Economic Implications of the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure
Expanding the Cislunar Econosphere[i]
The LSEI has immediate economic implications of harnessing assets on the Moon, therefore expanding opportunities on Earth, in orbit, and in cislunar space. Additionally, LSEI will accomplish even more than that. As we have explored space, we have expanded the reaches of humanity to LEO, GEO, briefly the Moon, robotically to Mars, and fly-bys of the rest of the solar system, however, our sphere of economic influence, or Econosphere, has only remained within GEO. The Moon and Mars have always been items of scientific inquiry or political tools; we have a scientific presence farther out into the solar system, but not an economic presence. The goal of LSEI is to expand the econosphere of the Earth such that it includes the Moon and the distance between the Moon and Earth, cislunar space. If done correctly, the LSEI will be a means to global economic growth and be at the center of, and controller of, an entirely new, expanded, economic zone.
Utilizing Capitalist AmericaWe want the United States of American to be at the heart of the LSEI project and the economic development of cislunar space. This makes both LSEI, and the future development of cislunar space, an example of how the American vision of capitalism can pioneer new frontiers of humanity.
There are other schools of thought on how LSEI could be established:
Constructing LSEI would be a significant, and valuable, asset for space exploration and research. Additionally, we believe that the ingenuity and progress enabled by the American system of capitalism will accomplish so much more:
It is also important to understand that money spent on space technology is spent here on Earth, not “in space”; it therefore stimulates the American and global economies. The $196B spent during NASA’s 39 year Space Shuttle program[iv] was distributed into various local communities – Florida, California, Colorado, Utah, Alabama, and others – and created thousands of jobs[v]. We hope to do the same with LSEI.
The construction and deployment phases of the LSEI will create technical and engineering jobs, as well as stimulate resource markets by purchasing necessary materials. The operations of the LSEI, once established, will require jobs such as managers, lawyers, cargo handlers, miners, and more researchers. Finally, if the cislunar econosphere becomes a hub for capitalist innovation, cislunar space could become a new source of independent businesses and therefore countless jobs would be created.
This technology will have an economic multiplier effect. This means that the economic stimulation caused by the costs of our system will lead to economic activity worth far more than the $800M that will be spent on the LSEI. For example, NASA has calculated that every dollar they spend at Ames Research Center, translates to $2.03 of economic activity in California[vi].
Being part of the same field of space technology, we would expect our local economic multiplier to be similar in nature. (Note, this multiplier did not account for spin-off development of commercial products as a result of created intellectual property. If that were factored in, we suspect this multiplier would be much, much higher.)
Economic Exclusion Zone
Only one Earth-Moon Lagrange1 (EML1) Space Elevator can be built because only one location exists on the Moon where it can be constructed: Sinus Medii. We want the U.S. to be behind this system in some capacity. Therefore, if LiftPort can secure Sinus Medii, we can hold the position until the LSEI is ready for deployment. Fortunately, there are policies in place preventing any government or organization from owning land on the surface of the Moon[vii] and therefore, the United States cannot simply claim Sinus Medii[viii]. Interestingly, these policies are based loosely on maritime law and the laws of the sea, stating that you cannot own the Moon just as you cannot own the oceans[ix]. However, there are ways in which maritime law is exercised, and portions of the sea are effectively “used” if not “owned” by a government or organization. For example, the border control of an ocean bordering nation allows for their territory to extend out into the sea[x]. Additionally, company ships – flying the flag of various nations – are allowed to establish economic exclusion zones in the ocean. This is not a formal statement of ownership, they do not own the sea, but instead they have the rights to the economic assets and resources, of the ocean, present within that region. This is what we want to achieve on the Moon.
We want to establish an economic exclusion zone around Sinus Medii, securing our anchor site and building a Lunar Elevator structure.
We think that we can accomplish this on our own; we have a capitalization model and business plan that we believe in. However, the system that we want to establish will open up the surface of the Moon, the EML1 Lagrange Station and cislunar space as developable ‘real estate’. Therefore, we are excited about the idea of an anchor customer: some organization who can substantially help fund our project, with the promise of developmental real estate upon completion. This could be civilian, military, commercial, or governmental; or any combination of these organizations. Eventually, cislunar space, the Lagrange Station and the surface of the Moon will be home to various organizations from a variety of nations. Space will be built out and our econosphere will inevitably expand. The real estate available is most valuable for those who are first to arrive. Our Lunar Elevator system provides the cheapest access to the Moon and will physically exist at the Lagrange point and through most of cislunar space. This makes our system the most able to access and utilize the available real estate in space, which should incentivize industries to want to invest and become a part of our econosphere expanding movement, solidifying themselves in the future of our world economy.
[i] Murphy, K. (2012, February). The cislunar econosphere. Retrieved from http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2027/1
[ii] Dillow, C. (2016, February). Is China's race to space a military ploy? Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/18/chinas-space-missions-in-2016-tied-to-military-ambitions.html
[iii] Woerner, J. (2016). Moon Village, A vision for global cooperation and Space 4.0. http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Ministerial_Council_2016/Moon_Village
[iv] Pielke, R., & Byerly, R. (2011). Shuttle programme lifetime cost. Nature, 472(7341), 38-38. doi:10.1038/472038d
[v] National Geographic Associated Press. (2008, April). Huge Job Losses After Shuttle Program Ends, NASA Hints. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080402-AP-nasa.html
[vi] NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley. (2015, December). Economic Benefits Study. Retrieved from https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/160105_ames_ebs_report_2015_update.pdf
[vii] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. (1979). 1979 Agreement Governing The Activities Of States On The Moon And Other Celestial Bodies. Retrieved from https://cil.nus.edu.sg/rp/il/pdf/1979%20Agreement%20Governing%20the%20Activities%20of%20States%20on%20the%20Moon%20and%20Other%20Celestial%20Bodies-pdf.pdf
[viii] United Nations. (2002). United Nations Treaties and Principles on Outer Space.
[ix] United Nations. (1982, December). United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part2.htm