Section 1.2.
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Purpose of the First Mission

Lunar spacecraft at staging base in Earth orbit

The goals of the first mission are to:

  1. Establish a permanent habitat
  2. Leave the transportation system in space
  3. Demonstrate that private enterprise can do manned space flight

We're hoping we'll also be able to have the crew assay the site and do some exploring on the first mission, so the next crew will know what to bring with them. If we have some weight margin, a small pilot plant for processing lunar soil to extract its oxygen is a high priority. Processing other volatiles and even smelting metal using solar power are also high priorities, even if these are only tiny little experiments no bigger than a briefcase.

Very high on the priority list is to leave the telerobotic capability in place so that the mission can continue after the first crew has come home. The crew might have to do some refurbishment work on the robot, replace batteries or solar panels, clean off dust (if they can), or erect a shelter for the robot.

Of course, if the science community would like to sponsor scientific goals for the mission, we'd be more than eager to accommodate their desires.

The permanent habitat becomes the exploration base and construction shack for the next flight, where we get down to serious work. Since the second crew will already have a habitat waiting for them, they can carry more industrial and exploration equipment. Mining, materials processing, and finding lava tubes are all urgent.

It's not inconceivable that the first flight could earn enough money to pay for one or more subsequent flights, but the entertainment value of this venture will diminish until both the lunar base and LEO transportation systems reach the point where lunar tourism is economically viable. So we need to demonstrate as early as we can that we are able to build habitats on the moon and fly people there using commercial aerospace standards and practices.

If we can do that, and the LEO transportation system comes together, we should be in a position to seek real capital to fully develop lunar tourism as an industry. That reduces the cost for everybody, and planetary scientists will find that a field trip to the moon is reasonable. A stable business -- any stable business -- will open the floodgates; it's all uphill from there.


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