Credit: ISS/NASA

A lunar resources ecosystem having a $32 billion economic impact after 20 years is plausible – but there are critical uncertainties and several variables.

New research delves into a rosy “Moonopolis” scenario and a low-resources, “Apollo 2.0” future.

Appearing in the journal, Acta Astronautica, the research paper is titled: “The cis-lunar ecosystem – A systems model and scenarios of the resource industry and its impact,” authored by Marc-Andre Chavy-Macdonald, Kazuya Oizumi, Jean-Paul Kneib, and Kazuhiro Aoyama.

Credit: Marc-Andre Chavy-Macdonald, et al.

Complex trade-off

“Lunar resources is one of the many new putative business models that may transform space logistics. Yet it competes with Earth-based resources, in a complex trade-off involving both tech development & socioeconomic dynamics,” the paper states.

The study models the size versus time of a future resource ecosystem focused on water for exploration and satellite refueling – in cis-lunar space.

Top critical uncertainties include the accessibility of resource finds on the Moon, and government investment in lunar resources. Three variables are crucial, the research team notes: government support to production development, production firms’ re-investment, and growth of the Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) telecom satellite industry.

Credit: Marc-Andre Chavy-Macdonald, et al.

Well-placed near Earth

The Moon and cis-lunar space, the paper explains, is a far more accessible target than Mars colonization, and has drawn the attention of diverse public and private players in a nearer time horizon: space agencies, large firms, start-ups etc.

“Indeed the Moon is well-placed near Earth, and its much shorter transit time is crucial for human operations. It has a relatively favorable geography for resources: a large, diverse geological body at an energetically advantageous location for space transport.”

In summary, the research has combined societal and technical variables and captured knowledge from dozens of experts to create a holistic model of a future, complex ecosystem around lunar resources.

This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan (GSDM program), and by the Swiss Space Office (Research Initiative on Sustainable Space Logistics).

To access “The cis-lunar ecosystem – A systems model and scenarios of the resource industry and its impact” go to:


Leave a Reply