Video: Stern, Griffin Talk Commercial Lunar Exploration

Video from yesterday’s Golden Spike press conference.

  • Elon Musk has already said that 2 flights of his Falcon Heavy can do a manned lunar landing mission, and that he can build a lunar lander for cheap around his Super Draco engines. Does anyone think that SpaceX can’t build a lunar lander from scratch for under $300-Million similar to the non-recurring costs to develop the Dragon under NASA COTS?

    This would come to $400-Million per mission to send 4 people to the Moon and 2 people to the surface.

    Why does Golden Spike need to spend $8 Billion, when most of the hardware already exists for ~ $400-Million at SpaceX?

    Why are the recurring costs $1.5-Billion mer mission?

  • John Griffith

    $1.5 billion could be an upper limit, in case companies back out or costs increase significantly during development.

  • I’ve been thinking about Dracos and Superdracos for a while now as well but I’m not sure what the maximum burn time and burn rate of the Super Dracos are and they’re a bit of overkill for the lunar segment. Plus it is a lot of fuel. My assumption is the full suite of Dracos is more or less mandatory from here on out for almost any long duration maneuvering vehicle, but I’d also like to see a full suite of alternative micro thrusters as well. But this does beg the question, why are they in such a hurry? If they could develop a working Draco/Super Draco lander that in itself would be a big breakthrough, they should just try for that alone and a lot of that can be done here – I think NASA is or was working on a monopropellent system that showed quite a bit of promise.

    On the other end of the scale is the hydrogen, fuel settling, restarts and etc for direct higher mass lunar access and possibly full reusability. XCOR, Blue Origin and Orbitec are all thinking in this direction as well and methane sounds like a good deal too. Moving TLI to the booster segment opens up a lot of interesting possibilities if you are serious about recovering or reusing the hardware, or ganging up multiple missions on the same booster and core/upper stage and the hassle of hydrogen (the pain in the ass factor heh) is a one off thing that is a lot cheaper to perform on Earth, and would be a lot easier to perform with a deep cryogenic cold sink right down the hill on the moon.

    All Golden Spike is pointing out is that the costs have dropped dramatically and there are functional off the shelf systems coming online. That doesn’t mean that we’re anywhere near ready to return to the moon. A lot of this is the first to submit syndrome.