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From Footprints to Blueprints: Development of the Moon and Private Enterprise

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420825220
  • Publisher: Authorhouse
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Contents DEDICATION....................ix
I THE RATIONALE....................1
II FORECASTING THE CENTURY....................5
III FUNDING OF PROJECTS....................13
X PRECURSOR MISSIONS....................71
XII MOON SPACEPORTS....................105
XVI COMMUNICATIONS....................135
XVII LUNAR VEHICLES....................145
APPENDIX B: A THEME PARK ON THE MOON....................241
APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY OF TERMS....................249
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First Chapter

From Footprints to Blueprints Development of the Moon, and Private Enterprise
By Michael Ross AuthorHouse Copyright © 2006 Michael Ross
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4208-2522-0



Archival and historical records, insofar as they are known, can assist in weighing the advantages in taking a new course of action along with the disadvantage in not. The record of opening up and developing of new frontiers, to the advantage of creating wealth and prosperity, appears to offer bright prospects for similar initiatives-in the near-Space frontier this time.

Thomas Jefferson, 200 years ago, knew about frontiers-political ones, for which he is best known, but also another one, starting just the other side of the fence around his Monticello, Virginia estate. That frontier was called the wilderness-then. But in short order, it became a beckoning frontier and a progressing one in wagons rolling West, opening up the wealth of a continent through business, commerce, and enterprise.

In modern terms, a new frontier (vertical, this time) opens up near-Space with resources and energies to be tapped, for the benefit of all mankind. The rocket, replacing the wagon, brings near-Space to a proximity making it next door to Earth-as accessible, in terms of time, as the old frontier was in Jefferson's age.

At the dawn of a new century, near-Space is already commercially tapped, in communications, weather, and science satellites and the laboratory of the International Space Station. For the new century, a goal can be identified for the commercial development of the immediately-adjacent wilderness-the Moon. The motivation would be profit-making commerce for projects at or on the Moon, that would take advantage of unique lunar conditions to generate cash flows, dividends, and employment on Earth, in near-term short-horizon enterprises.

The arrival of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface, historic as it was, surely also presaged historic milestones yet to come. For the coming twenty-first century, can be anticipated the laying of the groundwork of a thriving commerce between a developing Moon, and Earth-heralding in the still further future a red (Mars), white (Moon), and blue (Earth) triworld prospering economy.


In a long-range forecasting of the future, a path is steered between the "knowns" and the "not-yet-knowns" that are estimated, but yet to reach an optimistic conclusion as to the outcome of a "return to the Moon to stay."

The framers of the 1985 "Report of the National Commission on Space," formulating an agenda to carry America's civilian Space enterprise into the twenty-first century, worked to comparative timelines. The year 1935 and "states of the art" then (Lindbergh and a mere handful were the only transatlantic aerial crossers at that time) was set as a datum to compare the state of progress in 1985 (at which point, in excess of 25 million passengers were flying across the Atlantic per year-technological advancement indeed). From there, the Commission set the year 2035 (fifty years hence, and a huge hundred years total of assessment in all) as a forward limit in reaching visionary goals for the twenty-first century.

In estimating development of the Moon accomplished by the year 2100, some prudent leeway in projection may have to be allowed. Progress may not necessarily be uniform nor extrapolate from earlier record; in the past have been "spike points" where a knowledge critical mass appears to have been attained, exploding into an outburst of technical creativity without previous parallel and knowing no national boundaries. (The Industrial Revolution and the extraordinary period circa 1900 recorded by Barbara Tuchman in her book, The Proud Tower being cases in point.) Also, the effect of individual personality (unpredictable ahead of time) has had its profound influence on affairs. As against this uncertainty, comfort may be taken that much of the future is forecasted in periodic census that records trends, and which are actioned in the setting up of long-lead provisions e.g. for electrical generating plants and town planning.

The political aspects of the Apollo program notwithstanding, it would currently appear that justification for return to the Moon to stay will be economic. For corporate enterprise, no responsibility to taxpayers is involved, but entrepreneurial opportunities will be seen and seized, recognizing the most rigorous financial analysis by venture capital on projects that will initially carry high entry costs.

In building facilities and infrastructure from a standing start, initial Moon activities may likely begin with precursor flights and demonstration proofs of feasibility. From there, projects could emerge as small scale, on a "one step at a time" basis, yielding near-term return on investment. As confidence, track record, and market demand are built up, facilities can be justifiably expanded. Based on past growth records in Earth applications, lunar buildup may show moderate increase over some years, with then a sudden, sharp increase in performance at the point where the business has "found itself." Meanwhile, the support industry on Earth also is gearing up, providing Moon-related employment. Moon regulatory offices on Earth will be begin to emerge.

In the initial build-up of commercial development, individual enterprises may likely start with all necessary materials and equipment imported from Earth, at a high transportation cost. In time, the 100 percent import approach can give way to avoiding such transportation costs by the setting up of lunar autonomous facilities that process and utilize materials that are already available in the lunar soil as elements of the soil. In time again, individual enterprises may collaborate with each other for economies of scale. From there, it can be but a step to enterprises having a raison d'etre solely of specializing in services to others, such as provision of electrical power. Under these circumstances, from a "seed" start-point, an economy on the Moon can rapidly emerge and compound.

Development of the Moon will depend on reinvented access to the Moon in a Cislunar Earth/Moon Space Transportation System. Technical inheritance from Apollo exists. At the outset, there may be a scenario of the launch of components into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), to assemble there a Moonliner that remains perpetually in cislunar Space in cruise between Earth and Moon.

There will be much in Moon development, requiring adjustment to the local conditions of no atmosphere (high vacuum pertaining), two-week days and two-week nights, high surface temperature gradients, and lack of water. Especial focus will be needed, tending to the pristine and fragile lunar environment that lacks the upset-absorbing power and resilience of Earth ecosystems.

Expertises developed for the Moon can be expected to feed back to Earth-in jobs, standards of living, and quality of environment.

The huge year 1900 technical renaissance on Earth led to nascent capabilities that may have been underappreciated at the time-but that then went on to become major staple industries supporting standards of living and society at large throughout the twentieth century. In a return to the Moon, therefore, may be the bright promise of another renaissance, repeating the year 1900 history recorded in Barbara Tuchman's The Proud Tower.



Fiscal restraints pertaining in the early twenty-first century can loom large in considering the feasibility of Moon projects. In the early twenty-first century, though, private enterprise has already created precedent in operations in Space in the successful establishment of commercial satellites in near-Space. From there will emerge short flights in suborbital trajectory, carrying commercial, fare-paying passengers of the general public to the fringes of Space for views of the Earth seldom seen before. From there again can emerge relatively small-scale commercial Moon projects that can establish a successful financial track record, leading to later larger-scale enterprises.

Space projects, and particularly the Apollo manned Moon-landing project, made for an early conception of all Space projects as being necessarily within the purview and domain of Government and Government funding.

Subsequently, Earth-orbit communication and navigation satellites, at least, became commercial operations-although Government retained a hold on long-distance exploratory robotic missions to other planets.

In manned programs, the notion of a requirement for Government resources may be giving way to a realization that private capital on its own can fund manned Space projects. The perception of venture capital would be a concern for high entry costs and the time for payback on investment-all within a present lack of market track record. Capital investment procedure would be financially rigorous, looking for a detailed business plan, market demand, revenue projections, length of project, and tax aspects.

In this capital investment context, a commercial manned return to the Moon project would have its genesis in smaller, more tentative projects of many years before, that paved the way for increasingly larger projects in incremental steps as viability and market track record were established. In this regard:

- The successful year 2004 flight of SpaceShipOne (competing for the X-Prize for the first private enterprise suborbital manned flight) opened the way for commercial passenger-carrying operations to 100-km altitude (the approximation of this private enterprise capability, with the flight of Alan Shepard in the Freedom 7 first Project Mercury suborbital shot of 1961, can be noted).

From SpaceShipOne, and building on that record, may be envisaged commercial "inns" in Earth orbit.

In the relatively near term, may be envisaged an actual lunar surface project related to a robotic lunar trek. The project (The Selenium Trek) would be for a camera-equipped robotic rover, with 500-mile roving capability, routed to landmarks of great public interest. Such a trek might start at the Apollo 17 Taurus-Littrow Valley landing site, to revisit that historic site, pass the foothills of the Haemus mountain range in the Sea of Serenity, proceeding to the site of the Russian probe Luna 2, en route to the Apollo 15 landing site and Hadley rille and mountain. The rover would make monthly broadcasts, and a successful television audience share would contribute to the historical financial Space enterprise record.

It might well be that a commercial Moon project would come from a consortium of private enterprise organizations, either national or international. Meanwhile, Government might consider as justifiable and the national interest served, in the provision or renting of support facilities and infrastructure to private enterprise Moon projects.



Near-Space is already tapped for resources, services, and knowledge-in commercial communications, weather, and science satellites-that betoken a new, (high) frontier benefiting mankind. The Moon, accessible within three days of travel time, may be included in this new frontier-in the creation of new businesses, originating from and exclusively and directly benefiting the Earth economy in day-to-day life.

The use of robotics in lunar enterprises would be a key factor in keeping down costs, dispensing with the need for man-rated transport and Moon human residence costs. Another determining factor is the size of launcher that it would be economical to use. Enterprises in the early development of the Moon would likely rely on transporting all the equipment required, entirely prefabricated, from Earth-though in later days, production of materials and equipment from in situ lunar material could be contemplated and would be feasible.

A Moon enterprise project would involve the assessment of what, if any, lunar real estate is a requirement, and whether land property rights of the land were a key factor (real estate aspects, covered in later chapter). Meanwhile, a host of potential types of enterprise can be categorized, e.g.:

- a mapping of the Moon by satellite in orbit, geared to the type of map information required; also, photographic reconnaissance of any particular lunar location.

- the establishment of a pilot plant for a feasibility Lunar Solar Power System, beaming electric power from sunray photovoltaic arrays by microwave to Earth.

- the potential for helium-3, found in abundant supply in the lunar topsoil, as a fuel for electrical power fusion reactors on Earth.

- the processing of lunar soil, with oxygen bound in as oxides, as a source for life support oxygen, and oxygen fuel for Earth-orbiting spacecraft.

- tourism on the Moon, that might start as a free-return trajectory that circled the Moon only, to be later followed by trips to the lunar surface.

- geological science on the Moon, by satellite or by mobile robotic equipment or manned survey, geared to the specific area of science being explored.

- astronomical science, through an observatory placed on the lunar far side for a region of quiet for radio astronomy.

- placement on the Moon of a facility supporting detection of approaching hazardous Space objects that could collide with Earth (Near Earth Object (NEO) Threat Mitigation).

Initially, lunar enterprises would be self-contained and all-inclusive, in terms of everything required being within the scope of the particular enterprise organization. Later, however, it would appear that specialist support enterprises would spring up, offering services to prime enterprises in the way of oxygen supply, electricity, locally grown food, and waste disposal. A major such support enterprise would be the construction of a lunar railroad, connecting separate primary enterprises, providing access to the parts of a far-flung primary enterprise, and acting as a necessary component of a nascent and growing tourism industry.



For some comparison and perspective, NASA's very large-scale Government Apollo project involved 6 prime and some 350 subcontractor organizations, totaling some 300,000 staffers in all. In commercial Moon projects, such a scale of organization is unlikely to be encountered, even on such a megascale project as a Lunar Solar Power System occurring as a very mature project. The extent of detail in stakeholder organizational structures of early venture projects to the Moon will likely show a modest organizational structure, but dependent also on the particular nature of the enterprise. The structure will allow for numerous regulatory contacts that may be involved.

A commercial project organization is termed "the stakeholder." A stakeholder may be defined as an organization with an individual business reason for a Moon operation, be the purpose mining, science gathering, tourism, or any other purpose. This would potentially amount to a very wide spectrum of business interest stakeholders, in terms of type and size of enterprise that could range from an automated commercial radio/television station on the Moon, to a mega-project such as a Lunar Solar Power System (LSPS) microwaving electrical power to Earth.

The contractual splits will differentiate between Moon surface and Earth surface activities, and flying elements. It may be taken that the stakeholder may mesh with national Government(s) as part of Government interest in Space treaties. It would be merging also with regulatory bodies in the widest sense, that would include input on flying, transportation, construction, and operations codes-also functions within an "international regime to be established," safeguarding interests on the Moon.

In Moon Surface Operations:

Such operations cover, for building and subsequent operations, design and erection of facilities for habitats, working spaces, processing plant, life support, with water, air, and electrical power. It might be envisaged that a contractual split may be made between the construction phase and the operations phase.

In Earth Activity Operations:

Earth activities may, in certain projects, be quite minimal. In an LSPS project, however, Earth activities would include erection of electrical power receiving rectennas, and that activity could make up a main portion of the project cost.


Excerpted from From Footprints to Blueprints by Michael Ross Copyright © 2006 by Michael Ross. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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