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Lunar resource utilization: Implications for commerce and exploration

Authors
Journal
Advances in Space Research
0273-1177
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
31
Issue
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0273-1177(03)00550-7
Disciplines
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract Propellant derived from ice located in permanently shadowed craters near the Moon's poles has been proposed as a commercial venture for the Moon. A detailed analysis of the possibilities associated with lunar propellants has been carried out with an integrated technical-financial tool. The analysis shows that, with current understanding of the available technology for propellant production, transportation systems, and the market for launch of vehicles between LEO-GEO, it is difficult to demonstrate that a viable commercial opportunity exists to serve that market with lunar propellant. Improvements in technology, the location of higher concentrations of ice on the Moon, the availability of a space infrastructure, and a larger market each could significantly improve the prospects for commercial viability. A government-sponsored human exploration program, using the Earth-Moon L-1 point as a hub, could address many of these issues while avoiding program costs and could open commercial opportunities in space transportation.

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