Here’s a fascinating study that explores the logistics and economics of water mining on the Moon. Once again: these things are going to happen sooner than we expect.
Final Report: Mining Water on the Moon Over the past few months, I was part of a study funded by the United Launch Alliance and supported by a large group of technologists to determine if we can mine water on the Moon and turn it into rocket fuel, and to do it economically. The final…
The actual study report is here (pdf):
From the Executive Summary:
“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 … From a technological perspective, a lunar propellant production plant is highly feasible.
The initial investment for this operation has been estimated at $4 billion, about the cost of a luxury hotel in Las Vegas. With this investment however, a scalable market can be accessed. 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.”