So far, nobody is getting paid for doing any work on the Artemis Project. I certainly hope that changes, or we don't have a program.
If people can earn a good living doing things that advance the project, then it will endure for a long time. That's the whole idea. If it continues on as only volunteer effort, it will be subject to the vague whims of life -- work demands, kids, other personal interests. I want to go back to the moon to stay.
If you're wondering about me, personally, well, I'm several thousand dollars in the hole to the Artemis Project. Tens of thousands, if you count in the income I've had to forego to get keep the project going. Lest there be any doubt: I'm not any wealthier than you are. I'm just a wage-slave aerospace engineer who spends about a third of his life face-down in the public trough.
The lunar base will be owned by the people who invest in the space flight company which will carry out that part of the Artemis Project. We're working on a full prospectus for that company right now (September 1996). It will take a while -- many months at least -- to get this done; there's a lot going on in the Artemis Project right now and an open public offering of this magnitude is very complex.
The way the program is set up, The Lunar Resources Company will be one of many investors in this space flight company. You are welcome to evaluate the prospectus and, if you find the investment opportunity to be worthy, to purchase stock in this enterprise. (I'd love to wax lyrical in favor of dumping your life savings into this thing, but the Securities and Exchange Commission would take a dim view of that; and rightly so.)
Actually, it wouldn't be LRC stock, but rather stock in the moon base company. The answer is yes, we can pay employees in stock in the space flight company. However, from the standpoint of the individual, there is no difference between being paid in stock and being paid in cash and then deciding to use that cash to purchase stock.
If you receive stock in exchange for your work, that is taxable income, just like cash. So if you would not have paid that much cash for the stock, it's not a good deal.
From the company's standpoint, paying in stock might be desirable because it reduces the capital required. However, paying in stock also dilutes investors' equity and reduces return on investment. Since a cash investor's evaluation of a stock offering weighs return on investment vs. risk, anything that reduces ROI is a negative factor. We'll need real cash investors to buy spaceship parts, so we can't afford to dilute the ROI too much.
We can't pay people for doing just any old thing. If we did that, we would wind up paying for a lot of research into areas that don't get us to the moon. Maybe some day we'll be able to become a patron of speculative research, but not now. We can afford to pay people for products that get us to the moon and establish a permanent, self-supporting lunar community; and nothing else.
Nobody is "exploiting" anybody here, and nobody can. If you create something that has commercial value, and if someone else uses it, then you will be compensated for your product. The program is set up that way. The Artemis Society doesn't assume any rights other than the privilege of using what you contribute for Society stuff.
All this is explained on the web site. Read the policy on intellectual property.
Implied in the discussion is a belief that the Artemis Society somehow benefits The Lunar Resources Company. It does not. The Society is a drag on the company's resources, and it is the primary reason it's taking so long to get the commercial side of the project going.
We created the Artemis Society to open the playground for everyone who wants to participate in making this thing happen. It serves as a meeting ground and a think tank -- which definitely benefits the program -- but the Society is not the Artemis Project.
The Society does create some publicity, but the effect of that publicity is trivial compared to the kind of publicity if we invested the same amount of resources in commercial efforts. The important function of the Society is that it gives people a place to gather, after the commercial publicity has done its work.
The Society is a place to work through the concepts, and to learn. It's a place to meet other people with whom you might engage in research and business ventures associated with the Artemis Project. It is not a business unto itself; it is a society, a gathering of people with a common goal. If you want to make it work, you pay your dues and volunteer your time, just as I do. Perhaps reorganizing the Artemis Society as a non-profit foundation was a mistake. That seems to create the impression that the Society is something that it cannot be.
We could reorganize the Society again into some sort of commercial business enterprise, but I don't know the extent of legal implications of doing that now that we've incorporated it as a non-profit foundation. It doesn't sound like it would be as much fun to do it that way, and it would disenfranchise a lot of people; but if it gets us to the moon faster, then it might be worth considering. We did lose some membership benefits when we changed the Society to a non-profit foundation because they were things beyond the control of the Society, so there could be something gained to another change.
Nevertheless, the Society is working the way it is. I don't see that it's broke, so I couldn't champion the cause of fixing it.
If you find that you resent sharing your talent with other members of the Artemis Society because you are not financially compensated for it, then don't do it. Seriously; this is supposed to be fun, and if you're not enjoying it, try something else. The Society's committees exist for volunteers; nobody is obligated to contribute to them. You can make a very powerful contribution just by hosting a party for those who do enjoy the committee work. Don't underestimate the value of just your company, so that folks who put a lot of effort into something know that someone else appreciates it.
There are a lot of ways to have fun and contribute to the effort to get to the moon besides writing things for the Artemis Data Book. If money is what you're most interested in, then please do apply your creative talent to the commercial side of the project.
If that's still not a satisfactory answer to these questions, try the big step. If you don't like the way the Artemis Project is turning out, then please, start your own lunar program and do it your way. Maybe you'll get there ahead of us! That would be cool, because then we don't have to work so hard and we can enjoy the fruit of your labor. I mean that in all sincerety. If you have a better idea, then go for it!
We're following what we think is the fastest, most enduring route into space. But it is not the only approach. International Space Enterprises is working on some fascinating ideas for commercial aerospace projects. LunaCorp has a brilliant plan to get there and have lots of fun along the way with robots and telepresence. Several companies are working on new launch systems. I expect we'll get to the moon through the combined efforts of all these folks.
The important thing is that we're making progress, where just a few years ago there was no progress at all.
Think commercial. That's what the project is about. If getting to the moon is Worth Doing, then you should be able to think of a way to earn a profit from it. If you do this under the banner of the Artemis Project, all we ask is a little chunk of the money to buy aluminum.
No matter how you do it, though, don't forget:
Enjoy the adventure!