About a week ago, I was talking to a friend from LiftPort’s Technical Advisory Council about the commercialization of the Moon. We chatted about how the Moon was about to become ‘busy’ with a lot of activity. But it was during that conversation that I realized that I really didn’t have a number; it wasn’t quantified… How busy? What does ‘busy’ mean? Who is going…?
You’d think that with all the time and attention I give this sector of commercial Lunar space development, I’d know that answer off the top of my head. I don’t. I can name several (but not all) of the CLPS mission providers, https://www.nasa.gov/content/commercial-lunar-payload-services
and I can name each of the big Artemis contractors. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-names-companies-to-develop-human-landers-for-artemis-moon-missions
I realized – as close as I am to this field – that I still didn’t have a complete picture of what’s happening, by whom, or when.
So, I went looking for it.
Fortunately, the European Space Agency has done some of this work. It’s a little dated; about a year old. But it’s the most accurate data set that I could find. There may be some updates, but I’m taking the chart at face value. The link to the article and the infographic is here: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications/Who_s_ready_to_serve_the_lunar_missions The graphic expands to a more readable version.
I’ve got (a LiftPort-modified version of) this image as the background to my laptop.
I want to point out some important distinctions between the original ESA image, and the updated and edited version that LiftPort created. All we did, was to expand the information provided by ESA on “CPLS Mission 2021” above and added the completed information that was left off the image. It suddenly shows a Moon dominated by American activity… in a way that – even as close as I am to this stuff – I was not aware of.
There are 21 US-led missions. The US has sixteen(!) commercial-focused efforts and five NASA-led programs. Of the whole rest of the world, there are “only” five other commercial missions. (That there are ANY commercial missions still seems a bit of a dream come true!) Institutionally, there are 18 missions disbursed between 11 national space agencies. I find that to be a little staggering!
And the last aspect that really excites me about the future of Lunar development is those sub-contractor organizations that will ‘hitch a ride’ with all those Lunar missions. I know that Masten, Intuitive Machines, and Astrobotic are actively pursuing commercial contracts for each of their mission. Of these 21 American missions, each has some sort of capacity for additional commercial, academic, Defense, or civilian cargo. If you just assume 5 organizations – I think it’s MUCH higher than that – per trip, that means over 100 organizations will have assets on the Moon!
So, what’s going there? I don’t have data. But I can make a good guess of science packages, sensors for testing Lunar regolith, communications, cameras, and other infrastructure. That initial infrastructure will be the ‘Lego’ bricks to build the future with!
For background context, here’s 2 more of our LiftPort videos about “The Future” of commercial space development between 2020-2035: https://youtu.be/0W42h_JUtlU and https://youtu.be/u9qiQfwX4dU
#SpaceElevator #ExploreFarther #BusyMoon
President, LiftPort Group
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