later, per the South Pole to reach the same orbit.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/23/2012 04:30 PM
Shadi: What are your hopes for the future in terms of where you want us to be in 10-20 years with respect to space explorations?
 
Dr. Stern: In 10 to 20 years, I hope to see three things. I hope that in 10-20 years time, we are on the hills of human return to the moon, so that we could then go on with humans to explore the solar system. I think this is our destiny. Second: I hope that in 10-20 years time space travel will become common place for the interested individual, the same way traveling to Antarctica or the top of Everest is possible for the interested individual today. I think that this is the beginning of a great transformation for space exploration in this millennium for our species. And finally, I hope we will have much more vigorous robotic explorations of the planets, particularly the places where humans can not go yet, to really understand our home the same way a baby does when it leaves its cradle. We are just emerging from that cradle, the cradle of the Earth as a species. These are my wishes and hopes.

http://www.biotrends.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=153:dr-shadis-interview-with-dr-alan-stern&catid=37:most-recent
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/23/2012 05:50 PM
Good find.

I should note that the publication date is today. It doesn't sound like Dr. Stern is expecting a commercial crewed lunar landing before Orion is "ready".   He is talking about a ten to twenty year time frame before a crewed lunar landing would be imminent.

Something is wrong with the data we have been given, or else I am not understanding his quote.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/23/2012 06:13 PM
Good find.

I should note that the publication date is today.


Conversation with Dr. Alan Stern - Monday, 25 July 2011 20:45

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/23/2012 06:14 PM
Nobody is going to invest private capital in a scheme to land people on the Moon because the Chinese may someday land people on the Moon.
If I were a very large mining company (or conglomerate of mining interests) and I believed that there was an economically highly attractive deposit on the moon (either because I believed in near-term reusable rockets or otherwise), then I might in fact be willing to attempt claiming and mining the deposits, using a small portion of my exploration budget toward a well-defined plan and timeframe.  If I thought that the chance existed for a competitor (China) to get there first, then my motivation to fund development appropriately would be stronger, especially if losing the race held the potential to collapse the value of my current assets and operations. 
There is both a carrot and a stick for the private capital. 

I gather you have not calculated the cost per ton of moving metal from the surface of the Moon to Earth compared with the price per ton of that metal.

In round, order of magnitude figures, if the overhead cost was $1B/year and the development and deployment costs were $10B, and production was 100 mT and could be sold for $50K/kg, then the original investment would be paid back after 2.5 years, and they would be making $4B/year in profits after that. Cost of production would be $10K/kg.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/23/2012 06:53 PM
Given that Alan Stern is likely involved, could golden spike or whatever this commercial system is simply be an early UWingu project?

That might make some sense.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: edkyle99 on 11/23/2012 07:04 PM
This may not be "it".  Or it may, but probably not.
http://www.melodika.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=487413&Itemid=54

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/23/2012 08:17 PM
Given that Alan Stern is likely involved, could golden spike or whatever this commercial system is simply be an early UWingu project?

That might make some sense.

It doesn't make sense to me.

You can't pay for a moon landing program on the profits from 99 cent suggest-a-planet-name transactions.

My guess is Uwingu will fund some grad students, maybe a cubesat if they can get a free launch.  The scales are off by several orders of magnitude.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/23/2012 09:58 PM
23:00  "Bob, what about the Moon? "

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc93LWus-7k&feature=watch-vrec
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/23/2012 10:02 PM
Why would China want to lay claim to the moon? Bigelow referred to some of the long-discussed potential benefits, including the moon's abundance of helium-3, which could someday be used as fuel for nuclear fusion (although that idea has been oversold in the past). The moon's raw material could also be turned into the water, oxygen, building materials and rocket fuel needed for human exploration. But Bigelow said the biggest payoff would come in the form of international prestige, just as it did for the United States after the moon landings.

"This would endure for a very long time," he said. "It’s priceless. ... Nothing else that China could possibly do in the next 15 years could produce as great a benefit."

Bigelow speculated that China could conduct detailed surface-based surveys of the lunar surface in the mid-2020s, setting the stage for the country to withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and formally claim possession of the moon. China could then conceivably insist on being paid for lunar concessions, Bigelow said.


http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/10/19/8402070-will-china-take-over-the-moon?lite
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/23/2012 10:07 PM
Could the reason for the manned landing and outpost be to provide a stronger legal footing for fending off a Chinese claim to ownership of the Moon than unmanned operations would permit?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Jim on 11/23/2012 11:07 PM
Could the reason for the manned landing and outpost be to provide a stronger legal footing for fending off a Chinese claim to ownership of the Moon than unmanned operations would permit?

It has nothing to do with the Chinese.  Repeating over and over doesn't make it true.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nathan on 11/23/2012 11:14 PM
Given that Alan Stern is likely involved, could golden spike or whatever this commercial system is simply be an early UWingu project?

That might make some sense.

It doesn't make sense to me.

You can't pay for a moon landing program on the profits from 99 cent suggest-a-planet-name transactions.

My guess is Uwingu will fund some grad students, maybe a cubesat if they can get a free launch.  The scales are off by several orders of magnitude.
The name a planet thing isn't the objective of UWingu, rather they are looking at multiple projects.
I'm suggesting that they may simply do a small project like "design a way to get to the moon" or "help us fund the design stage" or something unimpressive like that.

The names tie in, Alan stern, doug Griffith.

I expect that we will be underwhelmed when we finally figure this out.



And can we all stop the talk about china. It's boring.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/24/2012 01:04 AM
It has nothing to do with the Chinese.  Repeating over and over doesn't make it true.

Do share with us your inside information that supports your claim, Jim...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Oberon_Command on 11/24/2012 01:07 AM
It has nothing to do with the Chinese.  Repeating over and over doesn't make it true.

Do share with us your inside information that supports your claim, Jim...

You're the one advancing the claim that this has anything to do with China. As far as I can tell, this puts the burden of proof on you.

What evidence do you have that this has anything to do with China?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: KelvinZero on 11/24/2012 01:23 AM
It has nothing to do with the Chinese.  Repeating over and over doesn't make it true.

Do share with us your inside information that supports your claim, Jim...

You're the one advancing the claim that this has anything to do with China. As far as I can tell, this puts the burden of proof on you.

What evidence do you have that this has anything to do with China?

But dont put your evidence here! Here is the right thread to discuss chinese interest in the moon.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30360.0

This is not the right thread for that subject.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/24/2012 01:37 AM

You're the one advancing the claim that this has anything to do with China. As far as I can tell, this puts the burden of proof on you.

What evidence do you have that this has anything to do with China?

You're the one advancing the claim that this has anything to do with China. As far as I can tell, this puts the burden of proof on you.

What evidence do you have that this has anything to do with China?

To rule something out requires evidence.  Do you have any?

If you watch the Bigelow video I posted, he is very alarmed about potential Chinese ownership of the Moon.  He is the only real game in town as far as inflatables, and has designs for manned lunar outposts.  So he is very probably a player in Golden Spike.

The China ownership issue could possibly be a major driving force, and is an interesting topic unto itself.  However, independent threads do not constitute justification for censorship.  This is the USA, not China.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 11/24/2012 02:04 AM
<snip>

If you watch the Bigelow video I posted, he is very alarmed about potential Chinese ownership of the Moon.  He is the only real game in town as far as inflatables, and has designs for manned lunar outposts.  So he is very probably a player in Golden Spike.

<snip>

My emphasis.  While it makes logical sense that Bigelow would be involved in this, and I do personally think they will be, we have no definitive proof.  And while I like Mr. Bigelow's style, there are many questions that need to be answered.

It does make sense to have Bigelow involved in Golden Spike... but to quote Lanny Davis:

Quote from: Lanny Davis
You have no poof!

VR
RE327
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 11/24/2012 05:51 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axE83zcx6wY
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/24/2012 01:05 PM
Re: Bigelow/China--odds are Bigelow is not involved, given the Paragon connection because they make their own inflatables in partnership with Thin Red Line Aerospace. They say their's is better than other inflatables--presumably, that's an indirect reference to Bigelow's modules.

http://www.paragonsdc.com/paragon_projects_09.php
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/24/2012 02:19 PM
Quote from: That Melodika site
The joint teaming arrangement is based on an innovative commercial partnership model that infuses high impact scientific missions with a commercial enterprise funding element. This dynamic partnership brings together the best characteristics of non-profit activities with commercial and entrepreneurial skill sets.

I didn't have my hip boots on, so I didn't read beyond this point.

So Ed:  Could you like, maybe summarize this article?

You can't pay for a moon landing program on the profits from 99 cent suggest-a-planet-name transactions.

Come on.  You don't really believe that, do you?  Of course you can.

Could the reason for the manned landing and outpost be to provide a stronger legal footing for fending off a Chinese claim to ownership of the Moon than unmanned operations would permit?

Personally, I wouldn't write it off as something that is being quietly considered.  When governments and companies don't discuss a issue, all the observer can conclude is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

You're the one advancing the claim that this has anything to do with China. As far as I can tell, this puts the burden of proof on you.

Technically, actually, and ecumenically, both sides of this question are carrying the burden of proof.

[Mr. Bigelow] is the only real game in town as far as inflatables, and has designs for manned lunar outposts.  So he is very probably very well might be a player in Golden Spike.

Fixed that for ya.

Quote from: Nelson
The China ownership issue could possibly be a major driving force, and is an interesting topic unto itself.  However, independent threads do not constitute justification for censorship.

True and true.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/24/2012 02:35 PM
Could the reason for the manned landing and outpost be to provide a stronger legal footing for fending off a Chinese claim to ownership of the Moon than unmanned operations would permit?
It could.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 11/24/2012 03:23 PM
Trying to make guesses as to the motivations of a group of investors/business organizers is rather pointless since we have no information as to who they are and their actual goals other than some technical hints as to the scope of what is being considered. Even if we did have their names and the company goals we would still be guessing at motivations based on past actions and statements of these individuals.

From the standpoint of consensus of the posters on the thread the two most "voted" on guesses to the motivation of this group is:

1) A group of billionaires have gotten tired of waiting on Congress and their agent NASA to get us back to the Moon.

2) Because China may beat the US back to the Moon the group is trying to accelerate US actions by private funding the missing pieces of the civil funding to accomplish getting back to the Moon. There are several sub-motivations expressed in this category a significant one is property rights.


My favorite guess is #1.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Garrett on 11/24/2012 03:25 PM
To rule something out requires evidence.  Do you have any?

NO! To rule in something requires evidence!

To rule something out requires a lack of evidence.

I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/24/2012 05:17 PM
1) A group of billionaires have gotten tired of waiting on Congress and their agent NASA to get us back to the Moon.

2) Because China may beat the US back to the Moon the group is trying to accelerate US actions by private funding the missing pieces of the civil funding to accomplish getting back to the Moon. There are several sub-motivations expressed in this category a significant one is property rights.

It could be:
3)  All of the above. 

I know there is an unprecedented number of billionaires around, 2/3rd of them "self-made" ish.  But in my experience, billionaires (to be clear I've known some but am not one) would be unlikely to put money into this unless they thought there was a chance of return on investment (whether in the form of $ (most likely), personal access to space travel, potentially market-making/enabling technology solutions, synergistic considerations w.r.t. their current sphere (e.g. Virgin Galactic), etc.)).  Though some participants in Golden Spike may consider it foremost as a hobby.

Despite my belief in the likelyhood of high concentrations of easily separable valuable metals in dark polar craters, I still see a joint public-private Project Azorianesque scenario of mutual benefit to the American government and private industry as a possibility; given the potential for long-term geopolitical complications arising from what effectively amounts to property rights ambiguity. 
Someone clever in government has probably already figured out how to tax it. 

There is already a lot of American discomfort relating to "rare earth elements" which China has already demonstrated they are willing to leverage for geopolitical clout (big news in Japan anyways).  Similarly, in this context it's important to remember that platinum-group metals are strategic high-tech metals.  Not just pretty baubles. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 11/24/2012 06:19 PM
1) A group of billionaires have gotten tired of waiting on Congress and their agent NASA to get us back to the Moon.

2) Because China may beat the US back to the Moon the group is trying to accelerate US actions by private funding the missing pieces of the civil funding to accomplish getting back to the Moon. There are several sub-motivations expressed in this category a significant one is property rights.

For completeness, where in that spectrum fits the notion that the group has specific intentions to kill SLS? That notion is more political/partisan than agnostic/profitable. imho The fewest moving parts, considering billionaire and millionaire density, orphan of Apollo phenomenon, and private capabilities making strides, is to let dinosaurs be dinosaurs, get on with it, we'll use the bfr when he wakes up, and in the meantime anchor tenancy is the game, and you pay to play. imho
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Khadgars on 11/24/2012 06:29 PM
Quote
There is already a lot of American discomfort relating to "rare earth elements" which China has already demonstrated they are willing to leverage for geopolitical clout (big news in Japan anyways).  Similarly, in this context it's important to remember that platinum-group metals are strategic high-tech metals.  Not just pretty baubles.
 

It is my understanding that the US has some of the worlds largest reserves of rare earth metals, but stopped mining them because China was to easily able to undercut the price.  If this did become a major issue it would be far easier and cheaper to restart these mines and build new ones.

Edit: Just my opinion but the notion of a private moon landing seems comical at this point.  Lets first see how commercial crew does in LEO for a couple years with successful flights year over year before we start worrying about the moon.  The idea of China reaching the moon in the next 10-15 years would mean a quantum leap from the pace they are at now and I don't see that happening.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/24/2012 06:59 PM
15+2013 = 2028. Already, China is on schedule to have sample return demonstrated by 2017....
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/24/2012 08:02 PM
It is my understanding that the US has some of the worlds largest reserves of rare earth metals, but stopped mining them because China was to easily able to undercut the price.  If this did become a major issue it would be far easier and cheaper to restart these mines and build new ones.
A red herring, but it's mostly a matter of heavies versus lights. 

wikipedia:  "All of the world's heavy rare earths (such as dysprosium) come from Chinese rare earth sources such as the polymetallic Bayan Obo deposit.[14][17] "

There are some other sources of heavies, but not as economically interesting, and generally there is a steep environmental toll with production and processing. 

But that's missing the point. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Khadgars on 11/25/2012 08:26 AM
It is my understanding that the US has some of the worlds largest reserves of rare earth metals, but stopped mining them because China was to easily able to undercut the price.  If this did become a major issue it would be far easier and cheaper to restart these mines and build new ones.
A red herring, but it's mostly a matter of heavies versus lights. 

wikipedia:  "All of the world's heavy rare earths (such as dysprosium) come from Chinese rare earth sources such as the polymetallic Bayan Obo deposit.[14][17] "

There are some other sources of heavies, but not as economically interesting, and generally there is a steep environmental toll with production and processing. 

But that's missing the point. 

That just means current production comes from China in heavies, but we have several massive sources of heavies in the States (Missouri, Nebraska) as well as Canada (Quebec) that are under development now.  Rare earths are is fact not very rare at all and are found all over the world.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: 93143 on 11/25/2012 08:55 AM
To rule something out requires evidence.  Do you have any?

NO! To rule in something requires evidence!

To rule something out requires a lack of evidence.

I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.

That's not how that works.

If neither reason nor extant evidence specifically supports a proposition, you can disregard it, since there's no cause to believe it to be true.  This is not the same as dismissing it; that is, declaring it to be false.  You don't get to declare something false without evidence that it is in fact false.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/25/2012 02:21 PM
I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.

Look harder.

But seriously...

To rule something out requires evidence.  Do you have any?

NO! To rule in something requires evidence!

To rule something out requires a lack of evidence.

I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.

That's not how that works.

If neither reason nor extant evidence specifically supports a proposition, you can disregard it, since there's no cause to believe it to be true.  This is not the same as dismissing it; that is, declaring it to be false.  You don't get to declare something false without evidence that it is in fact false.

Well put.  Look at the Propellantless thread as a nearby example.  The problem is that in such an "exotic" case, the math becomes impenetrable.  Understanding and presenting the theoretical evidence becomes a major challenge, especially when it comes time to implement the experimental hardware setup to prove the idea.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/25/2012 03:36 PM
the US has some of the worlds largest reserves of rare earth metals, but stopped mining them because China was to easily able to undercut the price.  If this did become a major issue it would be far easier and cheaper to restart these mines and build new ones.
A red herring, ...There are some other sources of heavies, but not as economically interesting, and generally there is a steep environmental toll with production and processing...  But that's missing the point.

That just means current production comes from China in heavies, but we have several massive sources of heavies in the States (Missouri, Nebraska) as well as Canada (Quebec) that are under development now.  Rare earths are is fact not very rare at all and are found all over the world.
You are still missing the point.  Yes there are other sources (which incidentally are considered more expensive to extract and more environmentally costly than the big mine in China).  I'm not suggesting otherwise. 

Bringing back the original quote:

There is already a lot of American discomfort relating to "rare earth elements" which China has already demonstrated they are willing to leverage for geopolitical clout (big news in Japan anyways).  Similarly, in this context it's important to remember that platinum-group metals are strategic high-tech metals.  Not just pretty baubles. 
  I'll expound on a few issues here. 

The first is China's rapid expansion in control over resources globally (metals and energy).  This happens in many ways.  In poor countries, its usually straighforward and uses production sharing agreements.  In countries like Canada, it takes the form of buying Canadian companies wherever possible, and owning up to 20% in just about everything else where possible (so the government doesn't feel inclined to get upset on behalf of upset citizens).  They also buy as much raw goods as they can.  Virtually all of the uranium out of Saskatchewan has gone to China over the last 20 years (for example).  Because they hold trillions in American paper, and expect the value of US currency to decline, they are aggresively pushing a significant amount of that money into resource capture (in various forms and formats) in order to meet future domestic needs on a long timescale.  They don't seem overly worried about valuations.  They just want to know that 15 years from now (or longer) they'll be able to robustly meet domestic needs.  The stability of their government allows them to plan over very long timespans like this.  Assuming resources are limited (and they are in an economic sense until technology breakthroughs make harder to get or lower-grade sources justifiable), then it seems a prudent strategy for a billion strong nation with domineering and economically expansionist ambitions.   

Second, the reason they have the global rare earth market by the balls, is because they have a large deposit that they can produce cheaply on the back of atrocious safety and environmental management.  The price would have to rise significantly in order for the deposits in other countries to compete.  China realises this, and has shown that it is willing to throw its resultant weight around politically. 

Now here is the main point:  Like the rare earth's market, if China obtains a large precious metals deposit that they can produce at a rate which undercuts other mines, then the other mines are likely to close with the resulting price drop.  This shifts them into a monopoly supplier position for high tech and monetary metals (below a certain price) which gives them a significant new set of domestic and geopolitical tools.  I am suggesting that this significant and long-term potential liability is not in the interest of non-Chinese countries to allow. 

Again, the moon is a prominent fixture in Chinese culture, moon holidays and such, and claiming ownership of the moon would buy the political party there a lot of points with their downtrodden masses.  I doubt any countries would try to take it from them by force, but if the international community tried to take it from them, then there are a billion serfs with their nose out of joint, with their unified upset channelled toward something external to their own non-pristine government.  Which could get tricky for non-Chinese governments. 

I know most of you probably don't like thinking in terms of what results can arise decades from now based on todays decisions.  I'm just trying to point out that yes, a primal Chinese landing is worth avoiding if reasonably possible from the long-term perspective of American interests.  If American companies stake an "exclusion zone" around their operations, then the US gov't has a lot more power in international affairs in the future.  Which the American government seems to like. 

So it seems to me realistic that a relatively small amount of Project Azorian style assistance to US mining interests today would pay itself back in the forms of future geopolitical power, the avoidance of the loss of geopolitical power, and corporate taxes on future lunar production. 

Can you see the gnomes in your garden?  Have you caught one?  No.  They're sneaky.  But their presence can be inferred as possible based on the cigarette butts and bite-marks on the carrots.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 11/25/2012 04:06 PM
... claiming ownership of the moon would buy the political party there a lot of points with their downtrodden masses ... If American companies stake an "exclusion zone" around their operations, then the US gov't has a lot more power in international affairs in the future. ... Can you see the gnomes in your garden?  ... their presence can be inferred as possible based on the cigarette butts and bite-marks on the carrots.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not succumbing to confirmation bias in totally agreeing with this assessment.

About the gnomes, I can only add the example, from my personal experience, of the best bathroom graffitti ever:

Please do not put your cigarette butts in the urinal.  It makes them soggy and hard to light.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/25/2012 05:33 PM
TLDNR

What has any of this got to do with this specific effort at a privately financed Moon landing? 

If there isn't thread on claiming ownership of lunar territory it could be started. There are several on Chinese lunar missions.

Bathroom graffiti jokes would belong in the Humor thread, if they were funny.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/25/2012 06:10 PM
Somewhat old news, but Alan Stern was quoted in New Scientist that he "can't comment either way" on the landing in the works: the first, direct semi-confirmation on his part that I've been able to find.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22523-private-moon-mission-rumour-is-glimpse-of-lunar-future.html
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/25/2012 06:19 PM
Re: Bigelow/China--odds are Bigelow is not involved, given the Paragon connection because they make their own inflatables in partnership with Thin Red Line Aerospace. They say their's is better than other inflatables--presumably, that's an indirect reference to Bigelow's modules.

http://www.paragonsdc.com/paragon_projects_09.php

Interesting lead, Warren.

What limited information that I can find suggests that Paragon only manufactures life support components, rather than inflatables, and that Thin Red Line manufatures the fabric structures that were incorporated into Bigelow's modules.  They did the skins of Genesis I and II.

Thin Red Line Aerospace LTD has an estimated 5 employees, and the president is Maxim De Jong.

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/the-big-story/compressed-air-energy-storage-has-bags-of-potential/1008374.article
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 11/25/2012 06:22 PM
Somewhat old news, but Alan Stern was quoted in New Scientist that he "can't comment either way" on the landing in the works: the first, direct semi-confirmation on his part that I've been able to find.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22523-private-moon-mission-rumour-is-glimpse-of-lunar-future.html

The New Scientist gives this website as the source of some of the rumours.  Echo chamber time.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: FinalFrontier on 11/25/2012 06:28 PM
Could the reason for the manned landing and outpost be to provide a stronger legal footing for fending off a Chinese claim to ownership of the Moon than unmanned operations would permit?

It has nothing to do with the Chinese.  Repeating over and over doesn't make it true.

Correct.

And as an aside, the only thing I can say to the massive amounts of back and forth speculation going on here is simply that when the time comes you will know who is involved and what the project is called. Until then those of us who already know have no inclination to share that information as its private, so you can speculate as much as you want but it will get you no where.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/25/2012 06:40 PM

NO! To rule in something requires evidence!

To rule something out requires a lack of evidence.

I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.

To rule something in requires evidence.  To rule something out requires evidence.  Without evidence you are left with educated guesses.

It is our educated guess that fairies do no exist, but we cannot disprove them.

In the case of China, it is quite reasonable to assume that it was an unspoken motivation for the VSE, just as Soviet ambition was the driving force behind the congessional decision to devote 10% of the federal budget to Apollo.

In this case the question is if "private" investors would be concerned enough about the threat of Chinese domination of space to sink their own dollars into a manned space effort.  That is the weak point.

And I also have to wonder if Bigelow is genuinely concerned about China, or if he is using that as a threat to lure taxpayer dollars.

Then again, maybe Golden Spike is nothing more than a low-budget powerpoint design amusement for some people.

Keep those guesses coming!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: FinalFrontier on 11/25/2012 06:45 PM

NO! To rule in something requires evidence!

To rule something out requires a lack of evidence.

I dismiss the possibility of fairies living at the end of my garden because there is a total lack of evidence to support such an idea.

To rule something in requires evidence.  To rule something out requires evidence.  Without evidence you are left with educated guesses.

It is our educated guess that fairies do no exist, but we cannot disprove them.

In the case of China, it is quite reasonable to assume that it was an unspoken motivation for the VSE, just as Soviet ambition was the driving force behind the congessional decision to devote 10% of the federal budget to Apollo.

In this case the question is if "private" investors would be concerned enough about the threat of Chinese domination of space to sink their own dollars into a manned space effort.  That is the weak point.

And I also have to wonder if Bigelow is genuinely concerned about China, or if he is using that as a threat to lure taxpayer dollars.

Then again, maybe Golden Spike is nothing more than a low-budget powerpoint design amustement for some people.

Keep those guesses coming!



The private investors are not Chinese. The company managers are not Chinese. The Chinese have exactly 0 involvement in this project or its funding.



That is a fact. You have heard it from several people who know more about this then you do if you choose to continue speculation on Chinese involvement you do so at the risk of derailing the thread.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: 93143 on 11/25/2012 06:57 PM
No one suggested the Chinese were behind this.  The suggestion was that this might be at least partly an attempt to beat the Chinese back to the moon, so as to forestall any attempt by China to claim the moon as their territory.

I will not comment on the plausibility of this suggestion, but if you're going to slap someone down for saying something, it should at least be something he actually said.

Like this:

the congessional decision to devote 10% of the federal budget to Apollo.

Apollo's most expensive year took less than 4.5% of the federal budget.  Was there some contingency commit I'm unaware of that never got exercised?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 11/25/2012 07:05 PM
In this case the question is if "private" investors would be concerned enough about the threat of Chinese domination of space to sink their own dollars into a manned space effort.  That is the weak point.
Here's an example.  I find a trillion barrel bitumen deposit in Saskatchewan, which has better reservoir qualities, and lower government take.  I contact the President of ConocoPhillips, who has very significant bitumen assets in Alberta, but of lower quality, and where government royalties are higher.  I ask him, "Would you like to participate in this project with me through investment?"  His answer should note that participation will allow exposure to the financial upside, and mitigation of losses to the downside, because his current assets in Alberta will lose value when the discovery is announced. 

Mining interests (companies and their shareholders) may not be concerned about the threat of Chinese domination of space.  But they might be concerned about the threat of Chinese domination of metal market supply.  If the current metals market is worth tens or hundreds of billion$ globally, and investing a few billion can allow participation in upside and downside benefits, then it might be worth a serious look, assuming they see the competitive threat as credible.  Clearly it's better to undercut yourself with something better than to be undercut by competitors who have something better.

Maybe China isn't a factor in the minds of participating investors.  Perhaps it should be in the mind of non-Chinese governments.  Perhaps not. 

In any event, if someone thinks they have a credible lunar mining business plan, then it's clearly advantageous to implement it before other groups do (while prices are higher and while limited resources are effectively up for grabs). 

I have not suggested Chinese involvement in golden spike in any way except as a potential competitor. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/25/2012 07:18 PM
the congessional decision to devote 10% of the federal budget to Apollo.

Apollo's most expensive year took less than 4.5% of the federal budget.  Was there some contingency commit I'm unaware of that never got exercised?

I stand corrected...5% of the federal budget!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Khadgars on 11/25/2012 07:25 PM
Quote
That just means current production comes from China in heavies, but we have several massive sources of heavies in the States (Missouri, Nebraska) as well as Canada (Quebec) that are under development now.  Rare earths are is fact not very rare at all and are found all over the world.
 You are still missing the point.  Yes there are other sources (which incidentally are considered more expensive to extract and more environmentally costly than the big mine in China).  I'm not suggesting otherwise. 

Bringing back the original quote:

Not to get too much into it, but its the very pressure that China is putting on the supply of rare earths that makes harvesting mines outside of China very attractive.  As you stated, these metals are critical and having secure sources of it is extremely attractive despite the higher cost.  By the end of the decade China's monopoly on rare earths will be over regardless of price, companies are willing to pay extra to have secure source outside of China.  I can send you several links if you're interested.

The only reason I'm going off topic is because it was referenced as a possible reason to mine the moon, privately no less.  Rare earths are not rare at all and mines all over the world are going into production regardless of what happens in China.

I don't see how a private moon landing makes any financial sense at this point nor do I see how they have the expertise or experience to do so.  Can we wait to see how commercial crew does in LEO and at the ISS for a few years before worrying about private moon landing.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 11/25/2012 07:41 PM
The only reason I'm going off topic is because it was referenced as a possible reason to mine the moon, privately no less.  Rare earths are not rare at all and mines all over the world are going into production regardless of what happens in China.

On top of that, there is no evidence of high grade deposits of rare earths on the Moon. My understanding is that the processes that created those ores on Earth have not been present on the Moon.

Even if there were rare earth deposits on the moon, it is probable that it would be easier to mine asteroids for them. There is no shortage of asteroids, some are suitable orbits and processing them seems no more difficult than the moon.

Mining technology is improving all the time. While high grade ores are running out fast there are plenty of lower grade ores. Mining those low grade ores is going to be cheaper than space based mining, except just possibly in one or two rare instances.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 11/25/2012 08:15 PM
Are they planning on funding their own Lunar lander or is the lander already being funded by another?

If they are funding it them selves are they looking for investors?
If they are this could be an opportunity for people to get involved with small investments like $20,$50,$100 per month or per year as their budget allowed. If 100,000,000 people invested just $20 each per year the private group would have $2B to work with.

An option for the private group or others like them to attract small investors could be to set up a fund that the investors money went into were if there was any profit made then some of it could be sent to schools. This way the investor could win in several ways.
1 ) invest in a space program that they want
2 ) possible see privately ( no government ) crewed Lunar landing in the near term
3 ) help create good jobs in their market area
4 ) if there is a profit then it could help fund future education
5 ) I'm sure the list can be added to
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/25/2012 09:29 PM
Was always going to be the case, but this thread is getting to be a bit rediculous with some shouty posts.

Deleted it back a bit as it was also fast turning into an L2 advert when I don't want people joining L2 for any other reason than to support the site, the rest is a very big bonus....

The main thing everyone needs to know is there's still likely to be an announcement in December, then we can all go nuts into the details.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/25/2012 10:04 PM
The private investors are not Chinese. The company managers are not Chinese. The Chinese have exactly 0 involvement in this project or its funding.

That is a fact. ...

Actually, that's not a fact. The investors remain unknown at this point. Customers <> investors. All we know is there  is supposedly some big money behind the project this time, and it's in the billions, and that at least some of it comes from offshore. Therefore, the $XB could be coming from practically anywhere. China has more than its fair share of billionaires. There's no reason that one or more of these could not be involved as a potential investor (or customer) either now or later down the line. Or is there?

They are going to need as many billions as they can lay their hands on IMHO, and so won't be picky where it comes from, as long as it's halfway legal...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 11/26/2012 12:19 AM

Deleted it back a bit as it was also fast turning into an L2 advert when I don't want people joining L2 for any other reason than to support the site, the rest is a very big bonus....


Noble sentiments!  I just might have to join...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 11/27/2012 11:37 AM
I'm dubious of a LLO station. The moon has a very lumpy gravity field, so you can't orbit too close without needing lots of station-keeping delta v. Likewise, if you raise the orbit high enough that the lunar gravity field is smooth, you get so far that perturbations from the Earth (and Sun) again add lots of station-keeping delta v. L1 and L2 also need station-keeping, but much lower amounts of delta v. Halo orbits around L4 and L5 (or circulating between them) are the only naturally stable orbits that are close to the Moon in delta v space.


Not all Lunar orbits are unstable.


"After lowering the asteroid to a stable lunar orbit, a high-fidelity propagation was performed using Copernicus [38] and all potential perturbations for a demonstration of stability. The asteroid remained captured in lunar orbit after 20 years of simulation without any additional station-keeping as shown in
Fig. 15."
From: Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study
At: http://kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdf
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 11/27/2012 12:10 PM
There seems to be a convergence of asteroid mining and Moon missions.
And that Lunar convergence may have an influence on who is headed to the Moon and why they are going there.


"The delivery of a 500-t asteroid to lunar orbit, therefore, represents a mass amplification factor of about 28-to-1. That is, whatever mass is launched to LEO, 28 times that mass would be delivered to high lunar orbit. Longer flight times, higher power SEP systems, or a target object in a particularly favorable orbit could increase the mass amplification factor from 28-to-1 to 70-to-1 or greater."

And, "Galactic Cosmic Rays: Exposure to Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) may represent a show-stopper for human exploration in deep space [10]. The only known solution is to provide sufficient radiation shielding mass. One of the potentially earliest uses of the returned asteroid material would be for
radiation shielding against GCRs. Astronauts could cannibalize the asteroid for material to upgrade their deep space habitat with radiation shielding."

From: Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study
At: http://kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdf


Edited.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/27/2012 01:15 PM
The last couple of posts don't tell us anything about the prospects for a big near term announcement of a commercial crewed lunar landing.

Is there any new data about Golden Spike?  The Google is all over this, but most of the sources lead back to something called "NASA spaceflight.com".

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: muomega0 on 11/27/2012 01:59 PM
This thread is about a private moon landing in the works.  One of the questions being raised concerns GCR protection in the landing hardware.  Other questions are if the hardware aids NASA to meet its exploration goals, which then possibly would allow a government (tax payer) contribution.

The caltech study cites a paper that has been refuted in the literature:


And, "Galactic Cosmic Rays: Exposure to Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) may represent a show-stopper for human exploration in deep space [10]. The only known solution is to provide sufficient radiation shielding mass.(?) One of the potentially earliest uses of the returned asteroid material would be for radiation shielding against GCRs. Astronauts could cannibalize the asteroid for material to upgrade their deep space habitat with radiation shielding."

From: Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study
At: http://kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdf


Also from the Caltech Study:

"One of the simplest but highly leveraged benefits from these resources might be the provision of bulk shielding material for future deep-space expeditions—a simple but effective countermeasure to galactic cosmic ray exposure."  (?)

Reference 10 is from 1996.  This is the paper with the classic mistake on the amount of field required to deflect GCR.   A quote from this article:
"To deflect the bulk of cosmic rays, which have energies of up to two gigaelectron-volts, requires a magnetic field 600,000 times as strong as Earth's magnetic field.  The spacecraft designers could add a second, inner ring, but the cancellation is only partial and greatly increases the complexity of the system".   Does anyone recall the units error that caused the probe to crash into mars.   ;)

So in the private moon landing, plastic has been proposed for shielding, and its not clear if regolith is also being considered.

The physics tells us that thin absorbers allow particles above a cutoff energy to pass into the shelter (which neglects most GCR energies!) and continue to be ineffective until substantial thickness is achieved (mass ~ 100 tons).

So One must abandon the concept of 'absorbing' the radiation by shielding (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=1337.msg978802#msg978802) for space travel.

In the weight trade, active systems are lighter than absorbers.  So why burden a Mars transfer vehicle with more weight, or place the crew behind rocks with no windows?

So it is not logical that a convergence in mining lunar and asteroids solves NASA's Exploration charter, nor does this private moon landing appear to have any significant benefits to NASA either.  In waiting mode.

At 1,000/kg launch cost and at least 80,000 kg need to land on the surface (=80M), it is not clear how the business case even closes for crew.  Still waiting to see the mining justification too.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 11/27/2012 02:09 PM
Since this private moon landing is allegedly planning just short forays onto the lunar surface, the last post seems to be irrelevant to the conversation.

There is no requirement for more shielding from cosmic rays for the private mission than for the Apollo landings.


Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: muomega0 on 11/27/2012 02:27 PM
Since this private moon landing is allegedly planning just short forays onto the lunar surface, the last post seems to be irrelevant to the conversation.
There is no requirement for more shielding from cosmic rays for the private mission than for the Apollo landings.

Yes, we agree:   the repeat of the flags and footprints mission of Apollo, or IOW, the private moon landing is similar to the Constellation Missions sets:  go to the moon twice per year for 6 day lunar sorties with a crew of 6 and make no provisions to head Beyond a lunar orbit.

So best wishes to the private moon landing, but please be prepared to justify how your landing would require any taxpayer dollars, e.g. helps meets NASA's exploration needs, if it neglects GCR protection.

So I completely disagree that the post is irrelevant.   But would clearly have no objections for the police to create a topic or move the posts to the correct location.   how fair would it be to allow a post with misinformation to remain and no way to respond?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 11/27/2012 02:39 PM
Since this private moon landing is allegedly planning just short forays onto the lunar surface, the last post seems to be irrelevant to the conversation.
There is no requirement for more shielding from cosmic rays for the private mission than for the Apollo landings.

Yes, we agree:   the repeat of the flags and footprints mission of Apollo, or IOW, the private moon landing is similar to the Constellation Missions sets:  go to the moon twice per year for 6 day lunar sorties with a crew of 6 and make no provisions to head Beyond a lunar orbit.

So best wishes to the private moon landing, but please be prepared to justify how your landing would require any taxpayer dollars, e.g. helps meets NASA's exploration needs, if it neglects GCR protection.

So I completely disagree that the post is irrelevant.   But would clearly have no objections for the police to create a topic or move the posts to the correct location.   how fair would it be to allow a post with misinformation to remain and no way to respond?

no, no, and no

We don't know ANYTHING about the details of this private moon landing.  The statement about a short stay, flags and footprints, is without basis.  Are there any statements from the involved parties to the effect that they would be "similar to Constellation missions"?  No there are not.

The only thing we DO know is that this thread is titled "Private Moon Landing".  There is no evidence to support the contention that NASA money is involved.  We also  have no information on how they plan to deal with GCR. 

So yes, it IS irrelevant.  Hypothesizing without evidence and criticizing those hypothesis is useless. 

Can we wait until we have some piece of information, instead of churning on conjectures?  (I tried to get some new info but failed.)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: muomega0 on 11/27/2012 03:13 PM
Since this private moon landing is allegedly planning just short forays onto the lunar surface, the last post seems to be irrelevant to the conversation.
There is no requirement for more shielding from cosmic rays for the private mission than for the Apollo landings.

Yes, we agree:   the repeat of the flags and footprints mission of Apollo, or IOW, the private moon landing is similar to the Constellation Missions sets:  go to the moon twice per year for 6 day lunar sorties with a crew of 6 and make no provisions to head Beyond a lunar orbit.

So best wishes to the private moon landing, but please be prepared to justify how your landing would require any taxpayer dollars, e.g. helps meets NASA's exploration needs, if it neglects GCR protection.

So I completely disagree that the post is irrelevant.   But would clearly have no objections for the police to create a topic or move the posts to the correct location.   how fair would it be to allow a post with misinformation to remain and no way to respond?

no, no, and no

We don't know ANYTHING about the details of this private moon landing.  The statement about a short stay, flags and footprints, is without basis.  Are there any statements from the involved parties to the effect that they would be "similar to Constellation missions"?  No there are not.

The only thing we DO know is that this thread is titled "Private Moon Landing".  There is no evidence to support the contention that NASA money is involved.  We also  have no information on how they plan to deal with GCR. 

So yes, it IS irrelevant.  Hypothesizing without evidence and criticizing those hypothesis is useless. 

Can we wait until we have some piece of information, instead of churning on conjectures?  (I tried to get some new info but failed.)

Returning to the original post and Chris's article from the internet.

From Chris' latest article:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/

The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules.

So propellant depots would not fit the current HLV architecture, unfortunately.

A lunar orbit is not part of the L2 gateway architecture.

a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules for long-term ambitions does not address GCR.

Development of active systems for GCR was hindered by initial choice of passive shields and the incorrect evaluation that immense magnetic fields and volumes were required (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30367.msg984673#msg984673)

It takes a significant system engineering to iterate on the correct architecture.  Providing timely feedback to everyone, and opening up the trade studies on every piece of proposed hardware is vital to successful implementation.   There are significant development efforts required for dozens of hardware elements to explore, yet.....

So i stand by my conclusion:  best wishes on the private moon landing, it just does not fit with any NASA Congressional plans, as stated in the article.  Perhaps their plan can be updated if they wish taxpayer funding--just go speak to the CDTs.   (Congressional Design Teams).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 11/27/2012 07:54 PM
Hey guys! Guess what? There's a new thread all about GCR's and the problem they represent over in the Mars Missions subforum here! (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30480.0) 8)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/30/2012 01:14 PM
That website (I deleted the link) is clearly some kid. The first post was a copy and paste of one of mine in L2.

He's not getting linked here and he's going to get my size 11 boot up his backside.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ciscosdad on 11/30/2012 09:12 PM
You've confused me Chris. (not difficult I will admit). You are clearly not referring to Warrens new GCR thread.

??
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 11/30/2012 10:54 PM
Na, some homemade blog site, clearly claiming to be running info when it looks like (actually is) he's just copying off here and other sites.

By the way, it's about to get exciting, potentially within a week.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/01/2012 12:08 AM
Here we go! ;D

NASAWatch with the find (they tweeted it)....

6 Dec 2012:

Golden Spike Company Debut 2:00 pm
Bloomberg Room
National Press Club Washington DC

http://press.org/events/golden-spike-company-debut
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 12/01/2012 12:29 AM
Here we go! ;D

NASAWatch with the find (they tweeted it)....

6 Dec 2012:

Golden Spike Company Debut 2:00 pm
Bloomberg Room
National Press Club Washington DC

http://press.org/events/golden-spike-company-debut

Great stuff Chris, we’ll be on pins and needles until then! ;D
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/01/2012 01:12 AM
GoldenSpikeCompany website placeholder? (http://goldenspikecompany.info)

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 12/01/2012 01:38 AM
National Press Club?!? Does that mean we can watch it on CSPAN?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: arachnitect on 12/01/2012 02:31 AM
National Press Club?!? Does that mean we can watch it on CSPAN?

Anyone with a few dollars can rent the National Press Club facilities.

Don't expect any coverage of [whatever this is] outside of enthusiast circles.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 12/01/2012 04:56 AM
http://goldenspikecompany.info

GoldenSpikeCompany website placeholder?

Spoof domain name registered in Romania according to NW....
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/01/2012 05:12 AM
Ever since the nonsense flexible path "Missions to Nowhere" proposal I have been waiting for someone to wake up and realize that NASA needs a LANDER.  Glad to hear that someone might be seriously thinking about filling the gap.

However, it would make so much more sense if $18B/year NASA was the customer, rather than waiting around for another decade or two for a commercial market to materialize...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: sfjcody_ on 12/01/2012 05:38 AM
Is it possible that the sight of astronauts from a small oil rich Gulf state walking on the moon could create a new 'Sputnik moment' in the US, Europe, China etc and spur these major world players into giving manned spaceflight funding a boost?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/01/2012 05:46 AM
"Galactic Suites space hotel is on course for a 2012 debut"

http://dvice.com/archives/2009/11/galactic-suites.php
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/01/2012 03:54 PM
Don't expect any coverage of [whatever this is] outside of enthusiast circles.

Simply by dropping a few names, it is possible to make the most unlikely and outlandish proposals sound respectable and newsworthy.

That is the real reason for the Planetary Resoruces announcement.  After several years of having to do battle with snickering and ridicule, they had finally had enough.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Jim on 12/01/2012 03:56 PM
Ever since the nonsense flexible path "Missions to Nowhere" proposal I have been waiting for someone to wake up and realize that NASA needs a LANDER. 

NASA does not need one
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: 2552 on 12/01/2012 07:13 PM
Golden Spike News Conference - Dec. 6th  (http://newspacewatch.com/articles/golden-spike-news-conference-dec-6th.html)

Quote from: Clark Lindsey
The mysterious company Golden Spike, which is said to be planning a privately financed expedition to the Moon (see previous posts here and here), will have a coming out press conference next Thursday at the National Press Club: Golden Spike Company Debut | The National Press Club -

    Golden Spike Company Debut

    December 6, 2012 2:00 PM
    News conferences

    Location: Bloomberg Room

I see that Bobby Block is their press contact person. He was a space reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and then left to work for SpaceX for awhile and was most recently with the CASIS organization, which organizes research projects for the ISS.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: edkyle99 on 12/01/2012 08:13 PM
Quote from: Clark Lindsey

I see that Bobby Block is their press contact person. He was a space reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and then left to work for SpaceX for awhile and was most recently with the CASIS organization, which organizes research projects for the ISS.

If so, I will enjoy watching this enterprise fail.  While Mr. Block was at the Orlando Sentinel the newspaper waged war against NASA's plans to return astronauts to the Moon.  The Sentinel won, which is why there are no plans for a U.S. lunar return.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ugordan on 12/01/2012 08:23 PM
If so, I will enjoy watching this enterprise fail.

That's the spirit!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: joek on 12/01/2012 08:59 PM
Quote from: Clark Lindsey

I see that Bobby Block is their press contact person. He was a space reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and then left to work for SpaceX for awhile and was most recently with the CASIS organization, which organizes research projects for the ISS.
If so, I will enjoy watching this enterprise fail.  While Mr. Block was at the Orlando Sentinel the newspaper waged war against NASA's plans to return astronauts to the Moon.  The Sentinel won, which is why there are no plans for a U.S. lunar return.

I thought Block was pro-commercial (?) which would seem a good fit.  Was it that Block was "against NASA's plans to return astronauts to the Moon", or how NASA planned (or not) to do so?  Seems to me that you could be pro-return-to-moon, but not necessarily supportive of how-when-if NASA return-to-moon plans?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: RocketmanUS on 12/01/2012 10:26 PM
Ever since the nonsense flexible path "Missions to Nowhere" proposal I have been waiting for someone to wake up and realize that NASA needs a LANDER. 

NASA does not need one
Why not? Many American's want to see the U.S. go back to the moon and that means they will need a lander for that. If commercial does make a human rated lander then NASA could possible by one or pay to send it's crew on it.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Lars_J on 12/01/2012 11:31 PM
Quote from: Clark Lindsey

I see that Bobby Block is their press contact person. He was a space reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and then left to work for SpaceX for awhile and was most recently with the CASIS organization, which organizes research projects for the ISS.

If so, I will enjoy watching this enterprise fail.  While Mr. Block was at the Orlando Sentinel the newspaper waged war against NASA's plans to return astronauts to the Moon.  The Sentinel won, which is why there are no plans for a U.S. lunar return.

 - Ed Kyle

Ed, I think you know that CxP had a weeee more problems than an annoying newspaper.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: joek on 12/02/2012 01:11 AM
But I have to agree that keeping the ISS alive for a few more years at the price of scrapping real missions to the Moon and then Mars, was a colossal blunder.

Who said anything about ISS?  But since you mentioned it... *POOF* ISS is dead and you now have ~$3.2B/yr for the foreseeable future (maybe, if the funds don't disappear off the "fiscal cliff").  As far as I can tell, that's still not going to get you very far towards "real missions to the Moon and then Mars" any time soon unless you also scrap NASA's DRM's.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/02/2012 02:40 AM
[But since you mentioned it... *POOF* ISS is dead and you now have ~$3.2B/yr for the foreseeable future (maybe, if the funds don't disappear off the "fiscal cliff").  As far as I can tell, that's still not going to get you very far towards "real missions to the Moon and then Mars" any time soon unless you also scrap NASA's DRM's.

Where do you think the Augustine request for an additional $3B per year for NASA came from?  Someone correct me if my numbers are slightly off, but the ISS was not in the NASA budget beyond 2015, so they killed Constellation in order to have money to keep ISS alive long enought to provide a justification for CCDev.  In addition, shuttle budget overruns also cut into Constellation's very limited development budget.  At least that is the way Wayne Hale tells it:

http://waynehale.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/6/

(I can fully empathize with anyone who thinks it is foolish to spend all that money on the ISS and only use it for a few years.  Even so, I am not sure that LEO is a meaningful objective for NASA.  To quote our great leader, "We've been there before." )
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 12/02/2012 03:36 AM
Do we have high hopes for a Private Moon Landing, yet have very low expectations for NASA to get humans on the Moon?

What an odd world.

Are the folks in Congress and other supporters of PUBLIC LAW 111–267—OCT. 11, 2010 happy about NASA's obvious and entrenched lack of planning for a human Lunar Lander?

I wish both the Golden Spike Company and the folks at Spaceworks the best of luck and offer a big "Thank you" for stimulating and contributing to the national and international discussion about Lunar Landers.


Cheers!


Edited.     
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 12/02/2012 04:17 AM
Simply by dropping a few names, it is possible to make the most unlikely and outlandish proposals sound respectable and newsworthy.
Someone should send Freeman Dyson a text message. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/02/2012 06:01 AM
Why, is Golden Spike planning on disassembling the Moon and building a Dyson sphere with it?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: jabe on 12/02/2012 11:06 AM
well
Golden spike is official.  They are on facebook and twitter ;)
https://twitter.com/GoldenSpikeCo

https://www.facebook.com/pages/GoldenSpikeCo/158553877504750?ref=hl

cheers
jb
edit:and another little story about it
 (http://spaceports.blogspot.ca/2012/12/golden-spike-to-make-announcement-dec-6.html)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/02/2012 02:34 PM
Simply by dropping a few names, it is possible to make the most unlikely and outlandish proposals sound respectable and newsworthy.
Someone should send Freeman Dyson a text message. 

For the Planetary Resources PR event they named investors but refused to provide any budget figures, which can lead one to wonder if a few ultra-wealthy people gave them a token donation just for fun, or in order to get them to go away.  That their total headcount is only something like two dozen and they need to find peripheral sources of revenue to keep the lights turned on suggests that they could be operating on a shoestring.

Just a few years ago, in 2008, there was the announcement by Galactic Suites that they would have a space hotel in LEO by 2012, with the modules constructed by EADS Astrium.  However, that was total news to Astrium, which denied any knowledge of the project

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Suite_Design
 
If Golden Spike can priovide real budget figures then it could be an indication that they are real, which would be a welcome change from the usual snake oil cures for futuritis.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/02/2012 03:30 PM
I don't want this thread ruined by silly comments (too late, I know), but a bit of a trim is required as it really does get past the realm of nonsense when people think the Orlando Sentinel cancelled CxP.

Anyway, at least we'll have a new thread for Thursday.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 12/02/2012 04:59 PM
Why, is Golden Spike planning on disassembling the Moon and building a Dyson sphere with it?
Apparently almost no one believe project Orion was realistic until a credible and brilliant celebrity physicist said it was possible. 
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 12/02/2012 05:58 PM
Apparently almost no one believe project Orion was realistic until a credible and brilliant celebrity physicist said it was possible. 

You're talking about the 1950s Project Orion? AKA "old Bang-Bang"?

And if that credible and brilliant scientist said it was realisitic, then how come we don't have Orions blasting off to Mars and Saturn every day?

Seriously, your example is an ominous one, for I have this disctinctive feeling that this "Private Moon Landing" project is about as likely to come to fruition as Project Orion. And more or less for the same reason: High-flying dreams crashing into the hard wall of reality...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: edkyle99 on 12/02/2012 06:28 PM
Ed, I think you know that CxP had a weeee more problems than an annoying newspaper.
It had challenges like any big ambitious program.  It's biggest problem was weak political support, which meant insufficient funding. 

Orlando Sentinel is a "hometown" paper in NASA's Kennedy Space Center neighborhood.  Its anti-CxP bias helped undermine political support.  Of course it didn't bring down CxP by itself, but it piled on at critical moments.  It is undeniably one part of the reason that the United States now has no plans or program to return to the Moon.

Golden Spike and Mr. Block will now face the same problem - namely the ability to retain committed funding of many billions of dollars over the long term in the face of development challenges.  I'll be reading the Sentinel very closely, to see if it asks the same hard questions, because nothing this big will avoid being supported somehow by tax breaks, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 12/02/2012 08:08 PM
Interesting first link provided by Golden Spike that perhaps sheds some light on their motivation:

http://www.americaspace.org/?p=27669

It's about the 40th aniversary of Apollo 17 and how the astronaut/scientist crew (who were originally slated for Apollo 18) were selected for the mission.

In other news: Interesting rumor that Warren Buffet may be involved. He could bankroll the whole mission without a big dent in his portfolio! Golden Spike on FB also threw out Stevie Nicks' name: that would be fun to have Stevie a captivated in small capsule for a weeklong junket to the Moon! Wishful thinking on Dr. Stern's part, thoughm, no doubt! ;)

Latest tweet from GoldenSpike@GoldenSpikeCo: Tweet, tweet, @GoldenSpikeCo appreciates your retweets. Let others know what was underground will soon emerge!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: arachnitect on 12/02/2012 08:34 PM

In other news: Interesting rumor that Warren Buffet may be involved.

Says who, and how would they know?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/02/2012 08:53 PM
Homer Hickam says that yes, he does have plans for Thusday afternoon...

http://www.facebook.com/hhickam#!/HomerHickam?fref=ts
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 12/02/2012 08:56 PM
And if that credible and brilliant scientist said it was realisitic, then how come we don't have Orions blasting off to Mars and Saturn every day?
Because Freeman subsequently calculated how many cancer related deaths were likely per launch.  Golden Spike won't have any similar consequence. 

Perhaps Warren Buffet types would be of more use in adding credibility for the general public nowadays.  People would assume, probably correctly, that Warren would have the idea vetted by several very bright people who have appropriate expertise.  He can afford good advice, and like most billionaires, is financially conservative by nature.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ChefPat on 12/02/2012 10:20 PM
Quote from: Clark Lindsey

I see that Bobby Block is their press contact person. He was a space reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and then left to work for SpaceX for awhile and was most recently with the CASIS organization, which organizes research projects for the ISS.

If so, I will enjoy watching this enterprise fail.  While Mr. Block was at the Orlando Sentinel the newspaper waged war against NASA's plans to return astronauts to the Moon.  The Sentinel won, which is why there are no plans for a U.S. lunar return.

 - Ed Kyle
It certainly looks like an American effort to return to the Lunar Surface to me.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: edkyle99 on 12/02/2012 10:30 PM
It certainly looks like an American effort to return to the Lunar Surface to me.
We'll have to see where the money comes from.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/03/2012 02:31 AM
Indeed, but private funding for grand project is a much more "American" way to do it that getting it all from taxes. "Destination Moon" has always been a favorite of mine for exactly that reason.

Speaking of which, you can't argue with the picture Golden Spike just tweeted... ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Bill White on 12/03/2012 03:17 AM
We also can't argue with NasaWatch Tweet:

"No funding? No game change!"
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: daveklingler on 12/03/2012 04:07 AM
I'm going to throw my guesses into the ring, just for the heck of it.  I'm not an L2 subscriber, so I'm sure lots of L2 folks know a lot more than I do.  Come to that, I don't know anything.

- International Lunar Observatory Association is involved as a funder, because they've already offered a portion of the money.
- SpaceX launchers with new lox/methane upper stages, because it's a technical fit and because lox/methane could work well for depots
- Bigelow hab, because they're already involved with SpaceX and because they're the only inflatable game in town
- EML1, because it has a great view for tourists (as pointed out a while back in another thread by John Fornaro) and it currently looks as good or better than a lunar orbit
- 2-stage lox/methane reusable lander, because it's simple to build a reusable lander that way (alternative would be NOFBX, but since Elon wants to head to Mars, it seems to me he'd go for lox/methane.
- Dragon return capsule, because it (almost) exists

Structuring a deal like this one would help SpaceX with Dragon and upper stage development, especially in the face of reduced CCiCap funding, whether or not it succeeds.  And a lot of pieces are in place or on the way.

*edit - I just re-read Homer Hickam's open letter to Bolden from 2010, which mentions building a lunar cycler.  Lunar cyclers (along with Homer Hickam's presence) might fit the whole "golden spike" paradigm a lot better than the more conventional pieces I've described above.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: QuantumG on 12/03/2012 05:43 AM
we don't even know if it is even going to be a manned lunar landing.

Yes we do.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: aquanaut99 on 12/03/2012 05:54 AM
we don't even know if it is even going to be a manned lunar landing.

Yes we do.


Have you heard the official announcement yet? Because I sure haven't.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: docmordrid on 12/03/2012 06:19 AM
>
- Bigelow hab, because they're already involved with SpaceX and because they're the only inflatable game in town
>

Paragon and Thin Red Line Aerospace are also developing an expandable hab based on TRL's Ultra-High Performance Vessel (UHPV). Thin Red Line has also worked on the Bigelow expandables, and with NASA, Boeing etc.

http://www.thin-red-line.com/projects.html
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: QuantumG on 12/03/2012 06:23 AM
we don't even know if it is even going to be a manned lunar landing.

Yes we do.


Have you heard the official announcement yet? Because I sure haven't.

I don't know when you're going to figure this out: if Chris has said it, it's as good as true. That's how real journalism works.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: sfjcody_ on 12/03/2012 06:53 AM
On a lighter note, on the subject of a return to the Moon- this rewording of a perennially popular UK football anthem occurred to me the other day. Would work better if I really were old enough to remember Apollo, but still.

To the tune of 'Three Lions' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh9AgkAZU0g

We’re going back
We’re going back
We’re going
Mankind’s going back…
(x4)

Everyone seems to know the score
They've seen it all before
They just know
They're so sure

That mankind's never
Leaving this shack
Think we'll never go back
But I know they’re just hacks
Cos' I remember

Boots on lunar dirt
Golden foil gleaming
40 Years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

So many jokes, so many jeers
But all those oh so nears
Wear you down
Through the years

But I still see that
Unearthly view
Of a world old and new
When the future was cool
And Eagle landed…

Boots on lunar dirt
Golden foil gleaming
40 Years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming

I know that was then
But it could be again

We’re going back
We’re going back
We’re going
Mankind’s going back…
 (x4)

Boots on lunar dirt
Golden foil gleaming
40 Years of hurt
Never stopped me dreaming
 (repeat to fade)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: spaceboy89 on 12/03/2012 08:07 AM
The Sun has now picked this up

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4677877/Richard-Branson-moon-trip-plan.html
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Borklund on 12/03/2012 08:20 AM
There's been a whole lot of nonsense in this thread the last few pages :( I'm not even sure who's sarcastic anymore.

The Sun's photoshopped image made me chortle :D
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/03/2012 12:07 PM
The Sun has now picked this up

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4677877/Richard-Branson-moon-trip-plan.html

If The Sun is correct in the details of its story, then we might have some idea of the mid- to long-term business case.  Virgin Galactic is all about space tourism, after all, and I can't see Mr Branson funding something  (no matter how cool) with no hope of some return on his investment.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/03/2012 12:59 PM
There's been a whole lot of nonsense in this thread the last few pages :( I'm not even sure who's sarcastic anymore.



Yes there is, and I've removed most of it.

While I'm really looking forward to locking this thread as it's gone the way most pre-announcement threads usually go, twice in a day or so we've had people calling out people/writers - by name - in a way that's really not on. We can't allow that as at the bottom end it's right of reply or lack thereof (i.e. you can call me out as it's my site and I can respond. This isn't the "feedback" area for other sites) and the top end they could treat it as slander.

Not too pleased about the Sun link. That's a tabloid known for crap and also is something I've boycotted since the Hillsbrough disaster. Suppose I have to leave that on here :(

Now everyone please behave.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/03/2012 05:46 PM
Simply by dropping a few names, it is possible to make the most unlikely and outlandish proposals sound respectable and newsworthy.
Someone should send Freeman Dyson a text message. 

For the Planetary Resources PR event they named investors but refused to provide any budget figures, which can lead one to wonder if a few ultra-wealthy people gave them a token donation just for fun, or in order to get them to go away.  That their total headcount is only something like two dozen and they need to find peripheral sources of revenue to keep the lights turned on suggests that they could be operating on a shoestring.

Just a few years ago, in 2008, there was the announcement by Galactic Suites that they would have a space hotel in LEO by 2012, with the modules constructed by EADS Astrium.  However, that was total news to Astrium, which denied any knowledge of the project

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Suite_Design
 
If Golden Spike can priovide real budget figures then it could be an indication that they are real, which would be a welcome change from the usual snake oil cures for futuritis.
You've hit on something, here.

Just because billionaires support something doesn't mean they're going to give billions to it. (Though I don't think they want them to just "go away.") Putting billions into something like Planetary Resources /right now/ would probably be a horrible investment decision. But a few million to advance the state of current knowledge? That may work. You don't massively reduce costs by starting out with an enormous financial investment... You'd just be encouraging wasteful spending.

They've got a good concept with the Arkyd spacecraft. It solves some important problems for the long-term vision and is a decent idea all by itself and can be done for a relatively small investment. Planetary Resources' only chance is to figure out how to do something that sounds like it'd cost trillions (i.e. mine asteroids) for only billions or maybe even just in the hundreds of millions. But to get to that point, to figure out exactly what they need to build, what asteroids to target, and how to process them, they need to build Arkyd and develop it as a flexible platform that can mostly pay for itself (or it will never get to the end-goal while still being affordable).

There are lots of little hobby-become-startup space groups out there with small teams and small funding (or no funding) but hoping to accomplish grand visions. What is Golden Spike? Probably something like that, maybe more. But whatever it is, I sort of doubt they'll be a fully-formed and funded private Apollo program. Which is fine. This sort of stuff takes time, and there are lots of interesting advances being made that will make this increasingly doable.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: manboy on 12/03/2012 05:56 PM
[But since you mentioned it... *POOF* ISS is dead and you now have ~$3.2B/yr for the foreseeable future (maybe, if the funds don't disappear off the "fiscal cliff").  As far as I can tell, that's still not going to get you very far towards "real missions to the Moon and then Mars" any time soon unless you also scrap NASA's DRM's.

Where do you think the Augustine request for an additional $3B per year for NASA came from?  Someone correct me if my numbers are slightly off, but the ISS was not in the NASA budget beyond 2015, so they killed Constellation in order to have money to keep ISS alive long enought to provide a justification for CCDev.  In addition, shuttle budget overruns also cut into Constellation's very limited development budget.  At least that is the way Wayne Hale tells it:

http://waynehale.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/6/

(I can fully empathize with anyone who thinks it is foolish to spend all that money on the ISS and only use it for a few years.  Even so, I am not sure that LEO is a meaningful objective for NASA.  To quote our great leader, "We've been there before." )
Wasn't Obama referring to the Moon?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: spaceboy89 on 12/03/2012 06:29 PM

Not too pleased about the Sun link. That's a tabloid known for crap...

I agree, however it is interesting that it is the only mainstream British press outlet that I have seen run the story. I wonder what we'll see after the announcement.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 12/03/2012 07:04 PM
Simply by dropping a few names, it is possible to make the most unlikely and outlandish proposals sound respectable and newsworthy.
Someone should send Freeman Dyson a text message. 

For the Planetary Resources PR event they named investors but refused to provide any budget figures, which can lead one to wonder if a few ultra-wealthy people gave them a token donation just for fun, or in order to get them to go away.  That their total headcount is only something like two dozen and they need to find peripheral sources of revenue to keep the lights turned on suggests that they could be operating on a shoestring.

Just a few years ago, in 2008, there was the announcement by Galactic Suites that they would have a space hotel in LEO by 2012, with the modules constructed by EADS Astrium.  However, that was total news to Astrium, which denied any knowledge of the project

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Suite_Design
 
If Golden Spike can priovide real budget figures then it could be an indication that they are real, which would be a welcome change from the usual snake oil cures for futuritis.
You've hit on something, here.

Just because billionaires support something doesn't mean they're going to give billions to it. (Though I don't think they want them to just "go away.") Putting billions into something like Planetary Resources /right now/ would probably be a horrible investment decision. But a few million to advance the state of current knowledge? That may work. You don't massively reduce costs by starting out with an enormous financial investment... You'd just be encouraging wasteful spending.

They've got a good concept with the Arkyd spacecraft. It solves some important problems for the long-term vision and is a decent idea all by itself and can be done for a relatively small investment. Planetary Resources' only chance is to figure out how to do something that sounds like it'd cost trillions (i.e. mine asteroids) for only billions or maybe even just in the hundreds of millions. But to get to that point, to figure out exactly what they need to build, what asteroids to target, and how to process them, they need to build Arkyd and develop it as a flexible platform that can mostly pay for itself (or it will never get to the end-goal while still being affordable).

There are lots of little hobby-become-startup space groups out there with small teams and small funding (or no funding) but hoping to accomplish grand visions. What is Golden Spike? Probably something like that, maybe more. But whatever it is, I sort of doubt they'll be a fully-formed and funded private Apollo program. Which is fine. This sort of stuff takes time, and there are lots of interesting advances being made that will make this increasingly doable.

That's the great thing about Planetary Resources, they have a plan to get there from here, and if they don't make it all the way there, the steps along the way are still worthwhile.

But its hard to see how you can scale up a plan for lunar ventures.   I guess you could start by doing flybys and/or setting up a station at L1, but I don’t see the a reasonable commercial market for it or a big lever to get government backing.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: daveklingler on 12/03/2012 07:41 PM
>
- Bigelow hab, because they're already involved with SpaceX and because they're the only inflatable game in town
>

Paragon and Thin Red Line Aerospace are also developing an expandable hab based on TRL's Ultra-High Performance Vessel (UHPV). Thin Red Line has also worked on the Bigelow expandables, and with NASA, Boeing etc.

http://www.thin-red-line.com/projects.html

Wow.  It's never occurred to me that Bigelow had outsourced anything.  Thanks!

I'd be surprised if SpaceX made an end run around Bigelow, however. Unless the choice wasn't theirs to make.

Last night after I'd posted I noticed the SpaceX lunar mission thread.  It's a toss-up whether speculation on Golden Spike's mission components belong there or here, but I guess if nobody else wants to make WAGs, I'll take my WAGs there.  :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 12/03/2012 09:01 PM
its hard to see how you can scale up a plan for lunar ventures.   I guess you could start by doing flybys and/or setting up a station at L1, but I don’t see the a reasonable commercial market for it
At a guess, Zond style tourism to start, with an elaborate Gantt chart of increasingly elaborate and ambitious plans, funding TBA (post IPO?).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/03/2012 09:36 PM
IMHO, their point is to land, and so that's what they are planning to do as soon as possible. Landing on the Moon isn't all that more expensive than orbiting it, it's just more risky. So, a reasonable strategy would be to start with a few unmanned landings to prove out the system fully, and then put paid customers on board.

An Apollo-style strategy of incremental manned flights only made sense because the Apollo vehicles had to be manually flown. That's not going to be the case for any modern lander. Especially they can be targeted at sites with high-res LROC imagery to prevent an Apollo 11-type situation where the autopilot flies into a hazard.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 12/03/2012 10:55 PM
IMHO, their point is to land, and so that's what they are planning to do as soon as possible. Landing on the Moon isn't all that more expensive than orbiting it, it's just more risky. So, a reasonable strategy would be to start with a few unmanned landings to prove out the system fully, and then put paid customers on board.

An Apollo-style strategy of incremental manned flights only made sense because the Apollo vehicles had to be manually flown. That's not going to be the case for any modern lander. Especially they can be targeted at sites with high-res LROC imagery to prevent an Apollo 11-type situation where the autopilot flies into a hazard.

That makes sense technically, but not commercially.  Unless there's a $$$ market for unmanned lunar landings that I'm missing, that means they need big capitalization.

I eagerly await their announcement.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ChefPat on 12/04/2012 12:53 AM
I wonder if Paragon/Thin Red Line have flown any hardware yet?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: neilh on 12/04/2012 01:23 AM
The Sun has now picked this up

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4677877/Richard-Branson-moon-trip-plan.html

If The Sun is correct in the details of its story, then we might have some idea of the mid- to long-term business case.  Virgin Galactic is all about space tourism, after all, and I can't see Mr Branson funding something  (no matter how cool) with no hope of some return on his investment.

FYI, the "Took a photo of the moon above Necker to help decide where to put the Virgin Galactic hotel!" quote the Sun references at the end  makes it sound like it's a recent remark from Branson, but it actually dates back to January:

http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/necker-moon
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/04/2012 01:42 AM
Yes, I wouldn't put much stock in anything a tabloid comes up with (and for the Americans here - which is most of you - the UK tabloids are about as raw as they get). Check out - but don't respond on here about it - the http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/ that's just finished. Ruthless doesn't cover it.

Anyhoo, I need my beauty sleep (tee hee), so let's keep this thread calm overnight. As my Grandma used to say, "It'll all come out in the wash" (the details will be forthcoming).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: cro-magnon gramps on 12/04/2012 01:56 AM
Yes, I wouldn't put much stock in anything a tabloid comes up with (and for the Americans here - which is most of you - the UK tabloids are about as raw as they get). Check out - but don't respond on here about it - the http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/ that's just finished. Ruthless doesn't cover it.

Anyhoo, I need my beauty sleep (tee hee), so let's keep this thread calm overnight. As my Grandma used to say, "It'll all come out in the wash" (the details will be forthcoming).

As my Grt Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK Mom used to say, "Its an ill wind that blows nobody some good." so I am looking at all this positively, that whatever happens, some good will come of it...

Gramps

ps it is more than beauty sleep, it will keep you around longer, working the news, like the honest journalist you are. For which we are greatful. "So What is the ONLINE sign doing on???" ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 12/04/2012 02:37 AM
Conjecture on likihood of a Baumgartner Zond shakedown?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 02:17 AM


(I can fully empathize with anyone who thinks it is foolish to spend all that money on the ISS and only use it for a few years.  Even so, I am not sure that LEO is a meaningful objective for NASA.  To quote our great leader, "We've been there before." )
Wasn't Obama referring to the Moon?

Yes, that is exactly the point.  If Obama's strategy is "been there, done that" then he should focus NASA funds on Mars missions and leave LEO for commercial investors.

(Although nothing in real life is ever that simple.)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: QuantumG on 12/05/2012 02:21 AM
Yes, that is exactly the point.  If Obama's strategy is "been there, done that" then he should focus NASA funds on Mars missions and leave LEO for commercial investors.

That's exactly what Buzz told him to do and what he announced, way back when.

What you're missing.. what so many space advocates continue to miss.. is that this isn't a dictatorship. Obama can neither take responsibility, nor take the blame, for the state of space policy in the US. It's all the result of multiple players, of which he is just a minor one.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 03:35 AM
If Branson was a pure businessman then I think that he would instead be investing in point-to-point suborbital transport, and then LEO tourism, which might become respectable niche markets within 25 years.
I see Lunar surface tourism as more like 50 years away.

However, if he is the first private (senior!) citizen to set foot on the Moon then that could put him in the history books, and be of immense PR value for his businesses.

But if he and his investors want to recoup their enormous investments then the only realistic potential near-term clients for a lunar transport service would be government-funded geologists, astronomers, and doctors performing basic research and exploration.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 12/05/2012 03:49 AM
What any of us think Branson would or should do is irrelevant at best.
(We do know that Stern has talked with Branson, and may still be talking with him.)
What Buzz told Obama isn't relative either, although that's not what QuantumG said.
This is about a specific private moon landing program, of which we may learn more on Friday.  Can we wait for that and hold to our Topic?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 04:09 AM
But its hard to see how you can scale up a plan for lunar ventures.   I guess you could start by doing flybys and/or setting up a station at L1, but I don’t see the a reasonable commercial market for it or a big lever to get government backing.


Really interesting question:  If a single lunar mission costs almost $1B, how many prototype test vehicles could they afford to manufacture and launch?

Possibly none.

I suspect that they might be able to manufacture, launch to LEO, and extensively test all of the required modules for the first lunar surface mission, and only proceed with TLI when everything checks out OK.  This might particularly make sense if the lander and other modules are reusable.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 04:27 AM
Sorry that this is on a tangent, but all the questions about ways to make any revenue from manned lunar missions brought to light a thought:

Forget NEO PGMs and water from the Lunar poles.

If a commercial space firm wants to generate real revenue from space they should find a way to expeditiously retrieve useful rocks and sample from Mars for the scientific community.

How many billions would the proposed NASA+ESA sample return missions have cost?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: joek on 12/05/2012 04:29 AM
But its hard to see how you can scale up a plan for lunar ventures.   I guess you could start by doing flybys and/or setting up a station at L1, but I don’t see the a reasonable commercial market for it or a big lever to get government backing.


Really interesting question:  If a single lunar mission costs almost $1B, how many prototype test vehicles could they afford to manufacture and launch?

Possibly none.

I suspect that they might be able to manufacture, launch to LEO, and extensively test all of the required modules for the first lunar surface mission, and only proceed with TLI when everything checks out OK.  This might particularly make sense if the lander and other modules are reusable.

That assumes they go it alone.  I suggest that there is a confluence that involves a private-government partnership where they (private) make an offer NASA (government) finds very difficult to refuse.

While I don't necessarily expect GoldenSpike to come out of the gate with such a proposal (at least publicly), I wouldn't be surprised if that is their expected end game, or if they've been shopping it among select government stakeholders.

Let's face it, government-sponsored-funded BLEO HSF has been facing hard times, and is likely to be facing harder times in the future.  A few big names putting money on the table and saying "we should go that-a-way" could have a significant influence on our direction--much more so than at any point in the past.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 12/05/2012 05:33 AM
Sorry that this is on a tangent, but all the questions about ways to make any revenue from manned lunar missions brought to light a thought:

Forget NEO PGMs and water from the Lunar poles.

If a commercial space firm wants to generate real revenue from space they should find a way to expeditiously retrieve useful rocks and sample from Mars for the scientific community.

How many billions would the proposed NASA+ESA sample return missions have cost?

This is not relevant. 
We don't know how this private moon landing will pay for itself but most of us agree NASA won't be their source of funding, for many reasons.  It doesn't matter how much it would cost NASA to do a sample return mission.  NASA is not going to buy moon rocks at $xE8/kg.
This is still off the topic of this particular private moon mission.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 06:07 AM
Great little documentary on the development of the Apollo Lunar Module:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=cwrXcuK4LgY
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/05/2012 08:33 AM

If a commercial space firm wants to generate real revenue from space they should find a way to expeditiously retrieve useful rocks and sample from Mars for the scientific community.

How many billions would the proposed NASA+ESA sample return missions have cost?


The estimated total cost of the Mars Sample Return missions was $9.6B.

Come up with a way to pull this off for $1B, and offer it to NASA+ESA for $5B.  A profit of $4B would not be too shabby...

Likewise, although NASA already has several hundred kilograms of Moon rocks from a half-dozen near-side equatorial locations, there are quite a few researchers who would be able to obtain multi-million dollar grants to pay for access to samples near the poles or from the far side.

But none of that would require a manned spacecraft...
   

http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/squyres-mars-communications-relay-orbiter-would-pass-decadal-survey-test-europa-also-a-possibility
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/05/2012 02:16 PM
Getting somewhat back on topic, lunar samples are just as valuable, if they come from the right locations, and are collected in the correct manner.

From orbital imagery, we can figure out the relative age relationship between events on the Moon. However, to get absolute dates, you have to have an actual sample on hand in a lab able to do radioactive dating (often Pb-Pb or Pb-U, as they have the longest half-lives). There are a number of high priority sites that were identified during Constellation, and most have since had LROC high-resolution mapping, if not a stereo pair sufficient to build a DEM.

Collecting samples does not require a manned spacecraft, but it comes very close. If your sample return is anything beyond a Luna-style handful of random regolith, you need a proper sample collection rover, something at least of the complexity of the MERs, but also able to survive lunar night. Plus, you also need a spacecraft to bring the samples back. If you want to duplicate the J-mission Apollo return (~100 kg over a wide area), then it's closer to an MSL-class rover plus a very large return vehicle. In the end, that will cost almost almost as much as just sending people.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/05/2012 02:26 PM
So everyone's aware, tomorrow we will open a new thread for the event. No word on a webcast at this time.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/05/2012 03:11 PM
Here's the pre-event presser.

There's no webcast and the call in line "only holds 50 people", so I'm not posting that number given it's for the media.

MEDIA ADVISORY

GOLDEN SPIKE COMPANY ANNOUNCEMENT ON COMMERCIAL HUMAN LUNAR EXPLORATION

Thursday, December 6, 2012

WHO: Golden Spike Company

WHAT: The Golden Spike Company (GSC), a U.S.-based commercial space company led by former NASA Executives, invites you to attend a game-changing announcement about the future of commercial human space travel to the Moon. President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade. The company will provide regular and reliable expeditions at prices that are a fraction of any lunar program ever conceived until now. There will be a media conference, which will be followed by a question and answer period.

WHEN: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (EST)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

 WHERE: The National Press Club

Bloomberg Room

529 14th Street, NW, 13th Floor

Washington, DC, 20045

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/05/2012 04:45 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: go4mars on 12/05/2012 05:09 PM
It's the fraction of cost part that grabs my eye.  Hopefully they don't mean 11/12.  Or 15/3.  ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/05/2012 05:39 PM
This is interesting.  Golden Spike will not be directly involved in lunar resource extraction themselves, but instead will be providing transport services for other people who wish to go to the Moon.  The "fraction of the cost" bit suggests that they will be heavily relying on SpaceX, but I don't know about the Lunar lander.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Comga on 12/05/2012 05:41 PM
"... planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon ..."

That sounds like a description of their product.
Not tourism, not PGMs, not water
There can only be a few customers who could pay adequately for that.
My guesses were incorrect.
We shall see tomorrow.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/05/2012 05:45 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
It actually wouldn't be that hard. Just need a lander. Everything else is relatively simple or not especially time-consuming.

Put the lander in LLO with Falcon Heavy (with hypergolic kick stage).

Launch Dragon (with hypergolic kick stage) on Falcon 9, launch Falcon Heavy with extended upper stage as a departure stage, rendezvous and do the TLI burn.

It might actually work out a little better to rendezvous at EML1/2 and use just 2 Falcon Heavy launches (need a little better performing lander, but should still be doable).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HMXHMX on 12/05/2012 06:12 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
It actually wouldn't be that hard. Just need a lander. Everything else is relatively simple or not especially time-consuming.

Put the lander in LLO with Falcon Heavy (with hypergolic kick stage).

Launch Dragon (with hypergolic kick stage) on Falcon 9, launch Falcon Heavy with extended upper stage as a departure stage, rendezvous and do the TLI burn.

It might actually work out a little better to rendezvous at EML1/2 and use just 2 Falcon Heavy launches (need a little better performing lander, but should still be doable).

They need more than just a lander.  The Dragon will require a new service module to burn into LLO and burn back to earth return at mission end.  They will also likely need a new transfer stage for the lander, since at four-place, it is going to be too heavy for a FH to boost intact to LLO (or so I surmise).

My predictions:

I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there. Assuming a storable lander, it can be parked in LLO for some time.   So if they wish, they can build an inventory of landers in anticipation of their annual mission model.  Also assuming new everything for each mission (i.e., Dragons to go on display post-flight in the home countries of sponsor nations), I'd estimate the 2012 dollar cost to be $250M for the launches, and perhaps $150-200M for the expendable elements (Dragon, SM, transfer stage and lander).  I'd bet SpaceX gets the lion's share of the feast for new element fabrication, obviously.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Bill White on 12/05/2012 06:13 PM
During the California Gold Rush, those who owned San Francisco based dry goods stores (and saloons!) had a far more secure revenue stream than those who actually went into the mountains and looked for gold.

Same was true for those who outfitted wagon trains in St. Louis or Kansas City.

Owning an EML Gateway and selling transportation and logistics to those who want to access the Moon is probably a better business model than actually trying to mine PGM or He3 directly.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Danderman on 12/05/2012 06:15 PM
The larger issue is not their architecture, nor the paint job on their lunar lander, but rather their strategy.

Assuming they have support from billionaires, is their strategy simply to execute a mission from existing customers, or is their mandate to use seed funding from investors to go out and find the money to execute a mission?

In other words are they still facing market and investor risks, or are they facing both of those AND the technical and programmatic risks?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: ugordan on 12/05/2012 06:17 PM
I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there.

Would a Centaur really be feasible at a SpaceX pad given how they have no LH2 infrastructure?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 12/05/2012 06:25 PM
"Routine". Cold War provided a breakneck budget power source for 2 landings per year. Space Adventures provided a sustainable value for 7 ISS visits / 8 years (.875 trips per year). imho 1 (private/small nation) every three years sounds like a reasonable, sustainable, hope. 1 Zond / 2 years perhaps. imho
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HMXHMX on 12/05/2012 06:55 PM
I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there.

Would a Centaur really be feasible at a SpaceX pad given how they have no LH2 infrastructure?

A few years ago they didn't have any LOX infrastructure, ether.  Maybe a  year to install...

Alternatively, GS could launch an Atlas with a Centaur that acts as a transfer stage, but that would be very expensive contrasted with using an FH, at least double the price.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: mrmandias on 12/05/2012 07:11 PM
It's the fraction of cost part that grabs my eye.  Hopefully they don't mean 11/12.  Or 15/3.  ;)

It means they expect heavy government subsidies.  :)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/05/2012 07:23 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
It actually wouldn't be that hard. Just need a lander. Everything else is relatively simple or not especially time-consuming.

Put the lander in LLO with Falcon Heavy (with hypergolic kick stage).

Launch Dragon (with hypergolic kick stage) on Falcon 9, launch Falcon Heavy with extended upper stage as a departure stage, rendezvous and do the TLI burn.

It might actually work out a little better to rendezvous at EML1/2 and use just 2 Falcon Heavy launches (need a little better performing lander, but should still be doable).

They need more than just a lander.  The Dragon will require a new service module to burn into LLO and burn back to earth return at mission end.  They will also likely need a new transfer stage for the lander, since at four-place, it is going to be too heavy for a FH to boost intact to LLO (or so I surmise).

My predictions:

I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there. Assuming a storable lander, it can be parked in LLO for some time.   So if they wish, they can build an inventory of landers in anticipation of their annual mission model.  Also assuming new everything for each mission (i.e., Dragons to go on display post-flight in the home countries of sponsor nations), I'd estimate the 2012 dollar cost to be $250M for the launches, and perhaps $150-200M for the expendable elements (Dragon, SM, transfer stage and lander).  I'd bet SpaceX gets the lion's share of the feast for new element fabrication, obviously.
Oh, yes, definitely a new service module. That's essentially what I meant by "hypergolic kick stage," even if I didn't say it explicitly.

I just didn't think it would be as complicated as a lander, not likely to be the pacing item for a 2020 mission.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/05/2012 07:28 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
It actually wouldn't be that hard. Just need a lander. Everything else is relatively simple or not especially time-consuming.

Put the lander in LLO with Falcon Heavy (with hypergolic kick stage).

Launch Dragon (with hypergolic kick stage) on Falcon 9, launch Falcon Heavy with extended upper stage as a departure stage, rendezvous and do the TLI burn.

It might actually work out a little better to rendezvous at EML1/2 and use just 2 Falcon Heavy launches (need a little better performing lander, but should still be doable).

They need more than just a lander.  The Dragon will require a new service module to burn into LLO and burn back to earth return at mission end.  They will also likely need a new transfer stage for the lander, since at four-place, it is going to be too heavy for a FH to boost intact to LLO (or so I surmise).

My predictions:

I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there. Assuming a storable lander, it can be parked in LLO for some time.   So if they wish, they can build an inventory of landers in anticipation of their annual mission model.  Also assuming new everything for each mission (i.e., Dragons to go on display post-flight in the home countries of sponsor nations), I'd estimate the 2012 dollar cost to be $250M for the launches, and perhaps $150-200M for the expendable elements (Dragon, SM, transfer stage and lander).  I'd bet SpaceX gets the lion's share of the feast for new element fabrication, obviously.
Single stage lander may actually be simpler/cheaper, plus could be reused in the future. Hypergolic refueling is done relatively commonly on ISS (though probably you'd do it differently than Russia does, to save mass). They do intend to do several missions and even a base, and this is an obvious way to make that a little more realistic, since you wouldn't need a new lander every time.

And a single stage lander has lower dry mass, other things being equal (dry mass is roughly proportional to fabrication costs). May even lower development costs.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HMXHMX on 12/05/2012 08:31 PM
President and CEO Dr. Alan Stern and Chairman of the Board Gerry Griffin will unveil GSC – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

By the end of the decade?!? Oh, boy! I can't wait to hear how they plan to do that!
It actually wouldn't be that hard. Just need a lander. Everything else is relatively simple or not especially time-consuming.

Put the lander in LLO with Falcon Heavy (with hypergolic kick stage).

Launch Dragon (with hypergolic kick stage) on Falcon 9, launch Falcon Heavy with extended upper stage as a departure stage, rendezvous and do the TLI burn.

It might actually work out a little better to rendezvous at EML1/2 and use just 2 Falcon Heavy launches (need a little better performing lander, but should still be doable).

They need more than just a lander.  The Dragon will require a new service module to burn into LLO and burn back to earth return at mission end.  They will also likely need a new transfer stage for the lander, since at four-place, it is going to be too heavy for a FH to boost intact to LLO (or so I surmise).

My predictions:

I think the mission is two FHs, one carrying a new (or possibly adapted Centaur IVF) transfer stage plus new lander and one carrying the Dragon and SM, both to rendezvous in LLO, and then a reprise of Apollo from there. Assuming a storable lander, it can be parked in LLO for some time.   So if they wish, they can build an inventory of landers in anticipation of their annual mission model.  Also assuming new everything for each mission (i.e., Dragons to go on display post-flight in the home countries of sponsor nations), I'd estimate the 2012 dollar cost to be $250M for the launches, and perhaps $150-200M for the expendable elements (Dragon, SM, transfer stage and lander).  I'd bet SpaceX gets the lion's share of the feast for new element fabrication, obviously.
Single stage lander may actually be simpler/cheaper, plus could be reused in the future. Hypergolic refueling is done relatively commonly on ISS (though probably you'd do it differently than Russia does, to save mass). They do intend to do several missions and even a base, and this is an obvious way to make that a little more realistic, since you wouldn't need a new lander every time.

And a single stage lander has lower dry mass, other things being equal (dry mass is roughly proportional to fabrication costs). May even lower development costs.

I think that is an interesting option for GS to consider.  But an SSTO lunar lander with storables will approach a Mass Ratio of 4, so they have some trades to perform.
Title: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: Warren Platts on 12/05/2012 10:15 PM
I'm thinking if this is going to more than a one-off stunt that doesn't go the way of Apollo, they're going to have to go with a reusable lander. At a billion USD a pop, they can't afford to be throwing those things away. That means they'll need an SSTO and refueling. Which also means they're going to need maximum Isp which in turn means LH2/LO2.

I would say go with something along the lines of the Masten Xeus lander in it's reusable form, which can have a 5 mT payload. Now, the Apollo LEM ascender module massed close to 5 mT, but more than half of that was propellant, so they could probably make a 4-man capsule and keep everything under 5 mT.

Then maybe some sort of reusable flying depot composed of 2 Centuar segments that could possibly double as space tug for the Dragon.

Basically, it would be a mini-version of the ULA architecture....


But of course there are many ways to skin this cat: any other ideas?
Title: Re: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: HappyMartian on 12/05/2012 10:52 PM
I'm thinking if this is going to more than a one-off stunt that doesn't go the way of Apollo, they're going to have to go with a reusable lander. At a billion USD a pop, they can't afford to be throwing those things away. That means they'll need an SSTO and refueling. Which also means they're going to need maximum Isp which in turn means LH2/LO2.

I would say go with something along the lines of the Masten Xeus lander in it's reusable form, which can have a 5 mT payload. Now, the Apollo LEM ascender module massed close to 5 mT, but more than half of that was propellant, so they could probably make a 4-man capsule and keep everything under 5 mT.

Then maybe some sort of reusable flying depot composed of 2 Centuar segments that could possibly double as space tug for the Dragon.

Basically, it would be a mini-version of the ULA architecture....


But of course there are many ways to skin this cat: any other ideas?

Find diverse sources of piles of money. When and wherever it is possible work with the Europeans, Russia, China, and Japan. Avoid NASA for the next four years. Focus on gaining initial hydrolox ISRU capability. Lean and mean.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/06/2012 12:05 AM
An article in MIT Technology Review pointed to this recent essay by Alan Stern and Gerry Griffin:  US Needs Near-term Results in Human Space Exploration

http://www.spacenews.com/article/us-needs-near-term-results-human-space-exploration
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/06/2012 01:03 AM
The key portion of that essay (in my opinion):

Quote
Pragmatism means exchanging more perfect solutions for more practical ones by using existing systems, modified to the least extent practical, to accelerate the pace of exploration.

We therefore urge an approach that obtains near-term results — i.e., human exploration beyond LEO — as quickly and as pragmatically as possible. In an era when budgets are shrinking, as are both public and political attention spans, we believe this course is a must for human space exploration in the United States.

Specifically, what does this course imply? It means two things:

Establishing a commercial crew capability to LEO and the international space station as rapidly as possible, in order to expeditiously free up resources within the human spaceflight budget for exploration, rather than expensive Soyuz seats.

Using the savings accrued by adopting commercial crew to jump-start human exploration beyond LEO before SLS is ready. This can be accomplished by developing orbital refueling for and then human-rating one or more existing rockets to carry out simple exploration missions — such as lunar/near-Earth object flybys and orbiters — using the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or other crewed spacecraft that can be ready by mid-decade.

So considering the drive to keep development and running costs down, basically Falcon Heavy and Dragon, with the Dragon mated to a lunar SSTO-capable "service module", and also utilizing propellant depots.
Title: Re: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: ARD on 12/06/2012 01:49 AM

But of course there are many ways to skin this cat: any other ideas?

For minimum development, I've personally always favored a Falcon Upper Stage with four SuperDracos mounted in pretty much the same way the ULA DTAL has its hydrolox thrusters.  A one-off Falcon Heavy with an upper stage modified in such a way should, by my reckoning, be capable of delivering 4 metric tons to the lunar surface.  Refueled at EML-2, it should have a pretty significant single-stage-to-surface-and-back cargo capacity. 

A stretch on the kerosene tank would mean that such a stage could be refueled with LOX on the surface, and replacing the SuperDracos with Kestrels could mean simplification of propellant use in much the same way that ULA's DTAL would use LH2/LOX for final landing.  But that would mean reopening the Kestrel production line. 

I feel bad to throw away LH2 from the future ice-cracking plant, but I suppose it could be used in experiments in regolith reduction. 

Hydrolox might be more efficient, but until ULA starts flying ACES, the Delta 5m upper stage and Centaur might not offer enough of a performance increase to justify it.  It would still be the next logical step in development, but to reduce costs, commonality with an existing LEO and GTO system is a plus. 

That's just my amateur view--please, rip into it. 
Title: Re: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: simonbp on 12/06/2012 03:00 AM
But of course there are many ways to skin this cat: any other ideas?

Personally, I've only ever skinned a cat once, so I wouldn't know.

We'll see tomorrow, but it sounds like small expendable depots might be their plan...
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: daveklingler on 12/06/2012 03:17 AM
Lunar cycler.
Title: Re: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: Nelson Bridwell on 12/06/2012 04:58 AM

We'll see tomorrow, but it sounds like small expendable depots might be their plan...

When the lowest cost per pound to orbit comes in units of 50+ mT, my non-expert guess is that propellant depots would be a non-essential complication for Lunar missions.

In order to hold down costs, which appears to be the main priority, they might choose to adopt a KISS (keep it simple), JIT (just in time), minimum launch mass strategy.

One approach might be to reuse everything that goes up and does not come back down, and deliver only the required fuel to spacecraft, refueling them only when and where they need it.  The last thing that they need is surplus fuel in their tanks, beyond reasonable safety margins.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Warren Platts on 12/06/2012 04:58 AM
But of course there are many ways to skin this cat: any other ideas?

Personally, I've only ever skinned a cat once, so I wouldn't know.

Oh gross! I was being metaphorical! Poor kitty! :P

Quote
We'll see tomorrow, but it sounds like small expendable depots might be their plan...

The expensive chess piece is going to be that manned lander. To refuel it, I see what you're saying: What's the difference between a tanker and a depot anyways, really? There's no reason why one of those simple, single-launch, dual-Centaur depots that Goff and Kutter proposed couldn't also double as a LEO to LLO tanker, I guess. But once you get it to Lunar orbit, is it worth the propellant required to send it back?

And before people complain about how cryogenic fuel transfer has never been done before, not to mention the boiloff, allow me to point out that the Centaur/RL-10 system already exists. This commonality could extend to the lander itself, as well, just like Zegler et al. were talking about back in the good old days of 2009, thus radically reducing costs and speeding up delivery time.

To build a hypergolic 3rd-stage/EDS/depot/tanker/lander system, it's going to be basically from scratch, and that means a lot of money and a lot of time that we (meaning the people would like to see Lunar return before the 50th anniversary of Apollo 17) don't have. It would be extremely foolish to build from scratch a low-Isp system when the high Isp system already exists IMHO.
Title: Re: Golden Spike to the Moon: How would YOU do it?
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 12/06/2012 06:02 AM
I'm thinking if this is going to more than a one-off stunt that doesn't go the way of Apollo, they're going to have to go with a reusable lander. At a billion USD a pop, they can't afford to be throwing those things away. That means they'll need an SSTO and refueling. Which also means they're going to need maximum Isp which in turn means LH2/LO2.

Boiloff can be included in the rocket equation by modelling it as a stage with an Isp of 1 and a delta-v that increases with time.

Quote
I would say go with something along the lines of the Masten Xeus lander in it's reusable form, which can have a 5 mT payload. Now, the Apollo LEM ascender module massed close to 5 mT, but more than half of that was propellant, so they could probably make a 4-man capsule and keep everything under 5 mT.

{snip}

The MMSEV has a mass of ~5 mT including 2 man crew, consumables and wheels.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 12/06/2012 06:04 AM
Did anyone see this link?  https://twitter.com/ikluft/statuses/190954016082108416

Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 08:57 AM
Did anyone see this link?  https://twitter.com/ikluft/statuses/190954016082108416

Does the tweeter in question speak for Masten or Golden Spike? Or is this just someone guessing aloud?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 09:08 AM
Did anyone see this link?  https://twitter.com/ikluft/statuses/190954016082108416

Does the tweeter in question speak for Masten or Golden Spike? Or is this just someone guessing aloud?

Tweet is from 13 Apr 12
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: dasmoth on 12/06/2012 10:05 AM
@GoldenSpikeCo have just changed their Twitter profile pic.  Now a railway track leading towards the moon -- guess logos can't get much more explicit than that!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 12/06/2012 10:24 AM
I've been wondering if their potential landing site is in a polar region. Why? If ice and volatiles are buried at the landing site or the Lander is a single stage, then there could be some of the same issues that were noted here:

"Introduction: It is unsafe or too risky to land human-class landers (>40 MT) on Martian soil without first constructing a mechanically competent surface, a landing pad."

And, "The need for landing pads is the consensus of the plume/soil research community after a decade of concentrated research, including experiments, physics-bases simulations, and mission analysis. This finding has not yet been communicated widely outside the community of researchers because the consensus has been achieved only recently, so both space architects and mission planners may be unaware of the seriousness of the problem."

And, "Prior missons to the Moon and Mars all successfully avoided the worst cratering regimes owing to their smaller size landers and/or environmental conditions where they were landing."

From: PRECURSOR ACTIVITIES TO SOLVE PLUME CRATERING PROBLEMS FOR HUMAN-CLASS MARS LANDERS.   By P. Metzger, P. Hintze and R. Mueller
At: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4359.pdf
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: DLR on 12/06/2012 10:46 AM
That depends on the lander. A horizontal lander like ULA's DTAL or Masten's XEUS, with its main engine in the back, would land on small descent thrusters which wouldn't produce a large plume.

(http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13206.0;attach=372442;image)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 11:02 AM
That depends on the lander. A horizontal lander like ULA's DTAL or Masten's XEUS, with its main engine in the back, would land on small descent thrusters which wouldn't produce a large plume.

(http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13206.0;attach=372442;image)

What's the idea of Xeus, where's the payload?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Robert Thompson on 12/06/2012 11:40 AM
The payload of Xeus is the idea.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 11:55 AM
What's the idea of Xeus, where's the payload?

I'm presuming it's a crew lander and would carry the mission cargo (scientific instruments and an Apollo-style 'bed frame' rover) along with its crew.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 12:01 PM
What's the idea of Xeus, where's the payload?

I'm presuming it's a crew lander and would carry the mission cargo (scientific instruments and an Apollo-style 'bed frame' rover) along with its crew.

On top of the Centaur?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: HappyMartian on 12/06/2012 12:31 PM
That depends on the lander. A horizontal lander like ULA's DTAL or Masten's XEUS, with its main engine in the back, would land on small descent thrusters which wouldn't produce a large plume.

(http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13206.0;attach=372442;image)

An an open-cab lightweight horizontal Lander might work out. Ice and frozen volatiles do give one pause for thought about the impact results of even small rocket plumes.

A lightweight Skycrane stage landing process might work in polar regions, and then the landed ascent stage is used for the launch from the Lunar surface... Maybe that is too complicated.

Keep the Lander lightweight. Send two Landers, with the one carrying cargo going first, and the second one carrying the astronauts...


Note:

"The final Human Lunar Return study of 1996 was the ultimate cut-rate fasterbettercheaper manned lunar mission - requiring only two shuttle and three Proton launches, and landing two crew at Aristarchus in an open-cab lander. Total cost $2.5 billion; total time to achieve, five years."
From: Human Lunar Return  American manned lunar base. Study 1996.
At: http://www.astronautix.com/craft/humeturn.htm


And:

Comparison of Staging Strategies (assumes mid to high latitude landing) on Page 12 of:
Human Lunar Exploration Mission Architectures  LPI Lunar Knowledge Requirements Workshop    March 1-2, 2004
At: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar_knowledge/connolly.pdf
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: DLR on 12/06/2012 12:39 PM
XEUS is only a technology testbed. I suppose any space-rated version would carry the cargo in front of the Centaur, not on top, for easy access to the surface.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 12:49 PM
XEUS is only a technology testbed. I suppose any space-rated version would carry the cargo in front of the Centaur, not on top, for easy access to the surface.

Yes, there's some footage on the spacevidcast website about this where the SEV is mounted in front of the centaur stage.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 12/06/2012 12:50 PM
Outside of the space community the response would more than likely be this...

http://www.socialcritic.net/first-landing-on-the-moon/
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 01:58 PM
Outside of the space community the response would more than likely be this...

http://www.socialcritic.net/first-landing-on-the-moon/

I don't know.  The response, in the media at least, to the first operational flights of Dragon don't seem to mesh with that cynicism.

What I suspect will happen is that, with the first achievement of every milestone, there will be a little spike of interest: "Oh, a private company is doing that instead of NASA? Cool!" It'll never be an Apple-style customer-cult but it will make people nod and make a little note in their 'the world is shaped like this' mental index cards.  It certainly won't change their lives but, if asked, most will be able to say: "Yeah, there's that bunch of guys who are trying to go to the Moon, aren't there? They're already doing [$last_milestone]! Whodathunkit?"

Maybe it will even make the rich and ambitious wonder if there is money to be made from these new capabilities and worlds.

The real issue, in terms of public response, is that it will put pressure on NASA to be seen to be achieving something in the field of HSF.  As unfair as it would be, people would point to a future Golden Spike that is achieving stuff and ask why NASA isn't doing it too.  Politicians might even start asking why NASA is spending a google bucks to build its own rockets when an alternative is available off-the-shelf (even if that isn't strictly true).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: StephenB on 12/06/2012 02:20 PM
It seems to me that a private company gets a bit of a pass on criticism by some that money spend on spaceflight could be better spent elsewhere, compared to NASA. A little unfair for NASA, I think.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: StephenB on 12/06/2012 02:27 PM
Jeff Foust (New Space Journal): What to look for in today’s Golden Spike announcement (http://www.newspacejournal.com/2012/12/06/what-to-look-for-in-todays-golden-spike-announcement/).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2012 02:35 PM
Jeff's the good sort.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: JohnFornaro on 12/06/2012 02:57 PM
The key portion of that essay (in my opinion):

Quote
Pragmatism means exchanging more perfect solutions for more practical ones by using existing systems, modified to the least extent practical, to accelerate the pace of exploration.

We therefore urge an approach that obtains near-term results — i.e., human exploration beyond LEO — as quickly and as pragmatically as possible. ...

Specifically, what does this course imply? It means two things:

Establishing a commercial crew capability to LEO and the international space station as rapidly as possible...

Using the savings accrued for ... developing orbital refueling for and then human-rating one or more existing rockets to carry out simple exploration missions - such as lunar/near-Earth object flybys and orbiters - using the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or other crewed spacecraft that can be ready by mid-decade.

So considering the drive to keep development and running costs down, basically Falcon Heavy and Dragon, with the Dragon mated to a lunar SSTO-capable "service module", and also utilizing propellant depots.

Alan Stern and Gerry Griffin are saying exactly what I'm saying about a pragmatic approach.  The downside is that other programs, like planetary science, may need to take a temporary back seat, so that this infrastructure can be built with some public funds.  We need to get on creating a new cis-lunar economy.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 12/06/2012 02:58 PM
Outside of the space community the response would more than likely be this...

http://www.socialcritic.net/first-landing-on-the-moon/

I don't know.  The response, in the media at least, to the first operational flights of Dragon don't seem to mesh with that cynicism.

What I suspect will happen is that, with the first achievement of every milestone, there will be a little spike of interest: "Oh, a private company is doing that instead of NASA? Cool!" It'll never be an Apple-style customer-cult but it will make people nod and make a little note in their 'the world is shaped like this' mental index cards.  It certainly won't change their lives but, if asked, most will be able to say: "Yeah, there's that bunch of guys who are trying to go to the Moon, aren't there? They're already doing [$last_milestone]! Whodathunkit?"

Maybe it will even make the rich and ambitious wonder if there is money to be made from these new capabilities and worlds.

The real issue, in terms of public response, is that it will put pressure on NASA to be seen to be achieving something in the field of HSF.  As unfair as it would be, people would point to a future Golden Spike that is achieving stuff and ask why NASA isn't doing it too.  Politicians might even start asking why NASA is spending a google bucks to build its own rockets when an alternative is available off-the-shelf (even if that isn't strictly true).
We’ll find out soon enough Ben. The biggest news I heard today was that Justin Bieber was shut out of a Grammy nomination on this side of the pond. Now if he were to go and “Tweet” from the Moon maybe it’ll get some headlines... ;D
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2012 03:01 PM
Confirmed there's still an embargo, but they have sent out a presser now. Someone's bound to jump, but one ALWAYS respects an embargo schedule. (Says me, who once jumped after getting the wrong timezone on something I can't remember five years ago :D)

Our article is less from the presser (apart from some quotes) and more from background phone interviews with GS (paraphrased as content), so we're good even if someone does jump.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: BrightLight on 12/06/2012 03:07 PM
we manly men are patiently waiting with our plaid shirts and cigars, no churlish, girlish or any other kinds of screams from us!  ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 03:28 PM

First videos/pictures from Goldenspike Company:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hoSSmW27xs&feature=plcp
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 03:35 PM
@ apace,

I don't think that's the lander; it's too small - two-seats at best and no cargo capacity worth talking about.  I think that it's a hopper, a point-to-point suborbital transporter to use instead of a rover.

If it is a lander, then expect GS to stage from LLO with short-term 'excursions' for tourists or technical crews to robot ground stations.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 03:36 PM
@ apace,
If it is a lander, then expect GS to stage from LLO with short-term 'excursions' for tourists or technical crews to robot ground stations.

Had the same idea, but it's from their promotional video... we will see ;-)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: BrightLight on 12/06/2012 03:39 PM
Without scale, it looks like a parking meter
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Zed_Noir on 12/06/2012 03:40 PM
@ apace,

I don't think that's the lander; it's too small - two-seats at best and no cargo capacity worth talking about.  I think that it's a hopper, a point-to-point suborbital transporter to use instead of a rover.

If it is a lander, then expect GS to stage from LLO with short-term 'excursions' for tourists or technical crews to robot ground stations.
Might be a precursor mini lander for a HD 3D camera to show the touchdown.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Dappa on 12/06/2012 03:41 PM
Those astros are going to need some sunblock!
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 03:42 PM
Without scale, it looks like a parking meter

There is a scale; look at the picture and you can see a single astronaut behind and maybe 10 body lengths away from the vehicle, whatever it is.  You can also see what is definitely a handle on the side of the transparent bubble that suggests some kind of unpressurised hatch.

I'd guess that the bubble is maybe the size as the crew compartment on the old '50s-era Bell-22 helicopter.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: BrightLight on 12/06/2012 03:51 PM
Without scale, it looks like a parking meter

There is a scale; look at the picture and you can see a single astronaut behind and maybe 10 body lengths away from the vehicle, whatever it is.  You can also see what is definitely a handle on the side of the transparent bubble that suggests some kind of unpressurised hatch.

I'd guess that the bubble is maybe the size as the crew compartment on the old '50s-era Bell-22 helicopter.
I was trying to make a joke...
However, without belaboring this, the image is interesting but without context its hard to understand what that is.
The idea of a simplified - astronaut is the space vehicle - approach is interesting, logical, risky, possibly the lowest cost solution but begs the question - lands on the moon and then what, IMHO other infrastructure is required. I am sure more to follow.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Owen on 12/06/2012 03:51 PM
You can also see what is definitely a handle on the side of the transparent bubble that suggests some kind of unpressurised hatch.

Ignoring the pointlessness of dissecting a CG image for technical details, but it looked like a hinge to me when I first noticed  :).
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Rocket Science on 12/06/2012 04:04 PM
That looks like Deep Rover to me...

http://www.yvesgladu.com/voir_photos_r_HUMAN%20ACTIVITY_s_MARINE%20TECHNOLOGY_numero_294_nompage_DEEP%20ROVER%20SUBMERSIBLE%20JULES%20ET%20JIM.html?newlang=2

http://www.mtsmuv.org/Tourism%20Subs.htm
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 04:25 PM
Board of Directors:
Gerry Griffin
Alan Stern
Cindy Conrad
Esther Dyson
James R. French
Doug Griffith
David Lackner
Michel Loucks
Taber MacCallum
Max Vozoff

Board of Advisors:
Conrad Anker
Bobby Block
Michael Bostick
Andrew Chaikin
Jonathan Clark, M.D.
Nancy Conrad
Newt Gingrich
Wayne Hale
Homer Hickam
Chris Kemp
Stephen Mackwell
Tod Mesirow
Mike Okuda
Bill Richardson
Bob Walker
Zak Williams

Lunar Lander System Team:
• Armadillo Aerospace
• International Lunar Observatory Association
• Masten Space Systems
• Moon Express
• Paragon Space Development Corp.
• Southwest Research Institute
• Space Florida
• United Launch Alliance
• Zero Point Frontiers Corp.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/06/2012 04:30 PM
Newt Gingrich
Wayne Hale
Homer Hickam

That's a combination!

Few other notes: Southwest Research is Stern's day job. Stephen Mackwell the director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, just down the road from JSC.

Zero Point is a small company in Huntsville, last heard working on LauncherOne.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 04:35 PM
Lunar Lander System Team:
• Armadillo Aerospace
• International Lunar Observatory Association
• Masten Space Systems
• Moon Express
• Paragon Space Development Corp.
• Southwest Research Institute
• Space Florida
• United Launch Alliance
• Zero Point Frontiers Corp.

Interesting to see ULA involved.  Could we see the ACES system appear in some form? ULA's lunar plan is certainly what I'd consider a 'railroad' to the Moon.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 04:37 PM
Lunar Lander System Team:
• Armadillo Aerospace
• International Lunar Observatory Association
• Masten Space Systems
• Moon Express
• Paragon Space Development Corp.
• Southwest Research Institute
• Space Florida
• United Launch Alliance
• Zero Point Frontiers Corp.

Interesting to see ULA involved.  Could we see the ACES system appear in some form? ULA's lunar plan is certainly what I'd consider a 'railroad' to the Moon.

Looks like. ULA for the kickstage, Armadillo/Masten/Paragon for the lander... and the capsule should be Dragon ;-)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/06/2012 04:37 PM
Yes, and Space Florida would confirm a CCAFS or KSC launch.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2012 04:38 PM
Got to be the worst embargo ever this. ;D Not complaining, it's very clever to sneak some stuff out already and they have been helpful.

Still got a lot in the article that's not out there.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Bugfix on 12/06/2012 04:39 PM
Quote
Tod Mesirow
Motion picture producer,
co-founder of Five by Five Productions
Mike Okuda
Hollywood graphic and set designer
(“Star Trek”)

That'll put the conspiracy theorists into overdrive.  :D
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: apace on 12/06/2012 04:39 PM
Got to be the worst embargo ever this ;D
Still got a lot in the article that's not out there.

Haha, that's crowd-sourcing ;-)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/06/2012 04:44 PM
So, will the lander have an LCARS interface? ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 04:47 PM
So, will the lander have an LCARS interface? ;)

Mike Okuda is a graphics designer by trade but he's also a technologist who created a lot of the theoretical underpinnings of the Star Trek universe and made  them relatively internally consistent.  I suspect that he has a technical/engineering background.

In any case, if anyone doesn't think he designed the 'Golden Spike' logo, they're fooling themselves. ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2012 04:47 PM
Remember, I'm locking this thread and then starting a new thread very shortly.

I'm sure it'll be a mix of cheering and booing.....should be fun :/
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Owen on 12/06/2012 04:50 PM
So, will the lander have an LCARS interface? ;)
Take a closer look at what the astronaut is holding in the video.  ;)
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: jongoff on 12/06/2012 04:53 PM
Another embargo buster?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/golden-spike-space-tourism-company-to-the-moon/2012/12/06/52eedcc8-3fc3-11e2-ae43-cf491b837f7b_story.html

More details. Selling seats on a two-person lander for $750M each, marketing it to countries, corporations, and the super-rich. No details yet on investors or on any interest/pre-sales to customers.

~Jon
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: StephenB on 12/06/2012 04:58 PM
Hm, both Masten and Armadillo and no mention of SpaceX (yet). Maybe they are going 100% ULA?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: simonbp on 12/06/2012 04:58 PM
$1.5 billion per landing, so about what NASA is having to scrape from the bottom of the barrel to pay for the next Mars rover.
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 12/06/2012 04:59 PM
Hm, both Masten and Armadillo and no mention of SpaceX (yet). Maybe they are going 100% ULA?

"CST-200" deep space version maybe?
Title: Re: Private Moon Landing in the works?
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2012 05:00 PM
Locked.

New thread, with the article, out of embargo:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30549.0