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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.

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RGClark

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SpaceX has said two Falcon Heavy launches would be required to carry a manned Dragon to a lunar landing. However, the 53 metric ton payload capacity of a single Falcon Heavy would be sufficient to carry the 30 mT (Earth departure stage + lunar lander system) described below. This would require 20 mT and 10 mT gross mass Centaur-style upper stages. This page gives the cost of a ca. 20 mT Centaur upper stage as $30 million:

Centaur IIA.
http://www.astronautix.com/craft/cenuriia.htm

A 10 mT Centaur-style stage would be somewhat less than this, so the total for both less than $60 million.

The 53 mT to LEO capacity of the Falcon Heavy would also allow large lunar cargo transport using two of the 20 mT gross mass Centaurs that already exist either using the Dragon to carry the cargo or by carrying somewhat more cargo just within a lightweight container.

An important cargo delivery to the Moon would be in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) equipment, specifically for producing propellant from the water discovered to lie within the shadowed craters near the lunar poles. Elon Musk has said a key goal of his is to mount a manned Mars mission within 1 to 2 decades. Such a mission could be mounted more cheaply if the large amount of propellant required did not have to be lofted from the Earth's deep gravity well but could be taken from the Moon.

Another important cargo delivery would be to carry a rover that could do a sample return mission from the near polar locations. Lunar orbiter observations suggest there may be valuable minerals concentrated in such locations:

SCIENCE -- October 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM EDT
Moon Blast Reveals Lunar Surface Rich With Compounds.
BY: JENNY MARDER
"There is water on the moon ... along with a long list of other compounds,
including, mercury, gold and silver. That's according to a more detailed
analysis of the chilled lunar soil near the moon's South Pole, released as six papers by a large team of scientists in the journal, Science Thursday."
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/10/its-confirmed-there-is-water.html

If these tentative detections could be confirmed then that could possibly form a commercial market for flights to the Moon.

In this vein note there is even stronger evidence for large amounts of valuable minerals on asteroids. Observations suggest that even a small size asteroid could contain trillions of dollars (that's trillions with a 't') worth of valuable minerals:

Riches in the Sky: The Promise of Asteroid Mining.
Mark Whittington, Nov 15, 2005
http://voices.yahoo.com/riches-sky-promise-asteroid-mining-8776.html

It is quite important to note then that since the delta-V requirements to some near Earth asteroids is less than that to the Moon, that the sample return version of the lunar lander could also be used to return samples from the near Earth asteroids. If these asteroidal detections could be definitively confirmed by a sample return mission then that would provide further justification for private investment in lunar propellant production installations.

SpaceX expects to launch the first Falcon Heavy in 2013. Because the required Centaur stages already exist it is possible that a lunar lander could be formed from such mated together stages within this time frame at least for a unmanned cargo version.

It is important though that such a lander be privately financed. Because the required stages already exist I estimate a lander could be formed from them for less than a $100 million development cost. This is based on the fact that SpaceX was able to develop the Falcon 9 launcher for about $300 million development cost. And this required development of both the engines and the stages for a 300 mT gross mass and 30 mT dry mass launcher. But for this lunar lander, the engines and stages already exist for a total 40 mT gross mass and 4 mT dry mass system.

If the system were to be government financed then based on the fact that SpaceX was able to develop the Falcon 9 for 1/10th the development cost of usual NASA financed systems, the cost of the lander would suddenly balloon to a billion dollar development.

Note that while the evidence for valuable minerals in the lunar shadowed craters is not yet particularly strong, the evidence for such minerals in the asteroids is. So there is a strong financial incentive for forming such a lunar lander as it could also be used for the asteroidal lander.
But asteroidal mineral retrieval flights could be launched much more cheaply if the propellant could be obtained from the Moon. Then there is a strong financial incentive to produce ISRU installations on the Moon which would require lunar return missions from the shadowed crater regions to assess the best means of harvesting this lunar water for propellant. If such return missions also confirm the presence of valuable minerals in the shadowed craters then that would be like icing on the cake for justification of private investment in such missions.



Bob Clark


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The Orion spacecraft and Altair lunar lander intended for a manned Moon mission are large craft that would require a heavy lift launcher for the trip. However the Dragon capsule is a smaller capsule that would allow lunar missions with currently existing launchers.
The idea for this use would be for it to act as a reusable shuttle only between LEO and the lunar surface. This page gives the dry mass of the Dragon capsule of 3,180 kg:

SpaceX reveals first Dragon engineering unit.
DATE:16/03/07
By Rob Coppinger
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/03/16/212634/picture-spacex-reveals-first-dragon-engineering-unit.html

The wet mass with propellant would be higher than this but for use only as a shuttle between LEO and the Moon, the engines and propellant would be taken up by the attached propulsion system. With crew and supplies call the capsule mass 4,000 kg.
On this listing of space vehicles you can find that the later versions of the Centaur upper stage have a mass ratio of about 10 to 1:

http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/mwade/alpha/alpndexc.htm

The Isp's given for the RL-10A engines used on these stages are around 450 s, but an updated version with a longer, extensible nozzle has an Isp of 465.5 s:

RL10B-2.
http://www.pw.utc.com/products/pwr/assets/pwr_rl10b-2.pdf

This page gives the delta-V's needed for trips within the Earth-Moon system:

Delta-V budget.
Earth–Moon space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-v_budget#Earth.E2.80.93Moon_space

The architecture will be to use a larger Centaur upper stage to serve as the propulsion system to take the vehicle from LEO to low lunar orbit. This larger stage will not descend to the surface, but will remain in orbit. A smaller Centaur stage will serve as the descent stage and will also serve as the liftoff stage that will take the spacecraft not just back to lunar orbit, but all the way to back to LEO. The larger Centaur stage will return to LEO under its own propulsion, to make the system fully reusable. Both stages will use aerobraking to reduce the delta-V required to return to LEO.
For the larger Centaur, take the gross mass of the stage alone as 30,000 kg, and its dry mass as 1/10th of that at 3,000 kg. For the smaller Centaur stage take the gross mass as 10,000 kg and the dry mass as 1,000 kg. The "Delta-V budget" page gives the delta-V from LEO to low lunar orbit as 4,040 m/s. In calculating the delta-V provided by the larger Centaur stage we'll retain 1,000 kg propellant at the end of the burn for the return trip of this stage to LEO: 465.5*9.8ln((30,000 + 10,000 + 4,000)/(3,000 +10,000 + 4,000 + 1,000)) = 4,077 m/s, sufficient to reach low lunar orbit. For this stage alone to return to LEO, 1,310 m/s delta-V is required. The 1,000 kg retained propellant provides 465.5*9.8ln((3,000 + 1,000)/3,000) = 1,312 m/s, sufficient for the return.
The delta-V to go from low lunar orbit to the Moon's surface is 1,870 m/s. And to go from the Moon's surface back to LEO is 2,740 m/s, for a total of 4,610 m/s. The delta-V provided by this smaller Centaur stage is 465.5*9.8ln((10,000 + 4,000)/(1,000 + 4,000)) = 4,697 m/s, sufficient for lunar landing and the return to LEO.
The RL-10 engine was proven to be reusable for multiple uses with quick turnaround time on the DC-X. The total propellant load of 40,000 kg could be lofted by two 20,000+ kg payload capacity launchers, such as the Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5, and Proton.
The price for these launchers is in the range of $100-140 million according to the specifications on this page:

Expendable Launch Vehicles.
http://www.spaceandtech.com/spacedata/elvs/elvs.shtml

So two would be in the range of $200-$280 million. The Dragon spacecraft and Centaur stages being reusable for 10+ uses would mean their cost per flight should be significantly less than this. This would bring the cost into the range affordable to be purchased by most national governments.
Still, it would be nice to reduce that $200 million cost just to bring the propellant to orbit. One possibility might be the heavy lift launchers being planned by NASA. One of the main problems in deciding on a design for the launchers is that there would be so few launches the per launch cost would be too high. However, launching of the propellant to orbit for lunar missions would provide a market that could allow multiple launches per year thus reducing the per launch cost of the heavy lift launchers. For instance, the Direct HLV team claims their launcher would cost $240 million per launch if they could make 12 launches per year:

JULY 23, 2009
Interview with Ross Tierney of Direct Launch by Sander Olson.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/07/interview-with-ross-tierney-of-direct.html

This launcher would have a 70,000 kg payload capacity. However, if you removed the payload fairing and interstage and just kept the propellant to be launched to orbit in the ET itself and considering the fact that the shuttle system was able to launch 100,000+ kg to orbit with the shuttle and payload, it's possible the propellant that could be launched to orbit could be in the range of 100,000 kg. Then the cost per kg to orbit would be $2,400 per kg, or about a $100 million cost for the propellant to orbit.
Reduction of the per launch cost for the heavy lift launchers would then allow affordable launches of the larger spacecraft and landers for lunar missions.


Bob Clark
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Michel Van

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very good analysis, Bob Clark

but there those little details:
SpaceX is to tenacious, in self development of own Hardware and not buy a Centaur upperstage
I will be Not surprised, if the SpaceX Raptor Lox/Lh2 engine , gonna be a modified Merlin vacuum !
It work, wat Aerojet proof with LR-87 engine that tested with diverse fuels also with Lox/Lh2
http://www.astronautix.com/engines/lr87lh2.htm
but those cheaper R&D engine have lower Isp as a RL-10
 
R

RGClark

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Edit:

SpaceX has said two Falcon Heavy launches would be required to carry a manned Dragon to a lunar landing. However, the 53 metric ton payload capacity of a single Falcon Heavy would be sufficient to carry the 30 mT (Earth departure stage + lunar lander system) described below. This would require 20 mT and 10 mT gross mass Centaur-style upper stages.

That should say 40 mT gross mass for the (Earth departure stage + lunar lander) system that was originally described with 30 mT and 10 mT Centaur-style stages.


Bob Clark
 
R

RGClark

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Michel Van said:
very good analysis, Bob Clark

but there those little details:
SpaceX is to tenacious, in self development of own Hardware and not buy a Centaur upperstage
I will be Not surprised, if the SpaceX Raptor Lox/Lh2 engine , gonna be a modified Merlin vacuum !
It work, wat Aerojet proof with LR-87 engine that tested with diverse fuels also with Lox/Lh2
http://www.astronautix.com/engines/lr87lh2.htm
but those cheaper R&D engine have lower Isp as a RL-10

I think you're right. Note that the Centaurs were built with government financing. Quite likely SpaceX could design a cheaper one as privately financed.
Nice article here:

SpaceX Might Be Able To Teach NASA A Lesson.
May 23, 2011
By Frank Morring, Jr.
Washington
“I think one would want to understand in some detail . . . why would it be between four and 10 times more expensive for NASA to do this, especially at a time when one of the issues facing NASA is how to develop the heavy-lift launch vehicle within the budget profile that the committee has given it,” Chyba says.
He cites an analysis contained in NASA’s report to Congress on the market for commercial crew and cargo services to LEO that found it would cost NASA between $1.7 billion and $4 billion to do the same Falcon-9 development that cost SpaceX $390 million. In its analysis, which contained no estimates for the future cost of commercial transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS) beyond those already under contract, NASA says it had “verified” those SpaceX cost figures.
For comparison, agency experts used the NASA-Air Force Cost Model—“a parametric cost-estimating tool with a historical database of over 130 NASA and Air Force spaceflight hardware projects”—to generate estimates of what it would cost the civil space agency to match the SpaceX accomplishment. Using the “traditional NASA approach,” the agency analysts found the cost would be $4 billion. That would drop to $1.7 billion with different assumptions representative of “a more commercial development approach,” NASA says.
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/awst/2011/05/23/AW_05_23_2011_p36-324881.xml


Bob Clark
 
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RGClark

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Just saw this discussed on Nasaspaceflight.com

Elon Musk on SpaceX’s Reusable Rocket Plans.
February 7, 2012 6:00 PM
The key, at least for the first stage, is the difference in speed. "It really comes down to what the staging Mach number would be," Musk says, referencing the speed the rocket would be traveling at separation. "For an expendable Falcon 9 rocket, that is around Mach 10. For a reusable Falcon 9, it is around Mach 6, depending on the mission." For the reusable version, the rocket must be traveling at a slower speed at separation because the burn must end early, preserving enough propellant to let the rocket fly back and land vertically. This also makes recovery easier because entry velocities are slower.
However, the slower speed also means that the upper stage of the Falcon rocket must supply more of the velocity needed to get to orbit, and that significantly reduces how much payload the rocket can lift into orbit. "The payload penalty for full and fast reusability versus an expendable version is roughly 40 percent," Musk says. "[But] propellant cost is less than 0.4 percent of the total flight cost. Even taking into account the payload reduction for reusability, the improvement is therefore theoretically over a hundred times."
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/rockets/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023

Then for the Falcon 9, the payload would be reduced from 10 mT to 6 mT. If the reduction in payload really is this high, then maybe it would be better to recover the first stage at sea. The loss in payload is coming from the reduction in the speed of staging as well as the need to retain a portion of the fuel for the return to base. Recovering at sea would not have these disadvantages because you could let the first stage make its usual trajectory at returning to the sea but use just small amount of propellant for the final slowdown before the sea impact.
In this article Musk does mention that returning back to the launch point allows the turnaround time at least for the first stage to be just hours. But will we really need that short a turnaround time at this stage of the game? A turnaround time of a few days would seem to be sufficient.
Perhaps the idea that retrieval at sea would be so expensive comes from the experience of the shuttle with the SRB's. But these were quite large and heavy at ca. 90 mT dry compared to that of the Falcon 9 first stage at less than 15 mT. Also, it is well known the labor costs for the shuttle were greatly inflated compared to a privately funded program.
The only additional requirement is that you would need a cover that could be extended to cover the engine section and would be watertight.


Bob Clark
 
R

RGClark

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...
On this listing of space vehicles you can find that the later versions of the Centaur upper stage have a mass ratio of about 10 to 1:

http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/mwade/alpha/alpndexc.htm

The Isp's given for the RL-10A engines used on these stages are around 450 s, but an updated version with a longer, extensible nozzle has an Isp of 465.5 s:

RL10B-2.
http://www.pw.utc.com/products/pwr/assets/pwr_rl10b-2.pdf

This page gives the delta-V's needed for trips within the Earth-Moon system:

Delta-V budget.
Earth–Moon space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-v_budget#Earth.E2.80.93Moon_space

...
The RL-10 engine was proven to be reusable for multiple uses with quick turnaround time on the DC-X. The total propellant load of 40,000 kg could be lofted by two 20,000+ kg payload capacity launchers, such as the Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5, and Proton.
The price for these launchers is in the range of $100-140 million according to the specifications on this page:

Expendable Launch Vehicles.
http://www.spaceandtech.com/spacedata/elvs/elvs.shtml

The original architecture was to use two of the 20 mT to LEO launchers currently available with two Centaur upper stages to get a 4 mT Dragon to the Moon and back.
What can we do with a single one of these launchers currently available? Using a single one of these launchers to carry a single Centaur upper stage we could carry about 1 mT to the Moon and back:
From the delta-V table, you need 4.04 km/s to go from LEO to low lunar orbit, 1.87 km/s to go from low lunar orbit to the lunar surface, and 2.74 km/s with aerobraking to go from the lunar surface back to LEO for a total of 8.65 km/s delta-V for a single stage making the round-trip.
Then with a 465.5 s Isp, 20 mT total mass including payload, 2 mT dry mass, and 1 mT payload we get: 465.5*9.8ln(20,000/(2000 + 1000)) = 8,650 m/s, sufficient for the round-trip.

This would suffice to carry a lunar rover to operate in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles or for an NEO asteroid:

Lunar Prospecting Robot To Be Field Tested On Hawaii's Mauna Kea
ScienceDaily (Oct. 14, 2008)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134111.htm

This university developed robot probably cost no more than a few million dollars. The single Centaur upper stage costs in the range of $30 million. And the 20 mT to LEO launchers cost in the range of $100-140 million, according to the Spaceandtech.com site estimates, for a total in the range of $200 million. This is a fraction of the amount spent by mining interests on exploration:

Explore Mining.
World non-ferrous expenditures for all exploration in 2007 are estimated to be about $10.4 Billion dollars.
http://www.holden.house.gov/comm/explore-mining/exploration/

This same site also indicates that mining exploration is by nature high risk:

So just what is exploration?
It’s the collection of processes that gather information about the presence or absence of mineral deposits
The over-riding goal of exploration is to find deposits that can be worked as profitable mining operations.
It is a time-consuming, multi-stage investment in information different gathering processes.
It’s also an expensive, high-risk investment, unlike ordinary businesses investments.
Depending on the literature source, the success rate for finding profitable mining operations (when weighed against the total number of mineral properties examined by a company) have ranges from a high of 4 in 100 (that’s a 4% success rate!), to less than 1 in 100 and as low as 1 in 1000 (that’s a .1% success rate!).

For any investment venture a cost/risk/benefit analysis has to be made. Compared to the cost already spent by mining interests yearly, the cost is relatively low especially for a consortium of mining interests funding the mission together.
The risk is composed of the risk of the mission failing and of it not finding the high amounts of precious minerals. At least for the asteroid missions the risk of it not finding the high value minerals is low as there are several independent lines of evidence that precious metals are located uniformly on asteroids. So that leaves the risk of the mission failing. Considering the amount of U.S. experience with planetary missions, this risk is considerably better than the 1 in 1,000 chance of success some estimates put on Earth bound mining exploration.
However, quite important when measuring cost and risk, are the benefits to justify them. The possible benefits are more mineral wealth in a single asteroid than all that mined in all of human history.
Indeed the likelihood of the high amounts of precious minerals is so good, and the benefits of success are so extraordinarily high, that it would pay to do several missions if there are failures.
That is for the asteroid missions. However, if such asteroid mining missions are to be profitable then it would be much cheaper if the large amount of propellant needed to carry out the transport could be obtained from the Moon rather than by lofting it from Earth's deep gravity well. Then to insure that propellant could be obtained from the Moon's polar regions sample return missions to the lunar poles would have to be mounted as well. The nice thing about these missions is that the same rovers and spacecraft could be used for the asteroid sample return missions. Then these lunar sample return missions could be regarded as test missions to give further assurance of the technology for returning the samples from asteroids. And if the lunar polar samples show the high precious metal amounts tentatively detected by LCROSS then so much the better.
As I said to keep costs low these missions should be privately financed. NASA is planning to launch an asteroid sample return mission in 2016. This would not return the samples though until 2023 and is budgeted at $800 million without even launch costs:

NASA to Launch Asteroid-Sampling Spacecraft in 2016.
Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior WriterDate: 25 May 2011 Time: 07:10 PM ET
http://www.space.com/11788-nasa-asteroid-mission-osiris-rex-1999-rq36.html

When you add on launch costs and considering the usual NASA cost overruns this will probably wind up being a billion dollar mission. Also, since some proposed human missions to asteroids would have a duration of 5 to 6 months, these sample return missions could return their samples in months rather than the seven years planned for the NASA mission.


Bob Clark
 

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Indeed the likelihood of the high amounts of precious minerals is so good, and the benefits of success are so extraordinarily high, that it would pay to do several missions if there are failures.

Returning a sample is one thing. Setting up a large-scale mining and refining operation (requiring thousands of tons of equipment) and returning thousands of tons of material to Earth is quite another. We're a couple of orders of magnitude off from launch costs that would make this endeavor cost effective.
 

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I agree, there is nothing on moon that we could extract or excavate, that would pay off its expenses. Even the alleged helium 3 would not pay itself back, as there is no definite technology of how to extract it and how exactly to use it on the moon. Even if there were rivers of platinum, I doubt it would cover it, as the expenditures for labour hours, mechanical engineering etc, would far outweigh potential benefits.We live in an age of space program engineering collapse . In 60ies we could allegedly go to the moon 384K km away, all years afterwards, no higher than 560 km, today, we feel superachievers by flying in space at 90 km. Even X-15 more than 40 years ago flew higher.I t`s a degenerative era, although some space related sciences are advancing such as telescope industry. Why not simply send a small rover to exact landing site of Apollo 11, so I could shut up. Energiya was supposedly able to deliver 30T in lunar orbit, even in autonomous mode, they should have reivived that programm, and prooved me wrong. Nothing on moon would help creating cheaper energy on earth, as the price is not related to expenses, but to an imagined amount of your total income that could be deducted for utilities costs. You see, if there were free electricity, the food prices or renting would go up, etc. Unless there is a law that declares as to what percentage of your income can be deducted for various utilities, it`s a hopeless fight.
 
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RGClark

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RGClark said:
...
As I said to keep costs low these missions should be privately financed. NASA is planning to launch an asteroid sample return mission in 2016. This would not return the samples though until 2023 and is budgeted at $800 million without even launch costs:

NASA to Launch Asteroid-Sampling Spacecraft in 2016.
Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior WriterDate: 25 May 2011 Time: 07:10 PM ET
http://www.space.com/11788-nasa-asteroid-mission-osiris-rex-1999-rq36.html

When you add on launch costs and considering the usual NASA cost overruns this will probably wind up being a billion dollar mission. Also, since some proposed human missions to asteroids would have a duration of 5 to 6 months, these sample return missions could return their samples in months rather than the seven years planned for the NASA mission.

Note that all the components for such a mission already exist, the launcher, the spacecraft, and the rover. All that is required is to mate them together. On that basis such a mission probably could be launched within a year. Note also all of the U.S., Russia, and Europe have the required 20 mT launcher, and the upper or space stage capable of the space traverse. And China will also with the introduction of the Long March 5 in 2014. Then who will be first?

A common question asked about the space program is what is it good for? If the U.S. government fully financed the mining operation then based on an estimated $20 trillion value for the minerals on a single asteroid, this would have enough value to retire the entire U.S. debt(!) Preferably though the U.S. would only be a partial investor to retain the costs savings of a privately financed venture. Even then as a minority investor, the return in value to the U.S. government could be in the trillions.

However, it may indeed be possible that a fully NASA financed venture could maintain the low costs of a privately financed one - with the right management. I consider the LCROSS lunar impactor to be the perfect NASA mission because it returned such profoundly important results and at low cost, only $79 million without launch costs, which is like pocket change for planetary missions:

Inside NASA's Plan to Bomb the Moon and Find Water.
By Michael Milstein
October 1, 2009 12:00 AM
Typically, 10 to 15 percent of a spacecraft's budget goes into instruments; on LCROSS, it's roughly 3 percent, or $2 million. When Anthony Colaprete, NASA's lead scientist for the mission, went to big aerospace companies for instruments, they laughed at his budget. So he turned to small outfits instead. He bought near-infrared spectrometers from a company that makes them for breweries to test the alcohol content of beer on assembly lines. He resisted agency reviewers who wanted him to put an anodized coating on the aluminum storage boxes. "One of their arguments was, `It's not very expensive--just do it,'" he says. "I'm like, `Well, I want to save that $1000. I'm very cheap.'"
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/4277592

LCROSS: A HIGH-RETURN, SMALL SATELLITE MISSION.
Daniel Andrews, LCROSS PM
NASA-Ames Research Center, MS 240-3, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA.
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20100028203_2010030093.pdf

Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership.
Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
The Good Enough Spacecraft.
From Andrews‘s perspective, the LCROSS spacecraft had to be ―faster, good enough, cheaper.‖ He made clear to his team from the beginning that LCROSS was not about maximum performance. ―It was about cost containment,‖ Andrews said. ―LCROSS was not about pushing the technical envelope. It was about keeping it simple – keeping it good enough.‖
The LCROSS team had 29 months and $79 million to build a Class D mission spacecraft. (See below for a brief explanation of NASA mission risk classifications.) The low-cost, high-risk tolerance nature of the project led to a design based on heritage hardware, parts from LRO, and commercial-off-the-shelf components.
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/474589main_LCROSS_case_study_09_23_10.pdf

LCROSS rode piggyback on the LRO mission so did not have to pay for the Centaur space stage, but even if you include this that would only be an additional $30 million or so.

LCROSS Program Manager Daniel Andrews and lead scientist Anthony Colaprete deserve major kudos for using innovative methods to accomplish such a successful mission under cost saving constraints. If we were to have NASA financed asteroidal and lunar prospector landers then they would be my choice to manage those missions.

Note now that if NASA funded these exploratory lander missions that proved definitively that asteroids or even the Moon contained such extraordinary mineral wealth, then under the principle that the government has the authority to grant mining rights to private companies, the U.S. government could sell these rights for a total of, say, $1 trillion, while only having to have spent ca. $200 million for the lander missions.

Bob Clark
 

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RGClark said:
Note that all the components for such a mission already exist, the launcher, the spacecraft, and the rover. All that is required is to mate them together. On that basis such a mission probably could be launched within a year.

Really? You obviously don't work in any area of aerospace.

You cannot build anything in that period of time.
 
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RGClark

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The launcher is already built and the satellite, the rover, is already built. How long does it take to integrate an already built satellite onto its launcher?


Bob Clark
 

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blackstar said:
RGClark said:
Note that all the components for such a mission already exist, the launcher, the spacecraft, and the rover. All that is required is to mate them together. On that basis such a mission probably could be launched within a year.

Really? You obviously don't work in any area of aerospace.

You cannot build anything in that period of time.

I agree with Blackstar, even if you have all the stuff already built doesn't (automatically) mean that they will work all togheter once integrated into a single space system.
Integration, at certain point, is really closer to re-design and sometimes takes even longer (also more expensive) that design something brand new...
 

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i wonder if that work ?
a LCROSS mission type with Centaur stage, the sensors and experiments are on Centaur
on top as payload is lunar rover based on Mars Exploration Rover Mission (modified for Lunar condition)
the Centaur used remaining fuel to slow down, then rover separate and inflate the airbags and lands.

no i don't work in any area of aerospace...
 

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RGClark said:
The launcher is already built and the satellite, the rover, is already built. How long does it take to integrate an already built satellite onto it's launcher?

What rover is already built?
 

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Michel Van said:
i wonder if that work ?
a LCROSS mission type with Centaur stage, the sensors and experiments are on Centaur
on top as payload is lunar rover based on Mars Exploration Rover Mission (modified for Lunar condition)
the Centaur used remaining fuel to slow down, then rover separate and inflate the airbags and lands.

no i don't work in any area of aerospace...

You'll need around 25 km/s of delta-V to slow down sufficiently to do an airbag landing. I doubt the Centaur can provide that. Then you'll need to separate the rover from the Centaur stage.
 
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blackstar said:
RGClark said:
The launcher is already built and the satellite, the rover, is already built. How long does it take to integrate an already built satellite onto it's launcher?

What rover is already built?


Lunar Prospecting Robot To Be Field Tested On Hawaii's Mauna Kea.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 14, 2008)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134111.htm

Lunar Rover Testing on Hawaii Island.
Friday, November 7, 2008
http://www.astroday.net/MKrovers.html

Scarab Lunar Robot - Discovery Channel's Daily Planet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZWMfkl8ZlE

This is the Scarab lunar rover designed by the Carnegie Mellon University robotics lab to operate in the extreme cold of the permanently shadowed regions on the Moon.

Bob Clark
 

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blackstar said:
Really? You obviously don't work in any area of aerospace.

You cannot build anything in that period of time.

ESPECIALLY not consensus.
 

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RGClark said:
What rover is already built?
This the Scarab lunar rover designed by the Carnegie Mellon University robotics lab to operate in the extreme cold of the permanently shadowed regions on the Moon.

Bob Clark

"It serves as a terrestrial testbed for technologies that would be used to explore craters at the moon's southern pole..."

NOT FLIGHT HARDWARE.

I hope you understand the distinction.
 

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RGClark said:
The launcher is already built and the satellite, the rover, is already built. How long does it take to integrate an already built satellite onto it's launcher?


Bob Clark


Satellite is not build.
This is another bogus Clark scheme
 
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blackstar said:
RGClark said:
What rover is already built?
This the Scarab lunar rover designed by the Carnegie Mellon University robotics lab to operate in the extreme cold of the permanently shadowed regions on the Moon.

Bob Clark

"It serves as a terrestrial testbed for technologies that would be used to explore craters at the moon's southern pole..."

NOT FLIGHT HARDWARE.

I hope you understand the distinction.

There will be a media demonstration of the Scarab lunar rover using a new fuel-cell technology on Wednesday, Feb. 29th at the NASA Glenn center:

Media Invited to NASA Glenn to See New Fuel Cell Demonstration on Mobile Rover.
Source: Glenn Research Center
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012
CLEVELAND - A demonstration of a fuel cell that will allow rovers on extraterrestrial surfaces to go farther and last longer will be conducted at NASA's Glenn Research Center on Feb. 29 at 11 a.m.
The new type of fuel cell will extend the range of surface operations for rovers that will explore new worlds as part of future NASA missions. Unlike a conventional fuel cell that needs a pump to remove the water produced inside the device, this non-flow-through fuel cell uses capillary action to wick away the water. By eliminating the pump, a non-flow-through fuel cell is simpler, lighter, and more reliable.
The rover that will demonstrate the fuel cell in Glenn's Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) facility is called SCARAB. It was developed by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, Pittsburgh, under a grant from Glenn, and is regularly used for Human Robotic systems project mobility research in SLOPE.
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=36206

Perhaps one of the reporters will inquire when the test vehicle can be turned into a flight ready version.


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It is no closer to being flight ready than any other rover design.

Actually, the answer is never. It is not intended to be a real lunar rover. It is a concept demonstrator and not prototype.
 

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Those prototypes rover are not ready for Lunar mission

The PC hardware has to replace with Space ready computers like ERC-32
the remote control has be replace with high gain antenna and Transmitter
every moving part like gear wheels from same material has to replace by variously material, other wise they fuse together in vacuum of space !
A similar problem has the electrical motors for the wheels, they must be replaced by special one for use in vacuum of space
All electronic system has to be cooled during lunar day and heated during lunar night (each 14 earth days long)
means the Rover need complex cooling system with radiators and a heat source like Radio isotope generator.

do i have forgotten something ?
 
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Lead scientist Tony Colaprete says it can probably be ready by 2014:

Mining on the moon: gold, fuel, and Canada's possible role in a new space race.
Peter Rakobowchuk, Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:30 AM
The lead scientist on NASA's RESOLVE drilling project, Tony Colaprete, was also the principal investigator for LCROSS, the 2009 lunar probe that found a significant amount of water ice on the moon.
Colaprete says the next step is to find the veins of water on the moon and map out its distribution. That's where RESOLVE would go to work, drilling for samples and analyzing their components.
He says the equipment will be ready to be flown to the moon at the end of 2014. He adds that people are already interested in flying it, both commercially and within NASA.
One missing piece is a rocket to get RESOLVE to the lunar surface.
The United States is now focusing its attention on developing a heavy-lifting rocket known as the SLS, which will replace the shuttle program, but Colaprete says it isn't due to launch until 2017. The SLS, or Space Launch System, is a heavy-launch vehicle being designed by NASA and is expected to be the means of transportation for the RESOLVE payload.
That means the soonest there could be a rover driving around on the moon with RESOLVE is likely around the end of the decade, if all goes well with SLS."
http://www.globaltoronto.com/money/mining+on+the+moon+gold+fuel+and+canadas+possible+role+in+a+new+space+race/6442588944/story.html

I don't know why he says you need a heavy lift rocket to get it to the Moon though. The RESOLVE instrument package and the Scarab rover to carry it are supposed to weigh less than 400 kg. We already have rockets capable of landing that on the Moon.


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RGClark said:
I don't know why he says you need a heavy lift rocket to get it to the Moon though. The RESOLVE instrument package and the Scarab rover to carry it are supposed to weigh less than 400 kg. We already have rockets capable of landing that on the Moon.


Bob Clark

No, there is no off the shelf spacecraft capable of landing on the moon. An unmanned lander would need a standard development timeline of 3-5 years.
 

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Byeman said:
No, there is no off the shelf spacecraft capable of landing on the moon. An unmanned lander would need a standard development timeline of 3-5 years.

Depends on what you mean by 'land'.
 

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Michel Van said:
All electronic system has to be cooled during lunar day and heated during lunar night (each 14 earth days long)

Errr, if the rover is intended for use in the "permamently shaded areas of the moon" why does it need to be "cooled" for the "Lunar day"?

means the Rover need complex cooling system with radiators and a heat source like Radio isotope generator.

That I agree with. A lot more needs to be done but your first statement just didn't gel with what the vehicle was intended to be used for.

I think some people (not yourself, of course) allow hyperbole to get the better of them as far as the ease with which spacecraft and exploration vehicles are built. However, one should always read what the claim is, first.
 

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Kadija_Man said:
Michel Van said:
All electronic system has to be cooled during lunar day and heated during lunar night (each 14 earth days long)

Errr, if the rover is intended for use in the "permamently shaded areas of the moon" why does it need to be "cooled" for the "Lunar day"?

The only such places are the poles - what if you want to explore the rest of the moon?
 
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Google billionaires, James Cameron backing space resource venture.
By Alan Boyle
Today's media alert says the new company "will overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources.'"
"That sounds like asteroid mining," Christopher Mims writes on MIT Technology Review's "Mims' Bits" blog. "Because what else is there in space that we need here on earth? Certainly not a livable climate or a replacement for our dwindling supplies of oil."
Parabolic Arc's Doug Messier, meanwhile, writes that the venture will be an "extraterrestrial mining company."
Diamandis has said on more than one occasion that he's intrigued by the idea of digging into asteroids, for materials ranging from water (for fuel as well as for astronauts) to precious metals such as platinum. The Verge points to a TED talk in 2005 where Diamandis discusses his dream, while Forbes magazine has brought up the subject with him more than once in the past few months.
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/18/11273238-google-billionaires-james-cameron-backing-space-resource-venture


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RGClark said:
The architecture will be to use a larger Centaur upper stage to serve as the propulsion system to take the vehicle from LEO to low lunar orbit. This larger stage will not descend to the surface, but will remain in orbit. A smaller Centaur stage will serve as the descent stage and will also serve as the liftoff stage that will take the spacecraft not just back to lunar orbit, but all the way to back to LEO. The larger Centaur stage will return to LEO under its own propulsion, to make the system fully reusable. Both stages will use aerobraking to reduce the delta-V required to return to LEO.


Are you sure that the Centaur stage can survive aerobraking? I know that Apollo service modules burned up on re-entry.
 

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AdamF said:
RGClark said:
The architecture will be to use a larger Centaur upper stage to serve as the propulsion system to take the vehicle from LEO to low lunar orbit. This larger stage will not descend to the surface, but will remain in orbit. A smaller Centaur stage will serve as the descent stage and will also serve as the liftoff stage that will take the spacecraft not just back to lunar orbit, but all the way to back to LEO. The larger Centaur stage will return to LEO under its own propulsion, to make the system fully reusable. Both stages will use aerobraking to reduce the delta-V required to return to LEO.


Are you sure that the Centaur stage can survive aerobraking? I know that Apollo service modules burned up on re-entry.

He seems to live in his own little world where he makes stuff up.
 

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RGClark said:
.... There was a recent article discussing the idea that a loophole in the Outer Space Treaty might allow private land claims on outer space bodies:

Loophole Could Allow Private Land Claims on Other Worlds.
By Adam Mann | April 5, 2012 | 6:30 am | Categories: Space
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/moon-mars-property/

Then the intriguing question arises: could landing of such a low cost rover on a NEO allow the Astrobotic backers to claim full mineral exploitation rights on potentially a $20 trillion asteroid?


Bob Clark
Bob, you might want to note a couple of things:
The "loophole" does not exist in any way, shape, or form. In fact it has been pointed out numerous places and times that the "suggested" legal angle that the SSPA is supposed to be based on it in fact declares "null-and-void" within the first few paragraphs. (The idea of "basing" the suggested legistlation on the 1967 OST and then suggesting that all government "oversite-and-contol" be negated pretty much has made the entire "suggestion" illeagal in any and all senses. Moreso the fact the person who WROTE the SSPA is supposed to be a real "space-lawyer" has been a major issue from the day it was first "proposed" in 2001)

Rand Simberg recently "discovered" the act I guess but he has no more 'clue' about what the OST actually "says" than it seems anyone else who argues that "Space Settlement is being impeded because of Private Property Rights!" In other words; none.

Lets address your question:
"Then the intriguing question arises: could landing of such a low cost rover on a NEO allow the Astrobotic backers to claim full mineral exploitation rights on potentially a $20 trillion asteroid?"

Uhm the answer has remained the same since BEFORE 1967 but it is fully and completely "YES they could"

THE problem has NEVER been "could" they claim the rights to exploit the asteroid (Moon, Mars, etc) for the purposes of profit that is a simple "fact" and perfectly "legal" under current, exisiting international law. Like "resource-exploitation" anywhere and everywhere on/under/around Earth's oceans anyone may engage in such at any time and walk away with a profit.

The question is can it be done in a manner as to be ABLE to make a "profit" remain the same and are still un-answered. Of course the WORST issue is that actually KEEPING any of your "profit" is fully and totally in the hands of whichever "government" backed and under-wrote the original expedition. What makes investers "nervous" is not the fact they can't "claim" land on the Moon, or an asteroid it is the simple 'fact' that supposedly "free-market/capatilist" nations such as the United States HAVE and CAN choose to "interpret" the "ownership" issue in different ways at different times.

In the past various projects directed at returning regolith from the Moon for sale on Earth have been supported only to find themselves told by NASA/Congress that once the material returns to Earth it BELONGS to the government and not those that returned it! With the actual ability to return and sell materials from space in question and seemingly up to "Congressional/NASA" whims at any one time the ability to attract "investor" interest has been slim to none. I highly suspect that the "new" Planetary Resources (http://www.satnews.com/cgi-bin/story.cgi?number=798465535) and (http://www.forbes.com/sites/briancaulfield/2012/04/20/planetary-resources-co-founder-aims-to-create-a-gold-rush-in-space/) is going to "push" the issue with the Congress/NASA since they actually have managed to work themselves into a "corner" on the issue without realizing it :)

(How? They 'gave-up' the management of civil space vehicles to the FAA. Like most folks I suspect most people will be scratching their heads over how that applies so let me do a little "exampleing" :) )

In the past groups like Artimis Society, Lunar Society, et-al have all had to seek Congressional/NASA "approval" since all space craft launched from a signatory nation of the OST have to have "government" sponsorship/control. In reality this means that while a certain Congress-and/or-NASA managagement could be "supportive" of such an activity a change in either could suddenly declare that any and all "materials" from such an endevor where suddenly "government" property and therefore only the government (Congress or NASA) could decide on the disposition of said materials.
Hence any "sample-return" activity for "profit" could suddenly find that AFTER all the "work" was done thier "stock" could be confiscated by the government with no compensation and pretty much no legal "recourse" available.
(Legally they could fight the government for return of the materials but they would be fighting THE government IN government court and the chances are NOT good that it would go their way)

Now "today" such a group would simply apply to the FAA for certification and clearance to launch their spacecraft. ONCE that is granted and the vehicle launches to and lands on the asteroid (for example) everything is pretty much the same as before. HOWEVER, the OST specfically states that the "spacecraft" that is covered under this is ANY spacecraft, (habitat, cargo module, etc... Pay attention THIS IS IMPORTANT!) built and launched from the Earth OR CONSTRUCTED in-situ in space!

So... Artimis-X1 lander "constructs" a holding bay by deploying mineral and material gathering rovers to the surface of the asteroid. NOTE: At this point the "group" gets to declare safety and containment "zones" around the lander and it's surface probes. Meaning? Well the Chinese asteroid probe "Xia-1" which is scheduled to touch down on this same asteroid now has to remain "clear" of the Artimis operations or is legally open for liablity under the OST. (In the real world it wouldln't make all that much difference given the cost of such expeditions but in reality the "Xia-1" has to "land" on the far side of the asteroid at the very least to avoid damage to the Artimis-1 expedition. GIVEN the 'real-world' costs, and planning required I doubt such a situation would ever arise, but in all reality once the Artimis-1 group "touches-down" they pretty much OWN the entire asteroid simply because no one else has "room" to operate)

But back to the Artimis-X1, the rovers fill the "bay" with samples and minerals collected from the asteroid and the X1 "lander" moves the "bay" to the A-X1 "flight" vehicle (in this example a neat little SEP vehicle I'm imagining :) ) and returns to the surface of the asteriod. The A-X1 starts up its SEP and moves from the asteroid to LEO where a waiting Artimis group spacecraft picks up the "bay" and returns it to Earth for recovery.

NOW, in the "old" days it would be somewhere around this point that anyone who "invested" in the Artimis Group with the hopes of getting a profit MIGHT find out if they actually got to "keep" (or sell) and of the material as NASA management and Congress did the back and forth arguments on who "owned" the material.

HOWEVER, "now-a-days" the FAA has already "certified" and "approved" the Artimis vehicle(s) through a registration process and as noted before this INCLUDES any and all "vehicles" (including materials therein) as "propety" of the Artimis Group so NASA/Congress LEGALLY can simply go "pound-sand" all day long about the materials because CONGRESS has assigned the FAA as the government agency in "charge" of civil space flight :)

Of course while this "legally" means that the Artimis Group "owns" everything they collect how much this will actually "matter" to Congress and NASA is up for debate. That is until it actually gets "tested" by someone.... :)

Hence my "suspcisions" on the Planetary Resources group above :)

Randy
 

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RGClark said:
Thanks for the response. However, you seem to be offering contradictory opinions. You begin by saying there is no loophole for private, financial use of space bodies, then you say such rights have always existed by international law.
What I "said" was that there was NO "loophole" as was being discussed in the article, I then pointed out that such a "suggested" loophole wasn't even needed because CURRENT law does not restrict such off-world activities.
This well-written article on The Space Review site discusses the issue in more detail:

Staking a claim on the Moon.
by Jeff Foust
Monday, April 9, 2012
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2058/1
Reading that one at the moment, I'll get back on it :)

The opposing view to Simberg's is expressed here:

How the U.S. Can Lead the Way to Extraterrestrial Land Deals.
By Berin Szoka and James Dunstan April 9, 2012 | 1:58 pm | Categories: Space, Wired Opinion
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/opinion-space-property-rights/

I don't agree with the argument that Szoka and Dunstan give that Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty bans private use of outer space bodies. This article in the treaty states:

Article VI
States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.

This article only seems to be talking about things like that the uses shall only be for peaceful purposes and that rescue operations need to be undertaken for other nations manned missions if needed, etc.

However, another part of the Szoka/Dunstan argument I do find compelling: that different countries would grant overlapping land claims. Then it would appear such claims would have to be granted by an international organization.
I'll have to read that one also but one thing to keep in mind is the need to be absolutely sure WHICH version of the OST one is discussing :)

The 1967 version which you quote or the 1979 version which does in fact declare it "illegal" for just about ANY private operations in space :)

I've also had the idea to return to reread the Rand Simberg article because I noted similarities to suggest that rather than being actually "supportive" of the SSPA, the article could actually be read as a version of "satirical" support in the same vein as Jonethan Swifts "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of the Poor People from Being a Burthen to Their Parents, or the Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick" so it may be that the majority of people have actually been "misreading" the article. (On the other hand I have not directly read Rands comments as of yet so I may be "reading" into the subject in the fist place however his suggestion that settlements founded under the SSPA would "make their own rules and laws" is a direct violation of the OST and his multiple mention of the settlements being "company-towns" by example is telling as they WOULD be in the worst possible meaning of the phrase)

PPerhaps, you were focusing only on that particular US space act offered on the issue. But of course proposed US laws are always subject to modification. Which one finally is adopted may be completely different. What's important is whether the treaty allows private use of space resources. It is important to note then the treaty most certainly does not ban private, financial use of space resources. The big debate has been about ownership, but you don't even need ownership for private, financial use! The situation would be quite analogous to mining rights granted on public lands. The mining companies have the right to extract even valuable minerals from the ground but they still do not own the land.
Actually the 1967 OST does NOT "ban" private financial use of space resources and in fact does not regulate such activities at all. On the OTHER hand the 1979 "amended-and-expanded" treaty does specifically but it hasn't enough ratifiers to enable any of it as UN Law. Further it is not "recognized" nor signed by any space capable nation at this time.

You DO seem to have gotten my point though which is "ownership" of "real-estate" as suggested by the original SSPA and others is neither required for exploiting or settling outer space nor is the lack thereof been an "impediment" to such activities in the past.

You also discuss, aside from the treaty issue, the difficulty US companies have had in owning space rocks, etc. I don't think there is any doubt that if a private company, privately funded, could return, say, $20 trillion to the US economy, then the US government would pass laws to allow them to accomplish it.
Actually the "difficulty" has not been in "ownership" so much as the lack of clear jurisdiction within the US Government and the absence of any legal precedent in the matter.

THE problem up until now has been that without blinking an eye the "response" to such a proposal has been mixed at best usually either supportive or hostile depending simply on the "mood" of Congressional Leadership or NASA upper-management towards the idea at the "time". Worse though is that such "mood" can and has "swung" violently depending on "unknown" factors that has had the same people going either way on a moments notice.

Even if a "company" were to "promise" to add $20-trillion to the overall "economy" of the US there has been no way for anyone to guarantee that ALL the companies "resources" and profit would not simply be confiscated by the government the moment it got back to Earth. You will note the sudden increase in attention this particular problem is now getting with the recent public announcement for Planetary Resoruces:
http://www.planetaryresources.com/

This company will end up being the "test-case" to get this problem into court and get it solved. Or at least we can hope it will :)

Randy
 

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Again, what do these have to do with the OP? I see nothing about the Dragon
 

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