Google and others have used the term Moonshots to define highly ambitious technological projects and a mindset of big goals.
What is the history and the future of actual moonshots?
There were 6 manned landings on the moon.
There were 60 failed moon missions. There were 36 launch failures and 21 spacecraft failures and a few partial failures.
There are now 23 funded moon missions. There are 19 unmanned moon and four planned manned moon missions over the next 5 years.
There are 9 proposed but unfunded unmanned missions and four other proposed manned moon programs in the 2030s.
There are four SpaceX Falcon 9 missions and one Starship mission (Dear Moon – Japanese Billionaire).
From 2024 onwards, the 2023 Starship mission and having dozens of fully reusable Super Heavy Starships will open the door to regular moon missions.
The historically best year for moon missions was 7 successful missions in 1967. There were four successful missions in 2007. There are five missions planned for 2020 and 6 for 2021.
If SpaceX is able to convert existing Merlin Engine plants to building Raptor engines, then they could build about one dozen Super Heavy Starships each year. SpaceX can build about 500 engines a year.
Building 100 Starships/year gets to 1000 in 10 years or 100 megatons/year or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2020
SpaceX could price moon missions with a fixed cost of $100 million. This price would cover loss of the rocket one out of every three landings. Moon missions would become safer and more reliable by building landing pads on the moon.
NASA is spending about $10+ billion for each SLS (Space Launch System) moon mission.
Even with $400 million for the mission portion and $100 million for the launch, $6 billion per year would be enough to fund monthly manned missions to the moon.
This would support the construction and operation of large manned bases on the moon.
The Zubrin moon direct plan describes the establishment of operations for producing fuel from ice with just two Falcon Heavy missions.
Fuel produced on the moon would mean sub-orbital hopping that explores the entire lunar surface.
The cost of unmanned moon flights would drop towards the $5-10 million incremental cost of a reusable SpaceX Super Heavy Starship.
Unmanned moon missions could become a weekly and even daily occurrence in the late 2020s.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.