Author Topic: Moon rocks/regolith as a profitable resource?  (Read 406 times)

Online EnigmaSCADA

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Moon rocks/regolith as a profitable resource?
« on: 06/13/2018 02:11 AM »
Most of what we talk about in terms of valuable resources extracted outside of Earth is lofty/far-off ideas of gathering tons of precious metals from asteroids or the necessities of space travel/existence (eg. rocket fuel & water).

But how much money could be made by simply sending a moon-excavator-buggy to the moon, digging up a few/10's/100's of tons, return them to Earth, and sell to the highest bidder? I'm sure there are plenty of people who would pay significant amounts to have a plain old moon rock on their desk or mantle. Other potential buyers, Universities/Sci Institutions. I don't think this would be sustainable beyond a certain amount as there's no intrinsic value beyond bragging rights, wealth signaling, and some basic research. But I also imagine it would take a not so insignificant amount to reach that saturation point where people would scoff at a moon pebble the way they do a penny on the sidewalk.

What do you think the actual market rate would be for a kilo of the moon were this to start happening at about a few tens of tons per year? Obviously there'd be plenty of scammers peddling dirty beach sand to suckers, but the point would be that you buy the real cheese from the company that went out there to fetch it, with a certificate of authenticity and all.

If this were simply a secondary reason to developing a lunar lander & excavator, don't you think it'd be worthwhile/profitable thing to attempt? I do, but I haven't gotten past the day dream stage of consideration so...caveat emptor.

PS: I'm thinking of this as a robotic mission, for the expediency.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2018 02:13 AM by EnigmaSCADA »

Online QuantumG

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Re: Moon rocks/regolith as a profitable resource?
« Reply #1 on: 06/13/2018 02:45 AM »
There's probably single digit millions in it before the bottom falls out. Launch costs are falling, but it's still a big ask to do any lunar mission for that little, let alone a sample return mission.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Online envy887

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Re: Moon rocks/regolith as a profitable resource?
« Reply #2 on: 06/13/2018 11:00 PM »
There's probably single digit millions in it before the bottom falls out. Launch costs are falling, but it's still a big ask to do any lunar mission for that little, let alone a sample return mission.
Based on what? Is there a comparable market to use as a basis for an estimate?

How large would you say the market is for, oh, I don't know... Exorbitantly priced name brand propane torches, just as an example?

Offline speedevil

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Re: Moon rocks/regolith as a profitable resource?
« Reply #3 on: 06/13/2018 11:29 PM »
It all depends on $.

If you look at the launch prices of BFR, and take the '$5M' as reasonable for example, spaceXs landing cost on earth for many tons of lunar material would be $250-1000 per kg. (for launching a filled BFS to the moon, offloading the fuel to a tanker in orbit, landing, loading moon rock, taking off, refilling, burning for earth).
At the price implied by P2P, more like $25-100/kg.

If you do lunar ISRU for oxygen only, you can perhaps drop that to $7-30/kg.
This is cheaper than some expensive decorative flooring, with some margin for profit.

At this price, the market could be quite large.
I would like a kilo moon rock, and would pay perhaps $500 for it.


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