Financing the Project
Section 3.3.
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Direct Investment in Manned Space

We originally structured the Artemis Project to avoid having to ask people to invest directly in the space flight because attempts to get private funding for manned space flight have not been successful in the past. More than twenty years (since 1976) of zero success provides a pretty strong body of empirical data. That doesn't mean it's impossible; but it does indicate that the chances of success are very small.

Until we have an operational lunar base which has proved out the habitation systems, lunar mining, and basic feasibility of the transportation system, we won't know enough about the risks to even begin to assess them. Once those things have happened, we will be able to show a long-range business plan that shows how lunar resources can be profitably exploited. In the long run, the strongest source of income for a lunar community will probably be tourism. Second would be lunar oxygen for rocket fuel. (This assumes the helium-3 scenario doesn't happen. We're ambivalent about that one.)

We face two major problems in getting to the point where we can ask people to invest directly in manned space flight: (1) concept of manned space as an unprofitable government venture, and (2) level of risk vs. the time it takes to break even.

Because of the Apollo Program and successors, people have developed a mind-set that manned space must be so large and complex that only a huge government body could do it; and that the only reason it's worth doing is to pull off a political stunt. This is clearly not true of you, or you wouldn't be reading this; however it is certainly true of the great majority of the world's population.

It's also true of the great majority of people working on space programs today. If you survey the web sites, especially the NASA, NSS, and SEDS sites, you'll see that nearly all the activity is geared toward convincing the U.S. government to do something. (It ain't gonna happen. For evidence, review the history of NASA's budget, appearing soon on a web site near you.)

Manned space as commercial enterprise is too speculative an idea for most large investors. The length of time between the initial investment and assurance of return on that investment is too great to justify the risks. Investors need some data upon which to base an investment decision. When we wrote the Artemis Project goal "to bootstrap private enterprise into manned space flight," that's exactly what we had in mind. Establish a proven track record, and the world will beat a path to the moon.

Often, when we talk about his subject, people ask whether we would accept a deal from a large company wanting to investing directly in the manned space flight. All caveats and concerns aside, of course we would.

In the years we have been developing the Artemis Project, we have also learned that far more people are interested in investing in the space flight itself than we had originally anticipated. The long-term return on investment and the satisfaction of being a part of the adventure have turned out to be have much stronger than we expected. So, we are adjusting our business plans accordingly. Direct investment means we can get started developing the lunar industrial infrastructure much more quickly, to the benefit of everyone who wants to go.

Financing the Project

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