Revenue Sources
Section 3.4.
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Long-Term Lunar Resources

There is little chance of the Moon running out of resources, or being stripped of its resources as we witnessed during European Colonialism. Whatever happens in the forseeable future, there will always be a number of renewable resources:

  1. Permanent community -- a fully integrated community on the Moon will become "home" to most of its citizens; they'll want to stay and to grow. About 90% of the population in a self-supporting community work in service industries supporting the local population, while the other 10% work in manufacturing industries which export to other communities.

  2. Tourism industry -- as long as there are people on Earth, the Moon will be a cool place to visit. This is one resource of the Moon that won't wear out.

  3. Lunar oxygen -- assuming we are successful in creating a market for lunar oxygen to support chemically fueled rockets, it would take a new revolution in physics to make this industry obsolete. It would take us hundreds of thousands of years to deplete this resource.

  4. Helium-3 -- if it works at all, it will takes us about 10,000 years to deplete the Moon's helium-3 resources.

  5. Lunar metals -- iron and aluminum are abundant in the Moon rock. If we are able to extract those metals economically, that industry will continue for thousands of years.

  6. Transportation node -- in the distant future, when people are living on Mars and mining asteroids and spelunking the Jovian moons, the Moon will expand its tourist-industry role to become a major interplanetary transportation node. Even if we someday invent star travel, that little gravity well will continue to be the logical place to drydock your spaceship. This is an industry that will continue as long as there is spacefaring life on Earth.

  7. Solar power -- if it turns out to be feasible to broadcast solar power from the Moon (to ships in flight, or perhaps even to Earth's surface), this industry will continue for about five billion years. At that time the Sun goes nova, so the other long-term industries will run into hard times around then as well.

Earth-based companies wouldn't want lunar industries if the Moon's industries were direct competition, but most of the things happening on the Moon will be industries for which there are few analogs on Earth. The space transportation industry is not sufficiently established on Earth to worry about competition between Earth and Luna.

Of course, some people in mundane industries may choose to live on the Moon for personal reasons. I know several writers who would be happy to do this, and transmit their stories and articles electronically to markets on Earth. Since the Moon doesn't provide much of a competitive advantage, there's no reason to resent the fact that this kind of product is coming from the Moon.

If we get into mining metals for export to Earth, then there would be direct competition between extraterrestrial mining and Earth mining. However, this competition will probably come more from asteroids than from the Moon. The Moon's metals will more likely go into manufacturing finished products because, unlike asteroids, the Moon has a convenient gravity field and lots of other resources needed for heavy manufacturing.

Revenue Sources

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