Economic Model for the Lunar Community
Section 2.11.5.
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Outline for Economic Model for the Lunar Community


The Artemis Project has long recognized the requirement for a cis-lunar (the moon and immediate solar system environment) economic model. Such a model would provide insights into the effects of different launch costs, moonbase operations, low-Earth orbit (LEO) operations, and the profit and loss environment for planned or conceived scenarios.

Rather than being an exercise in economic modelling and planning, the Cis-Lunar Economic Model (CLEM) should be treated as a working tool, and be biased in favor of delivering output products that reflect a fairly narrow range of interests: safety, profit and loss, economic risk, return on investment, development time/cost/complexity, and resilience of commercial operations.

This document presents a starter framework to aid the Advance Planning Technical Committee (APTC) to develop the most appropriate model to meet their needs. The CLEM is not a cis-lunar traffic model, but it would have to include levels and types of traffic to account for the transportation infrastructure required by the cis-lunar economy.

A Basic Architecture

This will now be presented as a strawman item to help focus the group's thinking on a CLEM that is commercially useful, as opposed to being intellectually interesting or perfect.

Earth ()<-->Transit Space<-->LEO<-->Transit Space<-->LO<-->Transit Space<-->Lunar Surface ()
Figure 1.

Fig. 1 presents a simplistic view of the commercial operating environment in terms of physical locations and mission timeline opportunity spaces.

(It should be noted that all operations should be considered as "missions," since this implies that considerable support operations will be required for their duration. This is distinct from, say, a "flight" where the vehicle is largely self-reliant for much of the travel timeline. Commercial airline travel is the best example of a technically demanding, but now routine, travel system. Aircraft make use of common facilities for servicing and flight initiation and turnaround, but are largely self-contained for the travel period proper. Spaceflight will never achieve this level of blandness, as there will always be operations which extend the operating area and envelope. However, as the space environment becomes more mature, it is conceivable that the LEO frontier would be the first to fall into routine operations, such that "missions to LEO" become "flights to LEO." Thus, we shall continue to regard all space environment operations as missions until such time as you can book a seat two hours before the flight.)

In this linear model of the commercial environment (physical), seven basic operational areas have been defined: Earth, Transit to LEO, LEO, Transit to Luna, LO (lunar orbit), Transit to the Lunar Surface, and Lunar Surface Operations.

These areas will now be reviewed briefly, so as to attempt to quantify their place in the CLEM in terms of their basic characteristics, typical inputs and outputs, and connectivities with each other in this linear space model, and the more general commercial and economic environment.

LO Markets

Lunar Surface Commercial Markets

LEO Data Product Markets

Much of the following has been guided by the contents of NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology Initiative (SSTI).

Personnel Markets

There is a proven (e.g., Russian Mir) market for the provision of mission experience to astronauts sponsored by world governments. The same would apply to the opportunity to have a national travel to the moon. Whilst the LEO transport market should reduce costs and the market price for such transfers, there are still the questions of limited LEO destinations, and very limited lunar destinations. We may therefore assume that the lunar surface market would be at least as well priced as LEO presently is, and possibly command a higher premium due to the monopoly situation (Mir is not a monopoly on human space access destinations). This means that a price of at least $60m times a trading factor of 2.0 might be an appropriate starting figure for the provision of facilities to get a national to the lunar surface and back.

Basic Economic Equations Requiring Development

Reference Sources

Please refer to the "Related External Web Sites" file in this section of the ADB for useful reference sources.

Economic Model for the Lunar Community

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