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How to colonize space on the cheap
A new NASA-funded study (see this news article) shows how to colonize the Moon (the sensible next step for where we are now) at 1/10th the cost of previous proposals:

Quote:The study, performed by NexGen Space LLC and partly funded by NASA, concludes that the space agency could land humans on the Moon in the next five to seven years, build a permanent base 10 to 12 years after that, and do it all within the existing budget for human spaceflight. The way for NASA to do this is to adopt the same practice that it's using for resupplying the International Space Station (and will eventually use for crew transport) — public-private partnerships with companies like SpaceX, Orbital ATK, or the United Launch Alliance.

[Image: Lunar-Base-Short-Caption.0.png]

Also interesting is the reduction in launch prices pointed out in the article — from $46k per kilogram for the Saturn V, to $60k per kg for the Shuttle (oops, that's progress in the wrong direction), to the modern cost of under $5k per kg for the SpaceX Falcon 9.

So, ignoring the Shuttle as a bit of an anomaly, that's a 92% reduction in price in 42 years.

Just for fun, let's assume that pace of improvement continues: in conservatively round numbers, let's say it's a 90% reduction every 50 years.  This is much slower than the improvement in computers and many other techy things, but let's say that's just how it is with space launch.  So, it's currently about $5k/kg, but in 2065, that'd be $500/kg, and in 2115, $50/kg.  (At that point, it would cost about $3700 to launch me into orbit, based on my mass alone... but a ticket would probably still cost $10k!)

For the purposes of High Frontier, we will probably assume a price-drop curve something like this.  Better a guess based on data than a guess based on nothing at all, right?

Joe Strout
Lead Developer, High Frontier


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How to colonize space on the cheap - JoeStrout - 07-21-2015, 12:02 PM

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