THE ARTEMIS PROJECT
PRIVATE ENTERPRISE ON THE MOON
Sample Return Business Plan Summary
Section 5.5.3.1.
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Lunar Sample Return Business Plan Summary

The goal of the Lunar Sample Return Project is to land a probe on the moon which returns a quantity of moon rocks to Earth to be sold for a profit. The revenues will be used to fund further sample return missions, and be invested in the Lunar Base Development Fund to help pay for the manned exploration base. This project is also an opportunity to gain credibility for commercial planetary space flight, especially for the Artemis Project, to gain additional hands-on experience with space missions for the Artemis Project team, and to establish infrastructure which can be reused for subsequent missions.

The Lunar Sample Return Project is an exciting venture to return to the moon, for profit. A rocket would place a small spacecraft in Earth Orbit, from where it would fire its engines to travel to and land on the moon. A small telerobot would then explore the landing site and collect lunar rocks and moon dust, which would then be sent back through space to an ocean splashdown with about 4 tons of lunar regolith.

The program cost is estimated to be about US$420 million. Such a low program cost is possible by using technologies established by previous government space ventures, by building to commercial aerospace standards, and the lack of a large government bureaucracy. Funding comes from a combination of direct investment through sale of stock, advance sales, and debt financing.

The program revenues are to be determined; however, there is a high probability that the program will generate substantial profit. As an example. for about 5 cents worth of lunar rock it is possible to make a 1 cm square slide, which could be mounted on a marble plaque and sold for substantially more then the cost of the rock and casing. Other uses for the lunar material include jewelry, enhancement to more mundane products, and of course scientific samples. Estimates of the revenues this mission are usually over a billion dollars. There is currently an effort underway to determine approximate revenues in more detail.

These first financial estimates are simply calculations using reasonable assumptions, and gathering marketing data by carefully grilling coworkers. A formal market survey would provide confidence in the basis of estimate, but a low-cost survey would be worthless because concept shock would mar the results. Plans for a full, more accurate, market survey are being developed based on first introducing the concept through the Artemis Project.

Sample Return Business Plan Summary

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