SpaceX could use the electric skateboard of the Cybertruck to build all the of vehicles that they need for a lunar mining operation. About twenty-five to thirty cybertrucks could be delivered to the moon with every SpaceX Starship.
A lunar base and mining operation would lower the cost for lunar operations by 70 times and by ten times for high earth orbit. A lunar mining operation would also lower the cost of operations to Mars and the SpaceX plans for a city on Mars. Before, Elon Musk makes a city on Mars using a dozen fleets of one hundred Starships he will build a mining town on the moon.
Cybertrucks could be converted into bulldozers and mining machines.
Nextbigfuture has noted that with about 20 lunar missions with SpaceX Starships, SpaceX could build a one gigawatt industrial moon base. This would use solar power and batteries.
Philip Metzger has a study of mining water on the moon. If water is mined on the moon then it could save satellite missions to geosynchronous orbits about $100 million. If SpaceX can build the Moon base and mining operation for about $4-10 billion, then they could easily capture the $2-3 billion in revenue from providing lunar water for space operations.
Metzger study identified a near-term annual demand of 450 metric tons of lunar-derived propellant equating to 2,450 metric tons of processed lunar water generating $2.4 billion of revenue annually.
Water can be mined on the Moon, delivered to a gas station, sold to operators of the space tug, who will then boost the satellite to its final orbit for much less than $100 million per spacecraft. Here is the link to the 189-page water mining on the moon report.
It has been discovered that instead of excavating, hauling, and processing, lightweight tents and/or heating augers can be used to extract the water resource directly out of the regolith in place. Water will be extracted from the regolith by sublimation—heating ice to convert it into water vapor without going through the liquid phase. This water vapor can then be collected on a cold surface for transport to a processing plant where electrolysis will decompose the water into its constituent parts (hydrogen and oxygen).
To achieve production demand with this method, 2.8 megawatts of power is required (2 megawatts electrical and 0.8 megawatts thermal). Metzger assumed 15 individual panels of 900 square meters each to meet our power requirement assuming 29% PV efficiency from ROSA and a 54% power beaming efficiency) to support the 2.8MW power requirement.
Ten SpaceX Starships could deliver thirty times as much power to the moon for a larger mining operation than the Metzger proposal.
The majority of the electrical power will be needed in the processing plant, where water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. This substantial amount of power can come from solar panels, sunlight reflected directly to the extraction site, or nuclear power. Because the bottoms of the polar craters are permanently shadowed, captured solar energy must be transported from locations of sunlight (crater rim) via power beaming or power cables or using solar mounted on towers.
The equipment needed for this lunar propellant operation will be built from existing technologies that have been modified for the specific needs on the Moon. Surprisingly little new science is required to build this plant. Extensive testing on Earth will precede deployment to the Moon, to ensure that the robotics, extraction, chemical processing and storage all work together efficiently. The contributors to this study are those who are currently developing or have already developed the equipment required to enable this capability. From a technological perspective, a lunar propellant production plant is highly feasible.
As refueling decreases in-space transportation costs, entirely new business and exploration opportunities will emerge with potential to vastly benefit the economies of Earth. Even with the early customers identified within this study, it has been determined that this could be a profitable investment with excellent growth opportunities.
SOURCES- Metzger Report, SpaceX, Hypebeast, Joel Sercel, NASA NIAC
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
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.
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