Rationalizing the Moon, 2018 Edition

When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work, but rather awaken within men the desire for the vast and endless sea.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Here We Go Again

In this present era of national challenges which demand the attention of policymakers and the public it is more important than ever for the space community to reflect on the purpose of human space exploration. What value does it hold? 

The above quote is from a very insightful article ” Why Should we Go?:Reevaluating the Rationales for Human Spaceflight in the 21st Century” by Cody Knipfer at the Space Review blog on October 16th of last year, before the signing by president Trump of Space Policy Directive #1, issued December 11th, 2017.  The money quote of the directive is here:

“Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;”.

In Cody’s October 2017 article there are many insights, that while not unknown to those in the space arena, are generally not part of the conversation, at least in the halls of power where decisions over the allocation of national resources is made.  This was certainly true after the initial success of the Apollo lunar landings that fulfilled the national geopolitical goal of beating the Russians, after which political and thus financial support largely evaporated exactly because other competing interests were able to formulate a more compelling rational for the use of limited taxpayer dollars. It is a myth that space was cut as part of a deficit spending control issue by the Johnson administration.  I delve into this in a previous blog, linked here.  Please read it for the details, suffice to say that the overall federal budget increased dramatically while at the same time NASA’s budget was cut by over 50% from fiscal year 1966 to 1970.  The following quote from Cody’s article succinctly summaries the situation where government funding is concerned.

Those who advance the cause of publicly-funded human spaceflight find themselves operating in a larger political context and competing against equally worthy causes. To win support (and money), the rationale they put forth needs to be persuasive across a broad spectrum of political factions, appeal to potential supporters and opponents, and meet the perceived needs of large and diverse economic and political constituencies. In lack of a persuasive rationale, a proposed effort will be superseded by others seen by the broader polity as more realistically and immediately achievable or necessary.

This is a well known history at NASA but in spite of that we have never had the rationale for more expansive government funding of space to gain a larger share of the national funding pie.  Just one illustration from the decision regarding the Shuttle shows the tension.

The 1999 NASA “The Space Shuttle Decision” (NASA SP-4221) by T.A. Heppenheimer has a discusses the countervailing arguments to spending money for various forms of the Space Shuttle.  Congress was very much opposed to a continuing expansive NASA.  As the cadre of original NASA supporters who were allies of Lyndon Johnson either retired or defected over the Vietnam war and the demands of escalating social programs, congress decisively turned against NASA.  Just one small example from SP-4221, a quote from a speech from democratic senator Walter Mondale:

This item involves a fundamental and profound decision about the future direction of the manned spaceflight era.This is, in fact,the nextmoon-type program. I believe it would be unconscionable to embark on a project of such staggering cost when many of our citizens are malnourished, when our rivers and lakes are polluted, and when our cities and rural areas are dying. What are our values? What do we think is more important? [page 183]

Things have not changed in the last half century of efforts to return humans to the Moon and go on to Mars.  Dr. John Marburger, head of the Office of Science and Technology poly restated this tension in his Goddard Symposium speech in March of 2006.

Opportunities exist in other fields of physical science as well, such as nuclear and particle physics, space science and exploration, but these are not emphasized in the Competitiveness Initiative. Not that the U.S. is withdrawing from these fields, but ACI does signal an intention to fund the machinery of science in a way that ensures continued leadership in fields likely to have the greatest impact on future technology and innovation. The decision to make this needed adjustment for selected fields does not imply a downgrading of priority for other important areas of science, such as biomedical research and space science. These remain priorities, but the agencies that fund them are regarded as having budgets much more nearly commensurate with the opportunities, challenges, and benefits to be gained from pursuing these fields. As the nation pursues other critically important objectives, including reducing the budget deficit, the ACI gives priority to a small number of areas to ensure future U.S. economic competitiveness.. (Marburger 2006 Goddard Symposium Speech)

This speech was two years after the G.W. Bush administration’s Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) which had as its first goal for human spaceflight a return to the Moon. The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) referenced above was another Bush era program that they thought would bring more benefits to the economy in a shorter period of time than the VSE and space and thus funding was applied there rather than dramatically increasing space funding.

The Obama administration was no different in this regard.  The $863 billion stimulus bill very little NASA money in it.  After the Augustine commission report to the new administration saying that NASA needed $3 billion more per year for what it was being asked to do, this was the response by the administration.

Now it is up to the White House to decide which path to take. “Too soon to say,” is all that one Administration official would offer. Health care and other bigger fish may put the future of space on the backburner until closer to the release of the 2011 budget request early next year. (Sciencemag.com)

The Obama administration had other priorities and in the middle of what would be a $1 trillion per year increase in overall government spending during the Obama administration, NASA’s budget was cut by $2 billion per year.  It took congressional pressure after the 2010 take over of the house by the Republican caucus to result in any improvement in the budget.   Other priorities for sure….

Now we have a new administration with a new policy that on the surface looks like the policy statement that was announced in 2004 by the Bush administration for what was termed “The Vision for Space Exploration”.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy head Dr. John Marburger in his 2006 Goddard Symposium speech gave his take on what that meant.

As I see it, questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the Solar System in our economic sphere, or not. Our national policy, declared by President Bush and endorsed by Congress last December in the NASA authorization act, affirms that, “The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program.” So at least for now the question has been decided in the affirmative.

The wording of this policy phrase is significant. It subordinates space exploration to the primary goals of scientific, security, and economic interests. Stated this way, the “fundamental goal” identifies the benefits against which the costs of exploration can be weighed. This is extremely important for policy making because science, security, and economic dimensions are shared by other federally funded activities. By linking costs to these common benefits it becomes possible, at least in principle, to weigh investments in space exploration against competing opportunities to achieve benefits of the same type.

In the Trump administration Space Policy Directive #1 succinct statement on the subject is in keeping with the Bush era VSE but it goes goes farther than the Bush era formulation in a profound fashion.

enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities

Enabling human expansion across the solar system is a stunning statement, never before uttered as official policy.  Interestingly enough, in studying the meaning of the words used, the Bush era “Vision” was really a statement of “rationales” while the Trump SPD#1 is a vision statement.

Rationale vs Vision


In order to more perfectly explain why the Trump formulation is different and indeed more profound we must delve into word meanings.  Remember that this missive was started by restating something from Cody Knipfer’s article on the rationales of why we want to go into space with humans in the 21st century.

In the dictionary the word rationale is defined as:

“a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or a particular belief”

The dictionary term conventionally for vision is (in the context of the VSE):

mode of seeing or conceiving

This meaning would translate the “Vision for Space Exploration” as the “Conception for Space Exploration”, or the “seeing”.  This harkens back to a much older term for the word “vision”.

However, there is a much older meaning, from the Hebrew equivalent of the english word that is important to consider:

חזה : to gaze at; mentally to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically to have a vision of:—behold, look, prophesy, provide, see.

Thus I can argue that the original VSE as Marburger explained it was much more of a set of rational economic trades between outcomes that are the result of comparing the value of spending money in one area or another (space or on the ground).  In this sense the VSE was not that different than previous space policies despite the verbiage used by Bush and Marburger. On the other hand the SPD#1 is a vision statement.  Enabling human expansion across the solar system is not a rationale, it is a conception, a vision in the sense of the dreamer that envisions a future in space and that from this action, this effort, indeed the faith that practical results will flow that justifies the expenditure.


Thus the comparison is this: A rationale is a forward looking set of reasons for space based upon our current knowledge base regarding its payoff and those reasons are traded against competing rationales for the expenditure for funding in other areas.  A vision is a visionary look into the future to see where a certain set of efforts will place us in X number of years to bring about a certain outcome.  A vision provides a focusing mechanism for the mind, and this brings others into the vision stream, those who agree with the vision and who are willing to work to bring it to pass.

In a fight between rationales we (space) are not going to win as it becomes a test between competing interests and power structures.  Indeed Knipfer references how the only way that people see a way for space policy to win in this environment is the following.

Recognizing the pressures involved in public policymaking, the geopolitical rationale appears, at least historically, the most significant and compelling. Underlying this is the fact that international events and circumstances, acting as forcing functions, can either heighten or lessen human spaceflight’s stature as an element of public policy and policymakers’ willingness to allocate resources toward it. Human spaceflight has, at least historically, been most valued as a part of the foreign policy “toolbox,” as a method to deal with emerging external challenges. As Roger Handberg put in his Rationales of the Space Program,

one needs an incentive, a compelling focusing event, strong enough to break through the existing political status quo and to place the issue of space on the policy agenda for political decision-making and policy formulation.”

The Apollo program had this focusing event in our cold war contest of technology with the Russians.  The Shuttle focusing event was the 1972 election and the health of the aerospace industry that otherwise was in serious trouble.  The International Space Station event was the fall of the Soviet Union and the desire to keep the missile engineers from going to work for the Iranians or other hostile powers.  The return to the Moon and or the Journey to Mars has never had this focusing event as it is essentially science driven which has a small constituency, or for the ephemeral and not salable concept (in our current age) of “prestige”.  Even the economic rationale’s have fallen flat in the halls of power simply because politicians have found other means to enhance their prospects for reelection by showering money on more powerful constituencies.  However, it is the vision of space as a place of humanity’s future that is seeming to catch on.

Just about everyone today agrees that Elon Musk is a space visionary.  Elon began with a vision of landing a greenhouse on Mars that would have a camera that would watch plants grow.  It was his hope that this would inspire people to see Mars as a future home for humanity.  We all know today that Elon has done a great deal to move his vision forward.  From SpaceX to Tesla Elon is developing technologies and systems to do what he aspires to do, which is for him to die on Mars (hopefully not during a landing mishap).  It is this vision that has driven SpaceX.  This vision has attracted thousands of people to work there and to become part of that vision, which indeed is a vision for a positive future for humanity.  People “see” the vision and agree with it and place their lives in service to that vision (and get paid for it!).

In executing on his vision, it is not about the process (which is the full focus of the current aerospace industry in government contracts, which due to the laws involved constrains their ability to lower prices for commercial contracts), its about getting there, and at the lowest cost.  What once was considered crazy by the aerospace establishment (reusability of a launch vehicle stage) is now the subject of a global effort by other nations to catch up (by those same contractors that like process over results).  Elon has completely disrupted the status quo because the vision of colonizing Mars is far more important to him than squeezing the last dollar out of a government or commercial contract.  Indeed building more rockets, flying them more often, and figuring out ways to lower costs and prices does more to help reach the visionary goal, and thus that is what he does and fortunately it is also profitable.

Jeff Bezos also has that visionary bent as well as the money to carry it out.  His work on full reusability for the New Shepard and now the New Glenn vehicle will help him reach his visionary goal of millions of humans living and working in space.  He is somewhat behind Elon but with his vastly larger financial resources, it will be only a few more years before he catches up.  This will profoundly shake the status quo in aerospace and indeed both of them together are a forcing function and creators of opportunity for other new entrants.

There are other companies and people out there who want to mine asteroids, industrialize the Moon (this writer), build thousands of satellites for planetary internet, persistent Earth observation, satellite servicing, on orbit manufacturing (this writer), and other activities. A crescendo of activity is building, and at the core of it is a vision for how space can transform our society for the better and provide humanity a better future, especially better than the doomsayers that so often point out how we are doomed.


In reflecting on the above, it has become my position that focusing on rationales is a futile effort, at least in the near term.  Far better to focus on visionary principles and projects that will enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. The question becomes, what can we do as a community to bring this about.  What government policies can we get adopted (rather than a singular focus on how much money we can get from the government) that will foster the human expansion across the solar system and bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.  Thus we have a goal (human expansion across the solar system) and a return on investment (new knowledge and opportunities).


I want to remind those that have read my previous missives on this subject of a graphic from 1960 from a talk by General Electric Chairman of the Board Ralph Cordiner who gave a speech on the economic development of the solar system in a pre-Apollo era pre-Kennedy presidency speech.

Cordiner fig 3
The Economic Development of the Solar System, the Expanding Circle

If it is our goal to enable human expansion across the solar system, I would submit that it be done in a cost effective manner, but just as Elon has done with SpaceX, keep our eyes on the eventual prize of the solar system.  In thinking about the problem, it is not tenable for everything that humans need across the solar system to be derived from the Earth.  It is simply too costly to do so. Thus, it would seem to logically flow that in situ resource utilization be a key element driving the success of the effort, and with that this is a principal focus of the initial effort.  Since we are very fortunate to have one of the larger airless bodies in the solar system right next door (the Moon of course), then it seems logical to start there.  This lowers operational costs, provides a near term focus for resource extraction, processing, and off planet manufacturing that are crucial elements for a successful enablement of humans spreading across the solar system.  Energy is the other crucial element that should go hand in hand with resource development.

This is why I have been focused on lunar industrialization.  If we can do this on the Moon, then in theory we can do it anywhere else in the solar system.  I have gone into great detail regarding some of the first steps of this in a previous blog linked here and papers that I have done that are accessible online here.  I will be following up this blog regarding some of the further steps toward lunar industrialization and how that fits in with enabling human expansion across the solar system.

Vision versus rationale is an interesting study in comparative philosophy as well as a means whereby we can make progress.  It would take a book long exposition but there are many times in the American past where visions of the future have driven the nation forward.  There was the vision of “aeronautics” that started in the mid 1800s that you can read about in the book “With Brass and Gas”.  There was the vision of an intercontinental railroad that began in the 1820’s that was not consummated until the “National Railroad” of 1869 as told in the book “The Empire Express”.  We could go on about Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of the Panama Canal, the aviation industry, space before Apollo and many others…

As much as anything else it has been positive visions of the future, carried out by visionaries that have changed the world like nothing else in our long human history.  That is our story, and that is were we should draw our inspiration and our strength…








10 thoughts on “Rationalizing the Moon, 2018 Edition

  1. “Since we are very fortunate to have one of the larger airless bodies in the solar system right next door (the Moon of course), then it seems logical to start there. This lowers operational costs, provides a near term focus for resource extraction, processing, and off planet manufacturing that are crucial elements for a successful enablement of humans spreading across the solar system. Energy is the other crucial element that should go hand in hand with resource development.”

    I think energy is the vision- not other crucial element, but primary or sole element. Space is the Earth’s source of future energy.
    Before Space can be the source of future energy for Earth, the cost/price of energy in space must be lowered. So price of electrical power in space for use in space must be lower.
    Also for mars settlement the price of electrical power on Mars must be lowered to have Mars settlements. And I think a key element for Mars settlements is for price electrical energy on the Moon to lower in price.
    The significant of lunar water is to make rocket fuel, but bigger picture is making rocket fuel on the Moon create a market for electrical power on the Moon. And will lower the price of electrical
    power in space.
    The price of electrical power on the Moon can start at around 50 to 75 dollars per kW hour.
    The price of electrical power on Mars probably can’t start at 50 to 75 dollars per Kw hour for human settlements [Mars towns]- though price/cost electrical power needed for exploration- a NASA Mars [and/or Lunar] program- is not important or not even metric.
    [Or it’s the total yearly or entire program cost which is important and that NASA want to charge $2000 per kw hour for “extra” electrical power for experiments at ISS has little bearing on the ISS program- other than it’s silly/unwise/arbitrary choice to charge such a rate]
    Anyhow I think electrical power at $75 per Kw- assuming you get it when you want it and get enough of it- is cheap for lunar operations in first few years. Just as lunar water at $500 per kg is cheap in first few years. But being “lock in” at such prices for more decade would or could be expensive-or not much of a bargain.

    With Moon one start with smaller market and higher prices- with expectation of lower prices and larger market in the future.

    In terms of NASA exploration, The area needed to explore is small. And the objective can be limited, and time needed can be short [less the 10 years]. Which adds up advantage to politically fund the program. Mars on other hand has vast regions to explore, and time needed could be more than 2 decades and require sustained political support.
    And such political support will be available if companies are in the process of mining the Moon. And lunar water mining wants Mars exploration because that long term factor related to the lunar market.

    1. That price for power is much too low for right now. A 100 kW power tower that provides 67 kW average at the poles only generates about $5.6m dollars in revenue in ten years. price needs to be higher for a pure power play unless nuclear, then you have the startup capital costs….

      An interesting play is for the U.S. government to pay for the emplacement of 500kW at the lunar pole outpost and then let the operator charge those kinds of prices…

      That is interesting though to put a price, which then allows you to bound the cost of metals on the Moon.

      1. “That price for power is much too low for right now.”
        Yeah. But lunar water at $500 per kg is also cheap.
        But it seems one could lower cost at Moon as compared to Mars
        in terms of electrical power, though if enough water needed on
        Mars it has to be cheaper than $500 per kg- and it could be.

        ” A 100 kW power tower that provides 67 kW average at the poles only generates about $5.6m dollars in revenue in ten years. ”

        In ten year you have to have more 100 kw. 100 Kw might enough for first 6 months and year end have 200 Kw or more. And 10 years it’s 1 Mw or more.
        A tower should about to get 80% sunlight and you seem to think it’s 67%.
        But if pick 67%, year is 24 times 365: 8760 times .67 = 5869,2 kw hours
        Times $75 is 444 K. And 80% is 525.6 K per year. Hmm seems like using 85% or more-
        which is possible. Let’s say it’s 500 K per 100 Kw per year.
        In first couple years you going to run in the red- and could true even if charging $750
        per Kw hour. Your focus is to lower your cost and sell as much electrical power and highest
        prices- and provide electrical power whenever and whomever needs it.
        So you have electrical needs related to mining water and making rocket fuel.
        Of that it seems biggest use is splitting water, next is cryo fuel- mainly LH2 and then the mining vehicles.
        You need person who provide manhours on the Moon- to fill gap of whatever can’t be
        done by robots. You need poles, and framework for solar cells, wiring, and whatever.
        And I would say you need someone to make them on the Moon. And that party going to need
        electrical power. So short term one imports all of it from Earth, long term, have all of it made
        on the Moon- but making something like solar cells on the Moon could be pretty far in the future. So for first 10 years, you could importing earth solar cells and have robot which make solar panel using earth imported solar cells. Or you start with lightweight low efficiency and possible upgrade it later.
        But anyhow, probably need some people on Moon- so hotel is another customer of electrical
        power. Someone makes iron, aluminum, calcium, and/or glass, is another electrical customer. Of course things involving 3 D printing stuff, and etc.
        Anyways back to point, you might start with 100 Kw, but lunar water mining and rocket fuel
        making should be something like doubling production per year, and electrical power might be tripling per year- because you not just providing electrical power to that activity- it’s more like an anchor tenant.
        Another aspect about it, is whoever the electrical provider, a large part of the value is the business- your potential for growth [and you know what you are doing]. And when get to point of making solar cells on the Moon- you could be consuming the most amount of electrical power, because you making lots of them.

        1. Upon review, I might be violating our statement of “price needs to be higher for a pure power play unless nuclear, then you have the startup capital costs….”

          Now I would say, what I deem a “pure power play” would directly going to idea of Earth SPS. Launch solar arrays to GEO from Earth, sell electrical power to earth surface.
          Except I am saying launch solar array from Moon to GEO to sell electrical power to Earth surface is primary long term goal of “space policy”- why do it. Or the inspiration- get to point of having unlimited energy available at Earth surface from Space.

          My focus of Moon is merely what seem most likely, and is dependent upon electrical market started on Lunar surface. And electrical market is needed on the Moon in order to
          make rocket fuel on the Moon. And if can’t viably make lunar rocket fuel- the Moon is not destination to be concerned about in near term.
          With launching solar arrays to GEO from earth, one needs the electrical market at GEO to be less than say 1 cent per Kw hour. And from that price add the cost of shipping it to earth surface and distributing the power to user.
          If you had electrical power at GEO at 1 cent or 1 dollar per kw, this result in rapid solar solar “development”- and could bring the rock and water from space to GEO. Or if had all the electrical power available at GEO you could ship that power elsewhere in space.
          But saying it goes both ways, space development [activity on Moon and Mars, etc] would invariably leads to electrical market in GEO. Or could not have mars settlements last for decade without getting to point of SPS in Earth orbit.

          So simply saying with moon one could start with market price of electrical power at 75 per kw hour, and can’t start with such a high price [$75 per kw hour] with Earth SPS or with Mars settlements.
          With Moon one has highest potential price for electrical power and water. Or one needs
          the least amount of electrical energy and water to be economically viable.
          Or expensive power and water at lunar poles is a good deal [cheap] and if not monopoly
          or there is a free market the price will lower over time.
          The main driving factor other than free market, is exporting stuff from the Moon. And one first things exported from the Moon is Lunar LOX to lunar orbit. And exporting to lunar orbit to lower cost of going to the Moon.
          Or significant aspect related to lunar use is market of rocket fuel at Low lunar orbit.
          And significant aspect of Mars exploration and/or Mars settlements if market for rocket
          fuel and Earth/Moon L-1 [or some other high earth orbit].

          Or one start a low lunar orbit rocket fuel market before mining any lunar water- the rocket fuel is shipped from Earth . Or starting lunar water mining and starting rocket market in Low lunar orbit can occur at same time. And at time when making enough lunar LOX and it’s cheap enough you start exporting it to Low lunar orbit. And later lunar LH2
          could be cheap enough to also export it.
          It is possible that one could export something other than LOX as first export. Obviously sending people back to Earth from Moon can seen as exporting. But could market for lunar samples or other pricy items- PGM stuff, pretty rocks, maybe even He 3 or whatever. But exporting LOX is important due to increasing the market size of lunar rocket fuel. Or if want to mine and use more than 1000 tons per year of lunar rocket fuel, you have to do it. But getting to such production level may take a few years [say 3 to 7 years]. And once doing LOX export to Lunar orbit, your next target is lunar LOX and Lunar water to L-1 [assuming people are traveling to Mars] so say 7 to 10 years after starting lunar water mining. And little difference price wise[ in terms competitive with earth] with shipping to Mars orbit in addition to L-1.

          But for this to be considered possible, one first needs lunar polar exploration for water.

        2. Correction:
          100 KW over year time:
          24 x 365 is 8760:
          100 Kw x 8760 is 876,000 KW

          If 100 Kw array has 80% sunlight
          876,000 times .8 is 700,800 KW
          And 700,800 Kw hour at $75 kw/h is 52.56 million dollars.

          And 100 Kw giving 700,800 Kw hour per year would make about 80 to 90 tons
          of rocket fuel per year.
          If split 90 tons of water you get 10 tons of H2 and 80 tons of O2

          Plus if use wiki numbers:
          “Practical electrolysis (using a rotating electrolyser at 15 bar pressure)
          may consume 50 kilowatt-hours per kilogram (180 MJ/kg).”
          10,000 kg H2 would require 500,000 kw hours

          1. G, you also have to operate in the dark, and then recharge to get the energy for the next night. Forget poles and all the other unknown crap. This is what we know from Mazarico. Thus the 67% number at the lunar north pole with 87% sunlight and taking into account internal losses…

            So 67 x 24 x 365 = 586,920 kw/hr *75 = $44,019,000 per year. We both did this without coffee..

            If it is there for 10 years with a 3% degradation per year for the arrays due to radiation then you get over a ten year period..

            $385,277,578 dollars…(446,194 kw/hr/yr after ten years)

            Over 15 years with the same degradation rate…

            $533,544,942. (383,163 kw/hr/yr at 15 years)

            If I can build and fly one of these for about $100m dollars (probably closer to $200m) then that $75 per kw/hr is at least in the ballpark.

            15 bar pressure is too low, then you need to further pressurize and cool to cryo temps which will cost more energy. Then you have to pump it, there are losses…….

            A practical lunar outpost is going to need about 500-700 kW to be sufficient for industrial level production of water and metals and overhead.

            1. “This is what we know from Mazarico. Thus the 67% number at the lunar north pole with 87% sunlight and taking into account internal losses…”

              I don’t know Mazarico, but getting idea about you meant by the 67% number.
              I would say$ 75 per kw hour doesn’t include all power you want whenever
              you want it. Or would say for that service you pay more- say $100 per Kw hour- and that can cheaper or bargain- if need such an electric power service

              Rather than store electrical power, it seems you could do couple of thing.
              One is move the solar array to different location. Or Two, land another array at
              a different location.
              With One you are saving cost of landing another array on the Moon. Two adds more solar energy generating capacity, but first array sits idle when it’s not in sunlight, but sunlight will eventually return and could get two arrays providing twice as much power when both array are in sunlight.

              As said 100 Kw isn’t enough, but it could be enough for say first 6 months, and if time period of first array is just 6 month rather the one year, one could higher percentage sunlight in those 6 month, with next 6 months having poor percentage
              of sunlight.
              Option Three, is land first array in location with near constant sunlight for 6 months, and within 6 month time, land 2 100 KW arrays in spot that gives high percentage of sunlight for next 6 month. Then move first array when season gets bad to new location and/or so it can give back up power when the two new array get to their “bad season” or perhaps where you had put the first array, does this, so don’t have to move it.

              But question is does your customer want to pay more for this more constant power.
              And if putting more arrays per year on the moon and in different locations,
              one would “naturally”get to point of being able to provide electrical power 100%
              of the time. Or putting solar arrays in different locations, costs more, but the electrical generated would or should be worth more.

              Or a part of cheaper electrical power could be greater “choice” of amount power
              one wants/needs- and at any time, rather than just a lower of price of $75 or $100 per Kw hour. Though over time and larger market one would get both- price per Kw hour and “quality” of electrical power.

              1. Quit overly complicating things.

                Based on what I have seen of the areas of permanent light, your idea is impractical.

                It is good though to quantify the cost of power on the lunar surface….

          2. Your numbers are interesting for the following reason. If we just do a little swag and say that 100,000 kg of fuel takes 700,000 kw/hr of energy, then we get an energy price per kg of $525 on the surface. Triple that number to cover infrastructure and a price of ~$1500/kg is a dang good price.

            This is not that far off from Gordon Woodcock’s 1984 numbers from the SSI Space Manufacturing Conference.


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