Courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS

 

If you have your eyes on the Moon and making money on water mining operations, a new analysis concludes the current market is over $200 billion.

The new market study has looked at the need for water in space over the next three decades.

Producing water on the Moon is considered to be viable and the assessment suggests that “the first company to exploit this identified demand will likely reap extraordinary profits.”

A source of water on the Moon could help make future crewed missions more sustainable and affordable.
Credit: RegoLight, visualization: Liquifer Systems Group, 2018

Attractive rates

The appraisal — Conceptual Economic Lunar Water Mining — comes from Watts, Griffis and McOuat Limited (WGM), based in Toronto, Canada.

WGM has concluded the current market is over $200 billion and that a viable water mining operation on the Moon could produce water at economically attractive rates.

Fundamental questions

According to WGM, the purpose of the study was to answer some fundamental questions regarding the viability of space water mining operations:

  • Is there a potential future market for water in space?
  • What is the expected market price for water in space?
  • Is it technically feasible to produce water in space and at what cost?

“Based on our research, the answer is yes to all these questions,” WGM explains, but adds: “We should note our work is a first-order estimate and is not definitive, as the market is evolving rapidly.”

No assurances

While bullish on lunar water prospects, WGM explains that its analysis is of a conceptual nature and there are “no assurances” that the group’s demand estimates are correct and cautions readers that there is a very high level of variance likely.

Credit: James Vaughan (Used with permission) http://www.jamesvaughanphoto.com/directory-aerospace-defense-illustrations

That said, WGM’s analysis of the space-based water market shows both economic and technical potential to create a space-based mining operation.

“Although our analysis does not conform to terrestrial standards for technical reporting, we have attempted to employ similar methodologies in creating our model. WGM trusts our work will assist future efforts to open up new ventures in space.”

South pole crater exploration.
Credit: NASA

Market demand

In spotlighting the market demand, the study includes looks at satellite refueling, International Space Station demand, as well as a lunar gateway space station, even space tourism and hotels.

The report recommends that additional engineering work be carried out by governments, academic groups and private enterprise to solve some of the technical challenges they have identified.

Credit: WGM

 

 

“We also challenge Earth’s entrepreneurs and financiers to consider how to finance and launch commercial ventures to take advantage of these markets. By doing so, WGM believes the colonization of space by humankind will be achievable in the not-too-distant future,” the study explains.

 

 

 

To read the full study — Conceptual Economic Lunar Water Mining – go to:

http://wgm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ConceptualSpaceMiningStudyandBusinessCase.pdf

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