Lunar Base Advanced Planning Tech Committee
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Lunar Community Economic Model

An economic model of a lunar community would include a list of all the things that people need to live and thrive on the moon. We'd express it as a series of equations, but it starts with brainstorming a list of what people want. For instance, the average person in the lunar community might consume, per year:

       150 pounds of vegetables      1,000 hours of television watching
        60 pounds of meat              200 hours of telephone conversations
        30 pounds of fish                2 pairs of shoes
         3 pairs of trousers            10 sets of underwear
         4 shirts                       25 pints of beer
       100 pounds of paper           5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity
     1,000 pounds of water           4,000 pounds of oxygen
        30 whatevers of cosmetics       40 ounces of deodorant
         2 toothbrushes                 24 ounces of toothpaste

(Don't believe those numbers. I'm just making up this example off the top of my head.)

We keep adding to that list until we've identified everything the average person would like to have available. We might skimp here and there compared to what we'd have on Earth.

The next step is to figure out how much industry is needed to supply all those things: so many acres of cotton, of corn, of wheat, of pineapples; so many head of cattle, pigs, chickens; so many tons of iron, aluminum; so many board-feet of wood and tons of wood pulp, hence so many acres of forest.

While adding up what we're consuming, we also add up what we're producing. That average person is cranking out so many tons of human waste, waste paper, expired water and carbon dioxide, waste water, fish bones, empty glass bottles, glass jars, and so on.

When all that is put together, we look at how to get those industries started. What's the minimum amount of stuff we can import from Earth and still have the community thrive and grow at a reasonable rate? At what rate do we have to import it? Do we ship hydrogen and carbon as methane (CH4)? Or do we ship it in some other form? How fast does trash pile up? How much of the trash is recyclable, and what piles up because although it's recyclable we don't use it fast enough to consume it all?

When we know all those numbers, we can estimate how many man-hours it takes to produce each thing the people need. I suspect they'll be busy, but if the lunar community can survive at all without working its people to death, it will thrive. We can convert man-hours to people, and with an estimate of the cost of operating that fleet of rockets that Adam London's technical committee is working on, we can calculate the cost of importing the stuff we need from Earth.

The cost of imports and the number of man-hours needed to produce the goods and services the lunar community wants are the most important factors. We want to keep the cost of imports to a minimum because the lunar community has to produce goods they can sell on Earth for an equal amount of money.

That's a key point. I've hundred hundreds of papers about lunar bases, but not one that assumed the lunar community would be mostly internally self-sufficient. Our goal is to design a lunar community which will have a positive balance of payments. That is, they sell more to people on Earth than they buy from them.

Tourism will probably be the key industry. Every time someone from Earth spends a dollar in the casino on the moon, that dollar becomes a debt that Earth owes to the moon. The moon can use that dollar to import the things they need from Earth. The tourist industry will probably also pay landing fees for the commercial rockets and an atmosphere fee per person per day; those will be hidden in the price of the ticket. The economy of Hawaii would probably be an excellent example.

Ideally, we'll minimize the capital investment required, so that the lunar community operates near break-even for its first several years.

As the equations get set up, we turn them over to the programmers. This model could be set up as a spreadsheet or as a series of linear equations operating in the time domain. That's how it becomes a "model". I'm an old veteran of writing simulators, so I tend to think in terms of simulator models even when we're pushing money and goods around instead of pushing airplanes through the air and spacecraft through the cosmos.

Lunar Transportation System Economic Model

An economic model of the lunar transportation industry is a bit more straightforward because it only needs to concern itself with the logistics of getting the passengers to the moon. I believe Adam's committee has a pretty good handle on that one, but we still need to set up the equations and run out some cashflow projections.

Lunar Base Advanced Planning Tech Committee

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