Cheap access to space (CAtS) is not necessary

As I’ve covered in other posts, we don’t need high-tech and expensive rockets to make Lunar settlement a reality. I’ve also covered the idea that settlements are established BEFORE transportation infrastructure is built. Finally, we know that the initial transportation costs become less important the longer the mission runs. We can do this right now with the rockets we already have.

SpaceX is already bringing launch costs down with their reusable rockets. A Falcon 9 launch cost $62 million in 2018 [80]. I couldn’t find a number for how much mass a Falcon 9 could land directly on the Lunar surface but apparently it can send 4,020 kg (8,860 lbs.) to Mars [80]. The Falcon Heavy costs $90 million per launch and can deliver 16,800 kg (37,040 lbs.) to Mars [80]. These vehicles already exist and have flown multiple missions. SpaceX’s Starship (not flown yet) is supposed to cut the cost even further. I’d say we’ve already achieved as much CAtS as we’re going to need.

Now, these prices aren’t cheap for the average person obviously. However, they’re not that expensive either. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is the most expensive cruise ship built to date (2020), clocking in at $1.4 billion [81]. Heck, the world’s largest private yacht cost $600 million to build [82]. The point I’m trying to make is that there is a lot of money out there for large projects.

The great thing about all this is that other people (with more smarts and money than I have) are constantly working on making space transportation (at least the Earth to LEO component) less expensive. Lunar Homestead doesn’t even have to worry about it! By the time we have the Homesteading tech ready the transportation problem will already be solved.

As for the rest of the cis-Lunar transportation architecture, Lunar Homesteads are the answer. Existing Homesteads are the REASON for building those transportation systems. Homesteads are going to need the occasional resupply and they are going to want to get their products into the cis-Lunar market. More and more people are going to want to create, or join, Lunar settlements. The increasing demand for connectivity and capacity will create the Cheap Access to Space that we all want to see.

Resources

80) https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

81) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34276610/ns/travel-cruise_travel/t/oasis-seas-worth-price/

82) https://www.businessinsider.com/largest-yacht-in-the-world-the-azzam-2013-8

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