The Spudis Plan for Lunar Return

First private sector mission concepts, potential revenue streams, what various companies and organizations are doing along these lines, <b>closely</b> related topics

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John Hunt
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Post by John Hunt » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:43 pm

the areas of water ice we find at the north pole may not be as concentrated as what LCROSS found.
I would presume that we would go wherever the ice was at the hightest concentration, yes? If so then we would prospect the North Pole, if the concentrations were lower then the missions would be done at the South Pole. Both poles have peaks of near eternal light so I don't know but I think that that would not be the determining factor.

John Hunt
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Post by John Hunt » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:50 pm

In a year's time, we could have 7 full equipment sets up and running, with a production capacity of over 5000mt per year.
Would it be reasonable to aim towards the goal of becoming the sole provider of fuel to LEO since such a system would have a temporary monopoly on the cheapest form of fuel to LEO? If so, then we should try to estimate how much water-based fuel is currently required in LEO, extrapolate as to what normal growth of demand will be at the time of our production scale-up, and also estimate what additional demand there would be due to the presence of our lower-cost fuel. For example, the number of GEO communications sats could increase if the cost of transport from LEO to GEO went down and also the size of the comm sats could go up since they don't have to launch their own LEO to GEO fuel.

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joertexas
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Post by joertexas » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:29 am

[quote=""JohnHunt""]I would presume that we would go wherever the ice was at the hightest concentration, yes? If so then we would prospect the North Pole, if the concentrations were lower then the missions would be done at the South Pole. Both poles have peaks of near eternal light so I don't know but I think that that would not be the determining factor.[/quote]

The two main reasons I've selected the north pole are line of sight to earth, and the terrain. The north pole is generally much more visible from earth, and the terrain is generally flatter, without the steep slopes so typical of the Aitken Basin at the south pole.

Once we're established, then certainly we could send landers to the south pole to assay the ice deposits LCROSS found. As a pilot, though, I'd not want to try for the south pole on the first mission.

JR

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joertexas
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Post by joertexas » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:57 am

[quote=""JohnHunt""]Would it be reasonable to aim towards the goal of becoming the sole provider of fuel to LEO since such a system would have a temporary monopoly on the cheapest form of fuel to LEO? If so, then we should try to estimate how much water-based fuel is currently required in LEO, extrapolate as to what normal growth of demand will be at the time of our production scale-up, and also estimate what additional demand there would be due to the presence of our lower-cost fuel. For example, the number of GEO communications sats could increase if the cost of transport from LEO to GEO went down and also the size of the comm sats could go up since they don't have to launch their own LEO to GEO fuel.[/quote]

Logan Knox has done some research on this issue, but his website is down, and I don't have access to his data.

At the moment, the demand is zero, since there is no supplier. We would have to create the demand by making a supply available. At that point, we would have a monopoly - if we can demonstate our ability to actually deliver product.... and that will be our next biggest problem to solve after actually obtaining something to sell and getting it to LEO.

First, we have to put the depot into the correct orbit to service GEO-bound launches. From what I've read, LEO isn't the best choice, and orbital inclination is a huge factor, too.

Second, we have to *demonstrate* the ability to dock with another provider's spaceraft - to their satifaction. That will take some time and money, just like SpaceX and the ISS.

Third, we have to have the equipment (depot, tugs, whatever) available to store, process and transfer the proper amount and quality of fuel to the customers' spacecraft when they need it.

If we can meet those demands, and I think we can, then we will have that monopoly for a while.

I've seen some differing opinions on what a supply of fuel in LEO will do to the launch market. Some pundits say there will be little demand, and others say it will cause a fundamental shift in how we build and fly spacecraft.


JR

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moonus111
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Post by moonus111 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:46 pm

Things have been a bit rocky for me over the past couple of months. Apologies, but the site is back up today.

I was a doubter about lunar ice for quite some time, Spudis was the guy that convinced me that it is there in multiple forms.

There's also some evidence that there's ice even on Mecury ... at least according to John Lewis. Since Lewis is an asteroid guy, you'll have to wade through mountains of Asteroid-Ice stuff to find it.

Depots are an awesome way to built infrastructure. Obviously LEO would be the first location, but with growth other locations could be possible.

If we're selling the stuff @ LE0 I'm assuming a price of $1000-$3000/kg
GEO? L2/4/5? L3?

@$1000/kg that means a budget can be put together for analysis. On end products... obviously these numbers are very course.
1 ton ~ $2 million
10 tons ~$20 million
100 tons ~$200 million
1000 tons ~$2 billion

Customers will come, but where would we get analysis on projected sales. I've been wracking my brain since I skimmed the biz plan.

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RaresH
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Post by RaresH » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:40 pm

[quote=""moonus111""]Things have been a bit rocky for me over the past couple of months. Apologies, but the site is back up today.

I was a doubter about lunar ice for quite some time, Spudis was the guy that convinced me that it is there in multiple forms.

There's also some evidence that there's ice even on Mecury ... at least according to John Lewis. Since Lewis is an asteroid guy, you'll have to wade through mountains of Asteroid-Ice stuff to find it.

Depots are an awesome way to built infrastructure. Obviously LEO would be the first location, but with growth other locations could be possible.

If we're selling the stuff @ LE0 I'm assuming a price of $1000-$3000/kg
GEO? L2/4/5? L3?

@$1000/kg that means a budget can be put together for analysis. On end products... obviously these numbers are very course.
1 ton ~ $2 million
10 tons ~$20 million
100 tons ~$200 million
1000 tons ~$2 billion

Customers will come, but where would we get analysis on projected sales. I've been wracking my brain since I skimmed the biz plan.[/quote]

The specifics of market mechanisms and details in question would be revealed once we have the appropriate experts involved. We can only guess.

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joertexas
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Post by joertexas » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:40 pm

[quote=""RaresH""]The specifics of market mechanisms and details in question would be revealed once we have the appropriate experts involved. We can only guess.[/quote]

My guess is that we can deliver about 1300 mt annually to LEO, exclusive of what we produce for our own use. This would involve flying four OTVs, each making four trips per year.

JR
Last edited by joertexas on Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rhyshaelkan
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Post by Rhyshaelkan » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:45 am

Pricing for LH2/LOx will be competitive vs. launching said fuel from Earth. That said any cargo that is solely fuel will have the added tankage to be used or discarded once used in space. Then there is the production of the rockets to fly.

Estimates show that F9H can put 32t for $95M. That gives a cost of $2968/kg. However who knows if SpaceX will have the capacity to build a rocket for everyone's need. Therefore even if the cost of fuel were higher, it might be in a group's interests to purchase the fuel in orbit. Indeed there also might be a premium due to unavailability, e.g. someone wants to catch a window and does not want to orbit their craft and wait till SpaceX can put another rocket on the pad and launch the fuel which they need for the mission.

While I do not approve of "charging what the market will bear," or inflating costs just cause you can. Those monies gained from the sale will allow our group to progress, more, better, and faster.
I am not a professional. I am a rational amateur who dreams about humans going into space.
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Mark Prado
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Post by Mark Prado » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:49 pm

In my opinion, the lunar poles where there exist fairly well proven concentrations of volatiles and abundant sunshine are the best two places to focus. This is a change in my opinion from a few years ago when both the data and analysis were a lot more questionable in their projections.

I've been reading a bunch of the professional reports -- thanks largely to Sam's research and sifting, and I'm also mining links by y'all here, much appreciated, in addition to my own research of literature.

With our limited time and resources, if we're going to propose a concrete mission plan, with credible costing, then we need some sort of structure to put it into, a mission with all its elements, with extracts from other referenced missions and eventual contact with the authors for their inputs and critiques, and identified gaps and unknowns with invitations to fill them.

Multibillion dollar high risk engineering projects are not uncommon in this world, many with considerably less merit.

At some point, the very slow and amazingly expensive government lunar concepts must be superceded with a commercial space race, which maybe we can help stir up.

It's a race against time ... and still progressing too slowly.
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John Hunt
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Post by John Hunt » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:51 pm

[quote=""Mark Prado""]At some point, the very slow and amazingly expensive government lunar concepts must be superceded with a commercial space race, which maybe we can help stir up.

It's a race against time ... and still progressing too slowly.[/quote]

I would have to agree. Considering how fast SpaceX (with a pittance) was able to get the Falcon 9 & Dragon flying especially compared to Ares I, I wonder just where we would be if we'd used a COTS-like approach long ago?

But this poses a question. Is the right way to go to seek a new government-sponsored approach to get commercial companies over the initial threshold and to a market-supported situation. Or, should it be strictly commercial without any initial government support.

My feeling is that there will probably be a need for initial government support but that, once the first OTV brings water to LEO, the market will be sufficiently confident to invest $$$ to scale up operations before RoI.

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