Author Topic: NASA-Funded Study on Low-Cost Public-Private Return to the Moon  (Read 32831 times)

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3558
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2126
  • Likes Given: 2535
A 100mt production of water from a source with 5% concentration by mass that exists only in the first 10cm of regolith depth would require a processor/digger that digs a 1m wide swath to travel at .7cm per minute or 2.5m/hr. This is using a digger processor that rolls out an umbilical that provides power and has a tube to pump back water to the storage and power facilities on the crater rim. The processor would dig up the 10cm's of regolith 1m wide process it cool it back down and then deposit it back onto the surface.

This is an example that 100mt of water mined in 1 year is not a very high rate for a small machine. Water produced is 190ml/minute so the tube in the umbilical would not have to be very large ~1cm diameter at most for low pressure levels for significant volume.

What I am saying is a single crawler processor machine can easily produce water at this rate. It is only then a matter of additional power to support more crawler processors or ones that cut a wider swath 2m, 5m or even 10m to greatly increase production over 10 years to 5000mt/year. With a fully reusable Lunar lander Xeus based on the Vulcan ACES doing 20 round trips per year carrying 100mt of prop per trip to EML2 making available 2000mt of prop/year at EML2 for interplanetary HSF missions.

All of this is probably doable (just the mining equipment and operations part) with $2.4B in investments (~$1.2 for development and exploration, and $1.2B for mining systems and deployment) spent over 15 years. At 20 years total profits have reach $2.35B on the total investments of $2.4B at a water sale price at Lunar surface of $500/kg.

Estimated price of prop (LH2/LOX) at EML2 to be $2,600/kg. Best price for prop from using a FHFT reusable at $75M per launch (15mt per launch delivered to EML2 at a time) is $5,000/kg at EML2. So the price is durable over long period possibly as long as 20 years of operations until new LV's with >1/2 the costs of $/kg or other sources (asteriods) are developed. Even then value of water and prop on Lunar surface would still be under any other competitor for possibly longer than even 20 years of operations. 10 years of operations at 5000mt/year at $500/kg price for water at a 20% profit margin is $5B in PROFIT or a revenue amount of $2.5B/year. This would not be a small company.

You're glossing over all the hard details of the "processor/digger".  Mining machinery on Earth requires a lot of human labor to do cleaning and maintenance.  The cleaning requires water.  The machinery requires lubrication and hydraulic fluids.  It requires spare parts.  It requires periodic disassembly and reassembly.  And that doesn't even count the thermal and vacuum conditions lunar mining machines would require.

We're not talking about a rover that just drives over the surface.  Once you're talking about processing significant amounts of material you're entering an entirely different realm.

We haven't even really started trying to develop this kind of technology.  There's no telling at this point how much it would cost or how much infrastructure it would require.

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3558
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2126
  • Likes Given: 2535
I generally don't think the entire operation is done by one company. And biggest company maybe the company that sells electrical power at lunar surface. So it's either solar or nuclear- probably solar.
The only thing this company is doing is mining and selling the water. Someone else 1) provides power, 2)store the water and 3)manufactures (splits the water) LH2/LOX. Then another transports probably a vehicle like Xeus from Lunar surface to EML2. Another provides habitats and another general supply services (food, parts, etc). That's a possible 7 companies. Not counting launch providers and EML2 infrastructure related systems and services.

I can't see how it could be viable to have separate companies for those stages of the process until the scale is really huge, so it can support multiple companies at each stage.  Otherwise, you don't have competition at each stage, so any one company in the pipeline can hold the others hostage.  No sensible business leader is going to let his or her company get stuck in a situation like that.

No, it has to be one company doing all the stages of lunar surface activity.

If it even makes sense to mine anything on the moon for use it orbit, which is highly unlikely until the distant future when there's a huge off-Earth infrastructure.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3291
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1694
  • Likes Given: 192
A 100mt production of water from a source with 5% concentration by mass that exists only in the first 10cm of regolith depth would require a processor/digger that digs a 1m wide swath to travel at .7cm per minute or 2.5m/hr. This is using a digger processor that rolls out an umbilical that provides power and has a tube to pump back water to the storage and power facilities on the crater rim. The processor would dig up the 10cm's of regolith 1m wide process it cool it back down and then deposit it back onto the surface.

This is an example that 100mt of water mined in 1 year is not a very high rate for a small machine. Water produced is 190ml/minute so the tube in the umbilical would not have to be very large ~1cm diameter at most for low pressure levels for significant volume.

What I am saying is a single crawler processor machine can easily produce water at this rate. It is only then a matter of additional power to support more crawler processors or ones that cut a wider swath 2m, 5m or even 10m to greatly increase production over 10 years to 5000mt/year. With a fully reusable Lunar lander Xeus based on the Vulcan ACES doing 20 round trips per year carrying 100mt of prop per trip to EML2 making available 2000mt of prop/year at EML2 for interplanetary HSF missions.

All of this is probably doable (just the mining equipment and operations part) with $2.4B in investments (~$1.2 for development and exploration, and $1.2B for mining systems and deployment) spent over 15 years. At 20 years total profits have reach $2.35B on the total investments of $2.4B at a water sale price at Lunar surface of $500/kg.

Estimated price of prop (LH2/LOX) at EML2 to be $2,600/kg. Best price for prop from using a FHFT reusable at $75M per launch (15mt per launch delivered to EML2 at a time) is $5,000/kg at EML2. So the price is durable over long period possibly as long as 20 years of operations until new LV's with >1/2 the costs of $/kg or other sources (asteriods) are developed. Even then value of water and prop on Lunar surface would still be under any other competitor for possibly longer than even 20 years of operations. 10 years of operations at 5000mt/year at $500/kg price for water at a 20% profit margin is $5B in PROFIT or a revenue amount of $2.5B/year. This would not be a small company.

You're glossing over all the hard details of the "processor/digger".  Mining machinery on Earth requires a lot of human labor to do cleaning and maintenance.  The cleaning requires water.  The machinery requires lubrication and hydraulic fluids.  It requires spare parts.  It requires periodic disassembly and reassembly.  And that doesn't even count the thermal and vacuum conditions lunar mining machines would require.

We're not talking about a rover that just drives over the surface.  Once you're talking about processing significant amounts of material you're entering an entirely different realm.

We haven't even really started trying to develop this kind of technology.  There's no telling at this point how much it would cost or how much infrastructure it would require.
Correct.
The technical risk elements outnumber the certainties. I was thinking of a development period of 10 years before any water is produced during which most of the $2.4B investment funds needed just on the mining systems is spent. A lot of other things have to be in place before mining starts as well: power, storage, habitats, reusable lander, EML2 station, tugs...

This means that water production and the next item prop production would not be available NET 2026 and probably nearly 2030. So basing costs of operations in the 2020's on use of Lunar source prop is not realistic.

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
I generally don't think the entire operation is done by one company. And biggest company maybe the company that sells electrical power at lunar surface. So it's either solar or nuclear- probably solar.
The only thing this company is doing is mining and selling the water. Someone else 1) provides power, 2)store the water and 3)manufactures (splits the water) LH2/LOX. Then another transports probably a vehicle like Xeus from Lunar surface to EML2. Another provides habitats and another general supply services (food, parts, etc). That's a possible 7 companies. Not counting launch providers and EML2 infrastructure related systems and services.

I can't see how it could be viable to have separate companies for those stages of the process until the scale is really huge, so it can support multiple companies at each stage.  Otherwise, you don't have competition at each stage, so any one company in the pipeline can hold the others hostage.  No sensible business leader is going to let his or her company get stuck in a situation like that.

No, it has to be one company doing all the stages of lunar surface activity.

If it even makes sense to mine anything on the moon for use it orbit, which is highly unlikely until the distant future when there's a huge off-Earth infrastructure.
Well you start by making lunar rocket fuel for leaving the Moon, then making lunar rocket fuel for landing on the surface of the Moon, and finally lunar rocket fuel [and lunar water, and LOX in terms of the rocket fuel] for high earth and Mars orbit.***

So a customer for the beginning of lunar rocket fuel production could be lunar tourists, lunar sample return/lunar exploration {for mining something other than water- iron, PGM, or whatever].
So lunar sample return is bringing tons of lunar sample back to earth and selling them at price of somewhere around price of gold per gram- your market is general public- and people who buy samples because they want to support exploitation of space [and they get piece of the moon for what one could call a donation- or like Kickstarter] also this can also be a collectible type market- same people who buy baseball cards, etc. So it's baseball card with small piece of the Moon. Primary market is to educational and research- and give significant discount to educational institutions, and these include elementary schools [private or public, US domestic and rest of the world], With serious research one is selling cores and documentation [kind of how do archeologically dig].
Of course lunar tourism could some people involved with business of returning lunar samples to Earth, and as general matter, probably all tourists would bring back some amount of lunar sample. So every tourist would back say less than 10 kg, whereas in comparison this business would involve removing more than 1000 kg. Or tourist may travel few km and take back small sample or test same equipment, take pictures, or spend the time in whatever fashion.

So the focus starts with return rocket fuel. And assumption is that NASA has already explored the Moon to determine if and where there is minable water. And based upon this information, lunar power company could figure where to generate electrical power- so say at a peak of ethereal light at either of the poles.
So electrical power company has get the needed infrastructure to generate electrical power and needs customers buy the power, and wants a way to get more electrical power on Moon at cheaper costs- or buy lunar rocket fuel at lunar orbit to land on the Moon. So could start with say 10 to 50 KW, with some plan to increase to 1 MW or more in coming months and years.

Also I assuming there is operational depot in LEO which being supplied with rocket fuel and one can use this technology experience gained to establish a depot in Lunar orbit- and have a clue of how much it will cost.
Also of course, NASA has already spent about 40 billion dollars exploring Moon which *probably* includes a few crewed landings on the Moon. So one already has variety of robotic missions flown and and some vehicle which landed crew on the Moon. Or a private sector which wants to sell them to parties other than NASA. And considering this would the plan, the private sector at least can hope it can continue production
of what NASA buys- which means NASA could get lower price from the private sector- because what there doing is the start of their business rather than a limited use by NASA.

***edit. A reason one ships lunar rocket fuel to lunar orbit is to increase the demand per year of lunar water and so you can reuse lunar lander. And increasing market share further  is why one ships it to high earth and Mars. In first year of mining lunar water you could mine less than 50 tons and get to production
rate of 100 tons per year. To get to 100 tons per year or more, probably need to ship rocket fuel to lunar orbit. And mine water and make rocket fuel based upon how demand there is. If you sell 500 tons per year, you ramp up to that production level [invest more money to increase to that capacity]. If for example there was 500 tons demand which included High earth- it depend on cost to make it. It possible that rocket fuel [water and/or LOX] can be sent from Earth at lower price than you can sell it at- so can't increase your market. But it's going to cost more to ship LOX to low lunar orbit from earth and cheaper to send from the Moon to low lunar orbit as compared to high earth [or Mars].
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 02:43 AM by gbaikie »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3291
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1694
  • Likes Given: 192
I generally don't think the entire operation is done by one company. And biggest company maybe the company that sells electrical power at lunar surface. So it's either solar or nuclear- probably solar.
The only thing this company is doing is mining and selling the water. Someone else 1) provides power, 2)store the water and 3)manufactures (splits the water) LH2/LOX. Then another transports probably a vehicle like Xeus from Lunar surface to EML2. Another provides habitats and another general supply services (food, parts, etc). That's a possible 7 companies. Not counting launch providers and EML2 infrastructure related systems and services.

I can't see how it could be viable to have separate companies for those stages of the process until the scale is really huge, so it can support multiple companies at each stage.  Otherwise, you don't have competition at each stage, so any one company in the pipeline can hold the others hostage.  No sensible business leader is going to let his or her company get stuck in a situation like that.

No, it has to be one company doing all the stages of lunar surface activity.

If it even makes sense to mine anything on the moon for use it orbit, which is highly unlikely until the distant future when there's a huge off-Earth infrastructure.
Well you start by making lunar rocket fuel for leaving the Moon, then making lunar rocket fuel for landing on the surface of the Moon, and finally lunar rocket fuel for high earth and Mars orbit.

So a customer for the beginning of lunar rocket fuel production could be lunar tourists, lunar sample return/lunar exploration {for mining something other than water- iron, PGM, or whatever].
So lunar sample return is bringing tons of lunar sample back to earth and selling them at price of somewhere around price of gold per gram- your market is general public- and people who buy samples because they want to support exploitation of space [and they get piece of the moon for what one could a donation] also this can also be a collectable type market- same people who buy baseball cards, etc. So it's baseball card with small piece of the Moon. Primary market is to educational and research- and give significant discount to educational institutions, and these include elementary schools [private or public, US domestic and rest of the world], With serious research one selling cores and documentation [kind of how do archeologically dig].
Of course lunar tourism could some people involved with business of returning lunar samples to Earth, and as general matter, probably all tourists would bring back some amount of lunar sample. So every tourist would back say less than 10 kg, whereas in comparison this business would involve removing more than 1000 kg. Or tourist may travel few km and take back small sample or test same equipment, take pictures, or spend the time in whatever fashion.

So the focus starts with return rocket fuel. And assumption is that NASA has already explored the Moon to determine if and where there is minable water. And based upon this information, lunar power company could figure where to generate electrical power- so say at a peak of ethereal light at either of the poles.
So electrical power company has get the needed infrastructure to generate electrical power and needs customers buy the power, and wants a way to get more electrical power on Moon at cheaper costs- or buy lunar rocket fuel at lunar orbit to land on the Moon. So could start with say 10 to 50 KW, with some plan to increase to 1 MW or more in coming months and years.

Also I assuming there is operational depot in LEO which being supplied with rocket fuel and one can use this technology experience gained to establish a depot in Lunar orbit- and have a clue of how much it will cost.
The problem is that water mining needs a minimal infrastructure in place: power, habitats (desirable but not absolutely required, it just makes the maintenance equation easier), propellant depots, tugs, landers...

Once water and propellant are produced this enables a rapid expansion of the existing infrastructure which then enables expansion of the production capability for water and prop. With cyclic almost infinite expansion. As expansion occurs so does the breadth of capabilities into new infrastructure and services not previously existing: tourism, materials (metals, regolith for radiation shielding), solar cell manufacturing, structures manufacturing, SPS, ...

So yes a little bit of water and prop production can achieve a lot in the long run, but you need some infrastructure first before that first mt of water produced. Several gallons will be produced earlier in experiments to test technology assumptions but is not an operational production of water.

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
Quote
The problem is that water mining needs a minimal infrastructure in place: power, habitats (desirable but not absolutely required, it just makes the maintenance equation easier), propellant depots, tugs, landers..."
I would the say it is the lack of exploration to determine if and where there could be minable water on
the Moon which is the problem at the moment.

If the infrastructure cost are too high compared to potential profit, by definition, it's not minable.
As in the world's ocean have about 20 million tons of gold, but it's not minable gold.
And reason it's not minable is the infrastructure cost is too high compared to profit of the gold
one could mine in comparison to the cost of infrastructure.

If the Moon doesn't have minable water, then it should not be mined or attempted to be mined.
It could be after NASA spends about 40 billion dollar and about a decade doing a lunar program , that no deposits of water are found on the Moon which are minable.
It seems to me that if this is the case, no country should bother make a lunar base on the Moon.
And then at that point in time one could be actually making a true statement about the Moon already being explored- give the "been there, and done that" thing.
This assume that the Moon was explored in an adequate manner. And I think with total budget of no more
than 40 billion dollar and not more than 10 years, NASA should be able to do this. I am not sure the current Administrator is competent enough, but a NASA administrator should be able to manage it.
And if NASA can do it for less, say 20 billion dollars- it should do that.
Quote
Once water and propellant are produced this enables a rapid expansion of the existing infrastructure which then enables expansion of the production capability for water and prop. With cyclic almost infinite expansion. As expansion occurs so does the breadth of capabilities into new infrastructure and services not previously existing: tourism, materials (metals, regolith for radiation shielding), solar cell manufacturing, structures manufacturing, SPS, ...

So yes a little bit of water and prop production can achieve a lot in the long run, but you need some infrastructure first before that first mt of water produced. Several gallons will be produced earlier in experiments to test technology assumptions but is not an operational production of water.
Maybe Japan space agency could do this after the lunar poles have been explored.
But I think NASA should keep it's cost low, but at same time thoroughly explore the lunar poles. And part doing this would using a lot of robotic exploration with not many crew landings.
And plan to follow lunar exploration with Manned Mars exploration.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 07:59 AM by gbaikie »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3291
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1694
  • Likes Given: 192
Yes it is all the elements of infrastructure costs, if developed commercially or turned into a commercial service/product the development costs and operations determine the price for each service/product purchased by the mining company, is the controlling factor for business viability. It must produce a end price of propellant at EML1/2 that would be significantly less than the cost of delivery from Earth.

The largest consumer of such prop would be a NASA Mars or other interplanetary missions program at first. Later commercial interplanetary transport services would become more than even NASA. NASA would be one of their customers, at first the anchor customer, later just one of many.

1)Estimate investments for just the Mining over 20 years $2.4B
2)Estimate for reusable lander Xeus (Vulcan ACES derived, up to 14 crew plus 30mt of cargo or propellant, or as a prop/water tanker delivery to EML2 of 100mt) development and production of 3 vehicles [2 combined crew/cargo and 1 tanker] $1B
3)Estimate for DSH (Bigalow BA330DS version) development and delivery of two BA330's to each location of EML2 and Lunar base $1B [Note most of the cost is getting them to the location]
4)Deep space commercial cargo services (2 providers) from Earth to EML2 [Note Xeus is used to get cargo to surface, possible another reusable lander vehicle is developed by a second provider competing with Xeus and is not part of this] $1B for development of 2 providers [envisioned as upgrade of existing CRS]
5)Deep space commercial crew services (2 providers) [takes over from SLS + Orion to greatly reduce costs for this cis-Lunar regular transport] $2B [Envisioned as an upgrade of soon to exist CC services]
6)Prop depots at LEO, EML2, and Lunar surface [required each required to get to the next location economically from prop delivered initially from Earth and later for EML2 and Lunar surface from ice mining]. $1B

Total infrastructure costs $8.4B development and deployment but does not include operations costs. apportionment to the primary funds source prop sales at EML2 of total 10,000mt of a rapidly expanding prop services over 10 years of operations is $840/kg now add operations costs and profits for each level of service provider to each level of customer [see the earlier diagram of purchase relationships between entities] hopefully all of this is only $2000/kg. If it is much grater then the mining and sales of prop at EML2 to NASA etc may not be a viable business case. Problem is that a lot of these services have to be in development or operating to get investors to invest in ice mining.

The reason there are some asteroid mining investments occurring is the infrastructure requirements are not as complex.

Now getting back to the thread topic. The NASA study was about how using commercial COTS like contracts leveraging existing and soon to exist commercial capabilities to expand infrastructure and serves through ci-Lunar as a  way to reduce development and operations costs for the initial placement of the infrastructure to support further Lunar exploration and support commercial resource exploitation (even asteroids). The ice mining is a result enabled by this emplacement of low cost services. The ice mining would enable lowering costs and expanding services in cis-lunar space. But first the initial infrastructure costs must be low enough to make the ice mining profitable.

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
Yes it is all the elements of infrastructure costs, if developed commercially or turned into a commercial service/product the development costs and operations determine the price for each service/product purchased by the mining company, is the controlling factor for business viability. It must produce a end price of propellant at EML1/2 that would be significantly less than the cost of delivery from Earth.
This is incorrect.
Rather lunar rocket fuel must be competitive with Earth shipped rocket fuel to the Lunar surface.
It doesn't even need to be cheaper than Earth shipped rocket fuel- because cheaper price is not everything related to being competitive.
A problem is people might underestimate overestimate how much it cost to ship rocket fuel from Earth to the Moon's surface, therefore imagine they might be able to sell lunar rocket fuel for say $20,000 per kg. Thereby imagine they could be profitable by selling at $20,000 per kg at lunar surface.
Another problem is idea using shorthand, of saying rocket fuel, rather than LOX and Liquid Hydrogen [or high pressure Hydrogen].
It seems to me that on the Moon LOX will be cheaper than Hydrogen- and with Earth LOX is cheaper than Hydrogen. I think Moon will have lower difference of price between the fuel and the oxidizer as compared
to Earth [and Earth will "always" have significant lower cost of oxidizer vs fuel- even in the context of the Moon getting to the point of having some "huge" surplus of O2- ie mining metal oxides and difference of 1 to 6 mass for rocket fuel vs 1 to 8 splitting water ].
On Earth LOX is about 10 cent per kg, and Liquid Hydrogen is more than $5 per kg, so difference of 1 to 50.
With Moon I tend to think the difference will be 1 to 4 [or higher]. And with orbit price the difference would be 1 to 2 or 3.
So if rocket fuel on the Moon was 20,000 per kg on the Moon. LOX would be about $10,000 per kg and Hydrogen would be $80,000 per kg.
And at that price, it one might be able to ship H2 to lunar surface from Earth for less 80,000 per kg, but not be able to ship LOX from Earth for less than $10,000 per kg.
Or if not mining water on the Moon and just shipping from Earth, LOX might be $15,000 per kg and H2 might be $30,000 per kg.
And if a buyer of lunar rocket fuel at lunar surface, one might buy lunar LOX and Earth Hydrogen, thereby increasing supply of Lunar Hydrogen and "possibly" if not enough demand for extra lunar Hydrogen, lower
price of lunar hydrogen.
Now it's possible that rather than ship Hydrogen from Earth one might ship methane or Kerosene- which are as easy to ship as LOX. So wild guess, one have kerosene from earth selling on the Moon for $15,000 kg, and lunar Hydrogen is selling for say $60,000 per kg [because it's competing with Earth shipped kerosene]. So help with my wild guess, if lunar kerosene is $15,000 kg, LOX is $14,000 kg, and hydrogen is $60,000, do you buy the kerosene or the LH [or high pressure hydrogen]?
Now at those high prices, one can send humans to the Moon at much lower cost than you can at the moment.
 And if want to use SpaceX Merlin engines you might be happy to buy the kerosene- might pay more for kerosene than the not usable H2. But anyhow which fuel would you want?
Or if liquid methane was available how much would pay for it?

Now shipping lunar rocket fuel [or just Lunar LOX] to lunar orbit, it lower the cost of operating on the Moon- lowers cost of delivering non crew cargo. And as important, it increases demand for lunar water and lunar rocket fuel.
Obviously it has the added capital cost of a depot in Low lunar orbit- but allowing for this added capital cost, it seems like best direction to take to solve one shortage of demand for lunar rocket fuel.

Another aspect of having low orbit lunar depot is one could start with this depot from the beginning and use earth shipped rocket fuel, thereby lowering cost of getting things to the Moon. One also start with rocket fuel depot on the Moon, before making any lunar rocket fuel, thereby giving one immediate re-usablity of our lunar landers.
Basically how you start will depend on potential customer needs- customers being lunar tourists and/or
lunar sample return Or something else.
But it seems one has different options if NASA develops a depot in LEO, first.
And finally one has shipping to EML1/2. Which mainly seems to me about shipping lunar water for NASA Mars exploration, or at least initially.
Quote
The largest consumer of such prop would be a NASA Mars or other interplanetary missions program at first. Later commercial interplanetary transport services would become more than even NASA. NASA would be one of their customers, at first the anchor customer, later just one of many.
It seems the largest consumer of prop is lunar rocket fuel shipped to low lunar orbit. Or one might need to use hundreds of tons of lunar rocket fuel to get enough lunar infrastructure to allow one to ship water and rocket fuel for use by NASA. So hundreds of tons of lunar water used before one begins to sell rocket fuel or water to NASA.
But NASA could have a need of a lot of rocket fuel if NASA wants to send many crews to Mars and wants to get them there in 3 months or less. Also to return crew from Mars quickly could need a lot of rocket fuel.
But it seems one can start lunar water mining even if great uncertainly of what quantity of rocket fuel NASA needs.***
Of course it's possible that Lunar water miner aren't American, and US government may want to use domestic US launchers to supply rocket fuel and water for NASA Mars exploration. I can imagine Congress passing such laws.

Edit: re: anchor customer, NASA. Rather than anchor in sense of start up, NASA might act as future potential anchor customer. Or in terms of growth companies, NASA activity particularly if exploring Mars, could make the stock value of lunar mining be very expensive- because NASA could be a future customer, and Mars settlers could even bigger future customers. So get valuation like Facebook.

*** I mean after NASA explores the Moon. And after someone develops an operational depot in orbit-
and LEO seems easier place for first operational depot {and start with LOX, only, -or even some storable non-cryogenic rocket fuel- could be helpful}.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 09:07 PM by gbaikie »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3291
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1694
  • Likes Given: 192
There are three interdependent markets for prop: LEO, EML1/2, and Lunar surface. Depending on the source of the "water" the cost and price goes up the farther from the source. To compete on a 1 to 1 with Earth sourced prop at EML1/2 the price of prop at the Lunar surface would be approximately the same as prop at LEO. It is where demand is significantly greater than supply that prices will continue to increase until alternate sources can meet the demand. With a high demand at LEO vs supply the available prop to be shipped to EML1/2 would be restricted probably to lower than the demand. In this situation an alternate source such as the Moon could make a profit even if the price is significantly more than prop form Earth.

Additionally Earth sourced prop would find it difficult to compete with Lunar sourced prop at the Lunar surface and also the same is true for Lunar source prop competing at LEO with earth sourced prop. The true battleground is EML1/2.

The cheapest price currently conceivable for prop at LEO is $2000-2500/kg using an FHFT reusable for delivery. Prices of this LEO prop at EML1/2 would be $4000-5000/kg. Prices from this EML1/2 prop at lunar surface would $8000-10000/kg. At the Lunar surface Lunar made prop will most likely be cheaper than anything shipped from Earth for at least the next 15-20 years. But the prices at EML1/2 would be highly dependent on supply and demand (supply from the cheapest source not able to meet demand).

The discussion about prop markets and prices should be continued in the following more appropriate thread
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=12338.msg1416398#msg1416398

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
<snip>
1)Estimate investments for just the Mining over 20 years $2.4B
2)Estimate for reusable lander Xeus (Vulcan ACES derived, up to 14 crew plus 30mt of cargo or propellant, or as a prop/water tanker delivery to EML2 of 100mt) development and production of 3 vehicles [2 combined crew/cargo and 1 tanker] $1B
3)Estimate for DSH (Bigalow BA330DS version) development and delivery of two BA330's to each location of EML2 and Lunar base $1B [Note most of the cost is getting them to the location]
4)Deep space commercial cargo services (2 providers) from Earth to EML2 [Note Xeus is used to get cargo to surface, possible another reusable lander vehicle is developed by a second provider competing with Xeus and is not part of this] $1B for development of 2 providers [envisioned as upgrade of existing CRS]
5)Deep space commercial crew services (2 providers) [takes over from SLS + Orion to greatly reduce costs for this cis-Lunar regular transport] $2B [Envisioned as an upgrade of soon to exist CC services]
6)Prop depots at LEO, EML2, and Lunar surface [required each required to get to the next location economically from prop delivered initially from Earth and later for EML2 and Lunar surface from ice mining]. $1B

Total infrastructure costs $8.4B development and deployment but does not include operations costs. apportionment to the primary funds source prop sales at EML2 of total 10,000mt of a rapidly expanding prop services over 10 years of operations is $840/kg now add operations costs and profits for each level of service provider to each level of customer [see the earlier diagram of purchase relationships between entities] hopefully all of this is only $2000/kg. If it is much grater then the mining and sales of prop at EML2 to NASA etc may not be a viable business case. Problem is that a lot of these services have to be in development or operating to get investors to invest in ice mining.

The reason there are some asteroid mining investments occurring is the infrastructure requirements are not as complex.

Now getting back to the thread topic. The NASA study was about how using commercial COTS like contracts leveraging existing and soon to exist commercial capabilities to expand infrastructure and serves through ci-Lunar as a  way to reduce development and operations costs for the initial placement of the infrastructure to support further Lunar exploration and support commercial resource exploitation (even asteroids). The ice mining is a result enabled by this emplacement of low cost services. The ice mining would enable lowering costs and expanding services in cis-lunar space. But first the initial infrastructure costs must be low enough to make the ice mining profitable.

It seems there are few reasons NASA should explore the Moon.
First reason is to start NASA on path of exploring space.
It's also an argument against exploring the Moon- as long as NASA fails to decide to explore
the Moon, the less money NASA needs to spend [waste] on exploration. I will call that the Obama Plan.
One also has ISS program which is largely unrelated to space exploration. And delaying exploration
can be seen as continuing ISS longer.
I am fan of continuing ISS for another century or more, but I want NASA to not spend much money on
ISS when NASA gets to the point of exploring Mars. But I don't see large budget conflict of ISS and lunar
exploration, other than lunar exploration leads to Mars exploration. The degree that there is budgetary
issue with lunar program and ISS, relates to SLS.
For early lunar exploration, SLS is unrelated or not needed, because early lunar exploration would be
robotic lunar exploration. Of course once SLS is ready to fly, we have people wanting to use it, and if doing
lunar exploration program, will tend to want to use SLS for something related to lunar program- I not worried about that, but point is it's not really needed at all, but with Manned lunar exploration it could be
used if SLS still exists as program at such point in time. So Lunar program is crewed lunar landing is at around 2024 and ends somewhere around 2026.
From 2016 to 2025 one does lunar robotic exploration. From 2016 to 2026 one has depot in LEO and
LEO depot refuels robotic and crewed exploration of the Moon. And continue operating thru Mars exploration program. Btw I would have NASA send crew to Mars from High earth orbit, it seems one still use the LEO depot even if staging at high earth orbits.
And in terms of ISS, should have plans of raising it's orbit and have capability to have crew on it when it's in orbit higher than LEO, within next 5 years or so. And therefore ISS doesn't need yearly reboost for ISS to remain in orbit and thereby allowing it to be in orbit for decades. Not keen to use ISS for operational needs of Lunar or Mars programs- but suppose it's possible. More interested in ISS becoming a real international space station- so it's not question, for example, of whether the Chinese are allowed to be involved in the international space station. And all nations and private sector have way of using the station.

Second reason NASA should explore the Moon is to lower the cost of getting into space. In the only way NASA can actually can lower the cost of getting into space. Or we can say that NASA so far has not lowered the costs of getting into space, but by making a depot and exploring the moon NASA could lower
costs.
Third reason exploring the Moon allows NASA to explore Mars, in terms of politically. Or get the funding to
explore Mars. One should note that Congress has already approved plan of exploring the Moon and then exploring Mars. One should also note that Congress at one point forbid NASA from planning a Mars program.
So when Moon was included, it got Congressional support. Of course Obama is ignoring this- and there is no congressional support to explore an asteroid, instead.

Now, the focus of the lunar exploration program should be to make it a low cost program. Let's not worry about Mars program being low cost at the moment- or that might be impossible.
But it is possible to do a lunar program which includes a depot in LEO, for about 40 billion dollars- though
not allowing for SLS. To include SLS, I would look at it this way, SLS is 1 billion reduction per year in NASA.
 budget. So since lunar program last for 10 years or less, including SLS, it's then about 50 billion for lunar program. Though NASA might spend more money related to SLS, but I think it not needed or should counted for whatever things SLS used for above 1 billion per year. One might tack it on to asteroid or Mars exploration or whatever it's doing. But as said don't need SLS for lunar program, but it will be used
if have it while doing lunar exploration program- should far proper accounting cost of lunar program it seems 1 billion per year is reasonable. But if count as 40 billion lunar program, 20 billion is for depot and robotic exploration, and 20 billion for crewed missions.
And important matter related to lunar exploration making Mars exploration possible, is NASA estimating the cost of lunar program, and ending up costing near this estimated costs. This will help a lot when NASA gives it's estimate for Mars exploration program- NASA will have some credibly to Congress.
And an advantage of exploring the Moon before exploring Mars is terms of what the media does if
NASA gives low cost for exploring the Moon. Or it can't say exploring the Moon will costs trillions of dollars, the media could say exploring the Moon and Mars might costs trillions of dollar [decades into the future]
but if arguing against lunar exploration, that does not work if  the lunar plan is a 40 billion dollar program
over a 10 year period. They might say it's impossible since ISS costs much more- but can't stop the idiots from being idiots.
The other aspect is that if lunar exploration cause lunar water mining to begin to occur, this helps sell idea of exploration of Mars might contribute to Mars settlements. Or Mars exploration is not the same as Apollo
program is terms of going back to the Moon. It's not a dead end.



« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 10:40 PM by gbaikie »

Offline gbaikie

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1628
  • Liked: 48
  • Likes Given: 5
Quote
The discussion about prop markets and prices should be continued in the following more appropriate thread
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=12338.msg1416398#msg1416398

So topic topic of this thread is should NASA build a NASA base [with some private partnership]?

And my answer to this question is no.
I think NASA should not build a manned lunar base, but I think NASA should build a manned Mars base.
Generally I think any business should not be protected from going bankrupt.
And I think that NASA manned lunar base would like SLS, only worse.
And I think if NASA could/should have some private partnership, they should have done it with the
Shuttle or should be doing it with ISS. Or nothing NASA has ever done, indicates that NASA can do
some private partnership. Or you could say everything NASA has ever done is some private partnership.

So a NASA Mars base would not be business, instead it's a way to explore Mars.
I see little value for a NASA flags and footprints program of Mars, but exploring Mars could/should
be something NASA could do, but first, I think NASA should explore the Moon.

I suppose some could see that building a base on the Moon or Mars is a way of not to having a flags and footprints program. But NASA is planning on de-orbiting ISS, so I would point to this plan, and what NASA has done in the past, as evidence that any lunar or Mars base doesn't prevent a flag and footprint mission.

And I think NASA should build bases on Mars, not a base. And I don't see building a base on Mars as particularly expensive. Or the building and launching of ISS wasn't the majority of of the cost of ISS program, and ISS is a base.
Now a base on the Moon or Mars could be less expensive than the entire ISS program [100 billion or more]- or with 5 billion dollar to spend, one could build and land a manned base on the Moon or Mars. NASA couldn't but it could be done.
But 5 billion to spend is different than raising 5 billion- one has the cost of money.
And one has a larger bureaucracy of sorts involved with "somehow raising 5 billion dollars" rather than just spending the money.
 

And base is sort of like a reusable rocket, or a point of a base [and manned base] is to lower costs by re-using infrastructure.
One doesn't need crew involved with a base. Or ISS could have been an unmanned base- it could have been robotically controlled.
Or fuel depot is a base- which is generally thought of as unmanned.
So a Mars manned base is where you put the life support infrastructure for long duration human habitation. It's also where you put landing/launch pad.
One could call some area where you can more easily land stuff on the moon as a base, and put in addition some landing beacons and communication infrastructure to Earth, and it's a better base.
In that sense, I could favor a few NASA bases on the Moon, but it's generally that's not what people mean by a lunar base.
One could have a couple robotic bases on the Moon and robotic and crew could land there- and that is generally an approach I would recommend for exploring the Moon.
But mainly this is a landing area in which rockets can land close to existing infrastructure [without damaging the infrastructure with the rocket exhaust].

Since the trip to Mars takes months to get there and months to get back, I think the crew should spend a fair amount of time at Mars. I tend to think crew should stay on Mars for about 4 years, and so one needs
a manned mars base.
But the manned base doesn't need to include mining and farming. I would have first Mars base mostly focused on reusable life support infrastructure.
I would not focus on much reusable life support infrastructure with crew capsule going to Mars, instead would have this focus in regards to the Mars base. So send crew to Mars fast, and have them spend most of their time at a manned base. With spacecraft going to mars, I would not focus of using same spacecraft [re-use] for multiple crew, whereas with the mars base would be for multiple crew use and long duration of each crew mission.
 
« Last Edit: 01/05/2016 04:02 PM by gbaikie »

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3587
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2336
  • Likes Given: 2952
Thought I'd bump this because it's referenced in an article about the Falcon Heavy:

SpaceX’s Big Rocket, the Falcon Heavy, Finally Reaches the Launchpad - The New York Times

Relevant quote:
Quote
The Trump administration has declared that sending astronauts back to the moon is a priority and has advocated a greater role in the space program for private companies. Its budget proposal for 2019, which will be released next month, should include more details of what it plans to do.

Charles Miller, a former NASA official who served in the Trump administration’s transition team, thinks the agency should consider turning to cheaper, commercial alternatives like the Falcon Heavy.

“It’s the core around which I would build a near-term return-to-the-moon strategy,” Mr. Miller said.

He spearheaded a NASA-financed study in 2015 that laid out a plan that could accomplish that in five to seven years. Because the Heavy is smaller than the Space Launch System rocket, the proposed mission would be more complicated, but it would still be faster and cheaper, Mr. Miller said.

I think it's unlikely that the Trump Administration is going to commit significant money to a return-to-Moon effort, but maybe they will surprise us and propose a public/private partnership based on this study? Weirder things have happened in the short life of the Trump Administration...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Tags: