NEEP533 Course Notes (Spring 1999)
Resources from Space

Lecture #42 Show me your ROI!

Title: Interlune Intermars Initiative

Delaware Corporation incorporated in 1997
Privately Financed
Vision Statement:
Mission Statements:
1. Develop commercial enterprises related to resources from space that provide a competive return to investors.
2. Protect the Earth's environment and increase the well-being of its inhabitants by using energy from space, particularly lunar 3He, as a major alternative to fossil and fission fuels.
3. Develop resources from space that will support future near-Earth and deep space activities and human settlement.
4. Establish the human species in diverse, self-sufficient enclaves on the Moon and Mars.
5. Develop reliable and robust capabilities to launch payloads from Earth to deep space at a cost of $1000/kg or less (1997 dollars).
6. Endow a world-class Space Biomedical Sciences Institute within the mainstream of biomedical research.
7. Conduct intramural and extramural research related to resources from space that will provide cost effective support for lunar and martian settlements.
8.Develop the technical and organizational capability to deflect asteroids and comets that pose significant threats to human settlements in the solar system.
9. Cooperate with nations and world organizations to guarantee that both the space treaty enviroment and national regulatory and economic structures encourage all peaceful space enterprises.
10. Endow a "Solar System Fleet Academy" for training of cadres of space specialists, generalists, and skilled workers.
11.Endow an International Energy and Environment Foundation with the funds necessary to establish a worldwide technical and economic base for the use of energy from space.
Logic for considering a business initiative related to lunar resources

Lunar resources have a future role in the economy of the Earth-Moon-Mars sector of the Solar System.

  • Resources for use on Earth
  • Resources for use in Earth orbit
  • Resources for use in space transportation
  • Resources for use by lunar and Martian settlers
  • Resources for protection from asteroidal and cometary collisions

The Moon is near-by and reasonably accessible

The Apollo Program and subsequent space activities have created a base of knowledge for planning

  • A lunar resource base of potential economic value has been identified.
  • This resource base has been partially characterizedy by the Apollo investigations, the lunar sample analysis program, on-going remote sensing and subsequent laboratory analysis.
  • Significant quantities and varieties of lunar samples exist for further investigations related to resource and engineering questions.
  • Technical fesibility of going to and living on the Moon has been demonstrated by Apollo, Skylab, Mir,and soon, the International Space Station.
  • The necessary technological concepts for transportation to the Moon have been well developed and tested.
Logic for considering a business initiative related to 3He fusion

An alternative to fossil fuels for the generation of electrical power will be required early in the 21st Century (Lectures #2, 3, 4, 5, and 38).

  • Global population will double to over 10 billion by 2050
  • 15 BOE/capita required to stay even with current global comsumption
  • 60 BOE/capita required globally to reach current US consumption and quality of life
  • ?? BOE/capita require to mitigate the long term effects of global climate change whether warming or cooling (climate change is the geological rule, not an environmental exception)
  • Consequences of business-as-usual will be "huge"
    • Cartel control, defense requirements, environmental costs
  • Fossil hydrocarbons (fuels) will become incresingly valuable as natural chemicals

3He fusion is a scientifically sound concept and steadily advancing technologically (Lectures #24 and 25)

3He fusion systems are commercially feasible provided fuel prices are competitive and R&D financing available (Lectures 26 and 41)

  • At $21/barrel for oil, energy equivalent value is about $3 billion/tonne
  • As the US uses the energy equivalent of 30 tonnes of 3He/year to produce electricity, the no growth market for the US alone is about $90 billion/year.
    • For perspective, the Apollo Program cost about $64 billion in today's dollars.
  • The US growth market is 2050, and after nearly total power infrastructure replacement, would be about $200 billion.
  • These economic figures suggest that a lunar minig operation may be commercially viable if start-up costs can be financed, that is, held to a few billion dollars/year for about 10 years with returns on investment begining within 3-5 years of initial investment.

3He fusion power is politically and environmentally sound (Lectures #2 and 26)

  • No radioactive fuel
  • Little or no nuclear waste
  • Reduction of the environmental impace of power generation
  • High conversion efficiences
  • No external effluents
  • Potential for a new domestic industrial base
  • Important spin-off technologies
  • Potential for less expensive electrical power
  • Concurrent development of other space resources
  • Concurrent development of the capability to deflect Earth-crossing
  • Very limited and transitory environmental impact on the Moon's surface and atmosphere

Lunar 3He resources can be extracted at commercially viable costs (Lectures #21 and 27)

Permanently occupied settlements on the moon are feasible (Lectures 13, 20, and 28)

Potential Business Implementation Schedule for the INTERLUNE INTERMARS INTITIATIVE, INC.

This schedule is only one of many such possible schedules that might be devised for 3He or other space resource development.

To the extent currently possible, this schedule allows for many of the regulatory, technical, and financial uncertainties that always accompany projects of this magnetude.




Abelson, P.H., 1996, Nuclear Power in East Asia, Science, v 272, April 26, 1996, p465.

Schmitt, H.H., 1997, Interlune-Intermars Business Initiative: Returining to Deep Space. Journal of Aerospace Engineering, April 1997, 60-67.

NEEP533 Syllabus

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