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Dr. Phil Metzger @DrPhiltill
, 10 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
"Closing the business case for mining propellants on the Moon," by @george_sowers, formerly chief scientist of @ulalaunch now faculty at Colorado School of Mines.
2/ The concept is not to use rovers that dig and haul regolith with ice to a processing plant, but instead to heat the ground with mirrors and capture the sublimed vapors in a tent as it diffuses from the ground.
3/ Julie Brisset & I at @UCF are funded to do physics-based computer simulation of this process in collaboration with them. More work is needed, but so far the results are very promising. There are enough "knobs" to turn in the design that we feel confident we can make it work.
4/ Projected 9% rate of return with no government partnership is ok but lower than you'd normally want for a risky venture. But with NASA in a public-private partnership the projected 16% rate of return looks great. But what is in it for NASA?...
5/ Before answering that, here is the cash flow analysis showing where the mining company recovers its capital investment and is making a net profit from this venture, for both cases with and without NASA partnership. #2018SRR
6/ And here is what @NASA gets out of it. It makes operating a lunar outpost more affordable, and NASA's entire investment is recovered IN THE FIRST YEAR, producing a net savings for the lunar outpost. The savings are even higher beginning in year two.
7/ And it reduces the cost of Mars missions by a factor of 2-3. And it has tremendous long-term benefit to humanity and planet Earth. Many considerations suggest it is time for us to stop doing everything from within the restrictions of 1 planet, which hurts both the planet & us.
8/ The commercial customers of this water mined on the Moon include, e.g., reusable space tugs that boost communication satellites. This can make consumer data (Internet, TV, etc.) cheaper while also helping humanity solve the big global problems & helping NASA. Win-win-win.
9/ Even if the numbers are modestly optimistic rendering this subeconomic (but we don't think that's the case), the revenue stream is still real & makes this possibly the cheapest way for governments to begin bootstrapping industry in space to gain many giant long-term benefits.
10/ To learn more about space resources, follow the tweets all week at #2018SRR.
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