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One thing that puzzles a lot of people these days with the Moon is: why do companies want to mine water ice...on the Moon? Why do we want moon water---there’s plenty of water on Earth!
NASA image of the ice-rich Shackleton Crater.
Looking at the business plans of companies like Astrobotic, it does seem a little puzzling. What’s so exciting about ice on the Moon? We can just bring water from Earth, right?
Well, the value in lunar H20 is actually not the H20. It’s the H!
NASA image of a Wallops rocket launch.
In short, Moon water ice can be used to make rocket fuel. So the Moon could basically serve as a sort of gas station (and/or fuel source for ones that are closer to home).
The most expensive part of space travel is simply launching off of the Earth---every pound of weight you have to launch becomes $10,000 in cost. So the more fuel you carry, the more expensive your launch gets (by a lot!).
It’s so expensive to launch weight off of Earth, that it may in fact be---in the end---cheaper to go to the Moon; mine water ice there for fuel; and ship it back to Earth orbit, than it would be to produce & launch all that fuel off of Earth.
So, the way I see it is that companies potentially have done the homework to compare costs...and found that there is definitely a market for the cost-saving of Moon gas stations (presumably in Earth orbit, as a service for anyone else going to the Moon or elsewhere. Say, Mars).
All of this derived from that water ice on the Moon that’s been found in such massive abundance. Fill ‘er up!
What do you think? Do you see this as a business model that will pick up steam?
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