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Space Moon Technology

Beyond the X-PRIZE — a $1.5B Commercial Lunar Market 33

coondoggie writes "Optimism certainly abounds in some corners of the manned space community. Today the aerospace consultancy Futron said that as much as $1.5 billion may be up for grabs for commercial space operation in the next ten years. The consultancy singled out the $30 million Google Lunar X-PRIZE contestants as a highly likely group to take advantage of such a cash pot, but there are many others who'd like a slice of that pie as well. But it's not all wine and roses; finances loom large over any space projects, and technology development is also proving to be a bugaboo. For example, even as NASA's commercial partners, such as SpaceX and Orbital, have made steady progress in developing space cargo transportation technology, they have also recently fallen behind their development schedules."
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Beyond the X-PRIZE — a $1.5B Commercial Lunar Market

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  • GLXP is unwinnable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:19AM (#28738225) Homepage Journal

    My last rant on the subject:

    > Nice YouTube video on the Google Lunar X Prize competition:
    > Moon 2.0: Join the Revolution.
    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K4zosGUMBw [youtube.com]

    Heh, I remember this video. It's about as realistic as the prize.

    1. Interest in launch watching goes up 100,000%
    2. The rocket is so damn fast that it can get the lander to the Moon in seconds.
    3. Doesn't even need a stage to enter lunar orbit.
    4. The lander doesn't even have a main engine.. apparently RCS is all
    you need to land on the Moon now.
    5. Uplink antennas only need to be the size of your typical hand held
    6. The rover doesn't need to fit in the lander.
    7. It doesn't even need an antenna.
    8. Rutan is great, all hail SpaceShipOne. The reusable, reliable,
    less expensive revolution is here! It's so reusable it never flew
    9. "The competition ignited a revolution that will launch thousands of
    civilian passengers into space." Any day now.
    10. "The Moon.. only days away" .. way to point out your own
    spin-doctoring, see point 2.
    11. re Apollo "These early missions learned much about the Moon .. but
    they were much too expensive .. and lacked any long term plan, so in
    1972 Moon 1.0 was abandoned." Ohhhh.. that's why it was abandoned..
    cause there was no long term plan! I thought it was because the
    public lost interest .. see point 1.
    12. Cut to terribly interested people, thanks to the Internet!
    13. Queue weasel words about how resources on the Moon "could" provide
    Earth with clean affordable limitless energy.
    14. "Much of the lunar soil is silicon, a key ingredient in solar
    cells" .. *facepalm*.
    15. Solar Power Satellites using lunar resources.. and there's that
    weasel word again.
    16. Bonus prizes for doing impossible things.. I mean, more impossible
    than just winning the major prize at a profit.. which is the only
    reason why you'd care about the bonuses. The one mentioned is lunar
    ice.. because landing at the poles is so obviously easy with today's
    super rockets, see point 2.
    17. Apparently shining a torch at the ground is sufficient to do
    spectral analysis to determine the presence of lunar ice. Someone
    call the LCROSS folks!
    18. Bonus for surviving the lunar night, complete with kitschy "wake
    up now little rover" scene.
    19. Oh, and the most stupid Bonus prize of them all. A prize for the
    team that can find artifacts of previous lunar exploration. Yes,
    that's right, because if it wasn't hard enough that we suggest you
    land at the pole, we're now suggesting that you drive to the equator..
    or maybe you only do this bonus, in which case you "only" have to do a
    precision landing, should be no trouble with the advanced lander
    propulsion system, see point 4.
    20. More shots on the lander approaching the Moon at warp factor 5,
    with no orbital insertion engine and no descent engine.
    21. "... and this time we're planning to stay." queue music.

    This video, most graphically, demonstrated to me that the GLXP is a
    gimmick, backed by morons with no serious understanding of the amazing
    achievement that Apollo really was. Apparently the prize will be won
    by bored teenagers who will subsequently shrug off the whole "space is
    hard" myth and go build a lunar base to make constellations of solar
    power satellites to stick it in the face of their baby boomer
    grandparents who didn't have the vision to do it the first time around
    and subsequently destroyed the planet. /rant

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You know, you are probably right, the GLXP is pretty much a gimmick probably. But let me tell you about something you forgot to take into account in your analysis of the situation. Across the country, and even in other countries, there are scores of Aerospace, Mechanical, Electrical, Software, Computer, Civil, Structural, Nuclear, and Materials Engineering Students frothing at the mouth and chomping at the bit to get to work on decent projects. Inspired teenagers and young adults at universities have more g
      • Back in the summer of 69, I watched the moon landing and wanted to be the first pharmacist on the moon. All my hopes shot to crap in 72. Now, I'm too old but realize that we need to get off this planet sometime, if for nothing else than to preserve the human race in case of calamity. You can say what you want about how stupid the idea is, but the fact remains that we need a plan and the government agencies with all their $500 hammers and $1000 toilet seats aren't the best.
    • Thank you. Now I'm nauseousest. That was by farest the cheesiest, marketing-lies-filledest and unrealisticest video *everestestest*. What a jokest!

      Did they let the marketingest internest do that?

      P.S.: Offering bag of "est" syllables for sate. Buy now!

  • Is it worth it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:25AM (#28738261) Journal
    $1.5 billion? Wikipedia says the Apollo Program cost $135 billion [wikipedia.org], adjusted for inflation. I doubt many parties participating in these competitions are in it for the prize money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm of the opinion that setting foot on the moon the very first time was the most expensive time considering it took the entirety of human knowledge up until that time to make it happen (plus a bit of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants engineering). Each trip after that would only require a fraction of the original research as it's a matter of tuning or tweaking a somewhat known quantity (albeit still expensive).
      What do we value all of the knowledge and research which we gained from those missions at?
      I too dou

    • Granted I had a hard time parsing the article, but it keeps talking about markets and the value of commercial space operation. I think the article is saying that's the projected value of the whole market, which X-PRIZE contenders will be positioned to exploit. "Um, yay," I think is the appropriate turn of phrase if that's true.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      To date, no-one has published details on how they intend to solve the communications problem. The prize has set the bar a tad too high on that one. About the only way to do it is to put a very big antenna on the lander. Even if you use inflatables you're looking at a massive bit of hardware there. It really is the mass variable for the mission. Unfortunately, most all the competitors are rovers people, not rocket people.

  • Can't wait for the moon hoax crowd to jump in on this.

  • OK, I'm standing on the Moon, in my suit, plenty of Air, Water, and Food. Ok, I've got to MacGyver [wikipedia.org] my way out of this problem. What can I send back, or "make" and send back so that I can keep getting more Air, Water, and Food till I'm self sufficient? NASA used deep penetrating radar [nasa.gov] about 10 years ago, why can't NASA use it on the Moon? Why can't we use ISS as a platform to build stuff to go to the Moon?
  • by BuR4N ( 512430 ) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:56AM (#28739013) Homepage Journal
    Sure, SpaceX is behind the schedule with the Falcon 9 and recently lost a customer ( http://spacefellowship.com/2009/07/13/spacex-lost-falcon-9-customer/ [spacefellowship.com] ). But if we look on the bright side, what SpaceX have accomplished so far, took two superpowers and a brewing cold war last time, for example the Merlin engine is the first new engine designed in the US since the 60's , they have launched Falcon 1 successfully recently ( http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20090715 [spacex.com] ) and pushes forward with the Dragon spacecraft ( http://www.spacex.com/dragon.php [spacex.com] ). I think all this speaks volume about private space flight and the very important role that X-Prize and such plays.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cheesybagel ( 670288 )
      for example the Merlin engine is the first new engine designed in the US since the 60's

      Nope. The SSME [wikipedia.org], RS-68 [wikipedia.org] were developed after the 60's.

      • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

        Nope. The SSME [wikipedia.org], RS-68 [wikipedia.org] were developed after the 60's

        You're correct. According to SpaceX's own publicity material [spacex.com]: "The Merlin 1C next generation liquid fueled rocket booster engine is among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Atlas II main engine, and on par with the Saturn V F-1 engine. It is the first new American booster engine in a decade and only the second American booster engine

    • I think all this speaks volume about private space flight and the very important role that X-Prize and such plays.

      Given that the X prize contributed not at all to SpaceX (and the US Government did)....

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      To be fair, it says a lot more about Elon Musk than it does about private companies in general.

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