#90 November 1995
Section 188.8.131.52.090.of the Artemis Data Book
The Artemis Project is a privately financed commercial venture to establish a permanent, manned lunar base and to exploit the resources of the moon for future development of space travel. The first Artemis flight places a habitat on the moon for permanent occupation.
The goals of the project are to build a permanent manned base on the moon, to exploit lunar resources for profit, to demonstrate that manned space flight is within the reach of private enterprise, and to bootstrap private industry into manned space flight. Artemis is unique among proposals for developing a moon base because it is a 100% privately financed commercial venture which will place the first element of the lunar base on the moon within the next decade, and because it will show a profit from the first flight to the moon.
Previous moon base studies have based their cost models on the performance of government projects and assumed revenues would come only after decades of development. The resulting high capital costs and long term before realizing any profit made it impossible for private enterprise to finance a manned space venture; but by using standard commercial business practices, costs can be reduced to less than 10% of a similar government-sponsored program. Additionally, Artemis reduces its costs by using technology and resources already developed in previous manned space flight programs.
Our current estimate for the cost of the first flight is about $1.3 billion. This level of investment is quite common in the business world. For example, one new deep-water oil rig typically costs about one billion dollars.
Artemis will pay for its initial development by exploiting the entertainment value of the first flights. We estimate the market value of the first flight from all sources to be significantly higher than its cost.
This is why the first mission must be manned; the entertainment value of a robotic flight is not sufficient to pay the bills. The estimated revenues are based on comparisons to similar mass-marketing ventures which tie movies or television shows in with associated products. The Apollo program was run with engineering precision, its drama hidden by the need for a government agency to present an unflagging image of confidence to the world. In contrast, The Artemis Project is designed to be entertaining from the start. With half a dozen science fiction writers already working on the project, we should be able to attain that goal and still retain the appeal which sets the project apart from science fiction productions - the Artemis Project is real.
In short, we plan to pay for the initial stages of the project through shameless commercialism.
The reference mission is being used in the current feasibility study to determine costs, revenues, and technical and political issues. Two Space Shuttle launches put the Artemis hardware into low Earth orbit, where the moon vehicle is assembled. Our crew goes up on the second Shuttle flight. The space station is used as a staging base in the reference mission. If it is not available, we launch the first element on one flight and then rendezvous with it on the next flight. In that case our crew uses the Shuttle as a staging base for assembling the Artemis spacecraft.
The lunar transfer vehicle is a small spaceborne habitat with propulsion systems and support for the crew during flight between Earth and Lunar orbits. Its rockets are used to fly to lunar orbit. The reference mission uses a trajectory almost identical to the Apollo flights.
Upon arrival in lunar orbit, the lunar base core module with its descent rockets separates from the lunar transfer vehicle and lands on the surface of the moon using a propulsion package attached to the core module's pressurized habitat. The lunar transfer vehicle remains in lunar orbit, unmanned, while the crew descends to the surface.
On the moon, the crew levels the lunar base habitat and reconfigures the lunar base for permanent operation. The crew conducts extravehicular activity to assay the site and gather samples of the lunar regolith (moon dirt). They film activities throughout the flight, both stock footage and scripted scenes for later use in movies and documentaries.
When surface activities are complete, the crew boards the ascent stage and makes the two-hour flight to rendezvous with the orbiting lunar transfer vehicle. The ascent stage is a simple, open vehicle, so crew members depend on their space suits for life support. Except for not being able to quickly return to base in an emergency, the hazards to the crew during ascent are no greater than two hours outside on the moon's surface.
After docking the ascent stage to the LTV, the crew returns to Earth, where they use their rockets to enter Earth orbit for a rendezvous with the space station. They leave the transportation system in orbit for use on later flights to lower the cost of future development. The lunar transfer vehicle may be used at the space station for additional laboratory space between flights, or it may be leased for other operations in Earth orbit. After the Artemis vehicles have been secured at the space station, the crew returns to Earth on the next available Shuttle flight.
Once the crew goes home, a telerobot is used to bury the core module in moon dirt for thermal insulation as well as protection from radiation and meteoroids. The robot may also be able to get camera footage of the Artemis stack's initial descent to the lunar surface. This will be first time any vehicle has been recorded landing on the moon.
Early in the project, we decided to go back to the tradition of using names from ancient mythology for manned space flight programs. Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo carried human beings to the moon in less than ten years, but manned space programs lost sight of their exploratory nature and fell into lethargic bureaucracy when they adopted more pedestrian names like Skylab, the Space Shuttle, and the Space Station.
Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. She is the moon, and Apollo is the Sun. Artemis is also the goddess of the hunt, a constant reminder that our project is a voyage of exploration, a venture which will live off the land in its travels and return products of great value to our home on Earth.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto