Lunar Base Advanced Planning Tech Committee
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Lunar Base Advanced Planning Tech Committee Tasks

The Lunar Base Advance Planning Technical Committee is a group which researches alternative revenue generation, expansion, and resource management for the lunar outpost. It basically watches the long-term forecast of the moonbase to avoid the Artemis Project making short-sighted decisions.

This technical committee's primary product is the Artemis Project Long-Range Plan. Much of the information currently available is in the "Vision" section of the Artemis Data Book.

A good way to approach this issue is to use the same method we're using for everything else in the program:

  1. Develop a strawman plan, identifying a baseline and options.
  2. Get reliable inputs to correct the long-range plan.
  3. Iterate back to Step 1.

The number one question is money. How will the lunar community support itself in the long run?

The committee's work can be planned around that one question. We need a long-range economic model. There are many associated questions:

  1. How much will it cost to support the lunar community?

    See the study on lunar tourism for some notes about the economics of running a tourist business on the moon.

  2. What resources does the community need vs. size of population?

  3. What businesses would be on the moon other than tourism?

    We will leave helium-3 out of the picture, or at least keep it separate from the rest of the analysis. Compared to the economic impact of helium-3, everything else shrinks to insignificance. Since we don't know if He3 will even work, that's too much of a long shot to bet on.

    A lunar observatory complex supporting radio and visual spectrum astronomical work is one possiblity. Even if a researcher cost $100,000 for a stay on the moon, it would be worth it compared to the total cost of, for example, observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Permanent residents -- people who want to live on the moon for the sake of living on the moon -- are another example. Think of the moon like Hawaii. Besides people employed in the tourism or agricultural industries, who lives there?

  4. What are the technological issues associated with each revenue source, and how much will it cost to solve them?

    Capital is the big issue here. Break-even won't do it; lunar industry has to compete with Earth business for capital. That means Return On Investment has to be weighed against risk.

  5. How much of the lunar economy will be internal, and how much requires trade with Earth? In the really long range, what's the impact of asteroid mining? Mars? Space colonies?

    There is a lot of discussion regarding the technology involved in providing life support, but there's more to the lunar economy than chemical elements and potatoes. A tour through the Yellow Pages index will give you a shopping list of goods and services people want. We have to provide all those things, whatever they are; or in a few cases, the lunar equivalent.

    We'll probably find that a big lava tube or two, with moon farms and a metals industry, brings the lunar economy to more than 90% self-sufficient. That means that only 10% of the "Gross Lunar Product" would need to be invested in goods from Earth.

  6. What's the lunar community's balance of payments over time?

    The goal, of course, is to have a positive cash flow. In estimating balance of payments, don't forget that many (perhaps most, perhaps all) lunar industry will be owned by stockholders on Earth. So profit earned on the moon will not necessarily stay on the moon.

The Artemis Project Long-Range Plan might also include sections on technology and political issues. Those are less important because if the financials work, the rest will take care of themselves. Avoiding discussions of political structures on the moon would probably be a good idea.

Lunar Base Advanced Planning Tech Committee

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