§ 7.2.3 Don't Wait for Cheap Earth Launch
Many people in the commercial launch industry say that we need to wait until Earth launch costs come down before we can embark on asteroidal and lunar resources utilization. There has emerged an acronym for this, called Cheap Access To Space, or CATS.
I disagree that CATS is a prerequisite, for several reasons.
- When you do the math, the cost of space resources utilization is not all that much using today's launch costs. It's comparable to large offshore oil and gas projects. The actual launch costs of the equipment to go out and mine an asteroid will not be the main cost item in the project budget.
- The high cost of Earth launch drives up the market price and profitability of asteroidal and lunar resources. The cost of products and services is determined by demand and supply, and competition, not by actual costs. If Earth launch costs come down, then the price of products and services from asteroidal and lunar resources will also come down, and so will profitability.
- There are no Earth launch vehicle projects currently under development which will dramatically reduce the cost of launching from Earth. Some cost reductions will occur by getting more private ventures into the market and with volume demand for launching communications satellites. (Offshore competition from Russia, China and India drives down the market price a bit, but the price is not based on cost but on market price.) However, there are no fundamental new technologies being developed. There is no dramatic reduction in Earth launch on the horizon. There hasn't been for the 40 years since Sputnik first went up. The PERMANENT website covers all the significant Earth launch projects currently under development, to the best of our knowledge. If you wait for a major reduction in Earth launch capability, you may be waiting for a long, long time, and someone will beat you to the resources, the patents and the market.
- Space resources utilization will have a shorter payback time than many projects of the same amount of investment on Earth, at current Earth launch costs.
Many of the people who think we should wait also think that one of the driving factors for space development will be space tourism by ordinary people. I think that significant transport of people into space will happen only when there's somewhere to go. Asteroidal and lunar resources can be used to make decently sized and featured hotels and permanent habitats, much less expensively than blasting them up from Earth. The economic as well as market benefits of having a good hotel in space is discussed in chapter 5.
Many think we should "focus our efforts" on Cheap Access to Space (CATS) by Earth launch. (Many outspoken people in this issue are already investors in those projects.) I don't think that "uniting" for a particular private sector cause is either realistic or the best thing to do. We need diversity. That's what the private sector is best at. There's no one "critical path". (It's the same argument made in the government sector -- to focus on the International Space Station (ISS) and not talk about funding other manned space projects until that is finished. Further, the ISS is not designed for support of utilization of space resources. Space stations are not all the same.)
These arguments will all be moot and quickly forgotten when the first major investor embarks on asteroidal or lunar resources utilization. People's opinions don't matter except in trying to sway investors and money to particular projects. What does matter is who develops space resources first.
spacesettlement.com > Law, Governments, and Private Sector > Private Sector > CATS Unnecessary
If you choose to submit feedback, then I wish to thank you in advance.
After you click on Submit, the page will jump to the top.
Reasons to do something yourself:
- It will help save life on our special planet -- be part of the solution in your generation.
- It will create and secure a better future for your children and grandchildren.
- It could be an interesting, cool, and a fun adventure for your life!
You can join us and volunteer to help out,
... or ...
If you're short on time, you can just donate by seeing our donate page, or contact Mark Prado via his personal website at www.mark-prado.com.
If you really much prefer to send by cryptocurrency, then you can donate into a wallet of any of our cryptocoins, though this is our least preferable way to receive donations ..., so please donate this way only if it's really much more convenient or feasible for you. The wallets are included in my cryptocoin critiques opinion page.
... or ...
Suggest this website to other people and organizations.
PERMANENT needs a PHP / MySQL (actually, MariaDB) programmer. Are you a PHP / MySQL programmer interested in getting into space development as a career, or already working in space development? Or do you know somebody else who might be interested?
This is a volunteer, unpaid role at this point in time. A limited paid role would be considered on a tight budget, such as for at least bug fixing with some minor improvements, and/or a security review of our code before it goes online publicly. If you or one of your friends or associates may be interested, please send an email to spaceprogrammer at ... of course this domain.
To get updates on PERMANENT (occasional, not frequent), get on our mailing list.
For general or specific e-mail regarding PERMANENT, please use our Feedback page.
Leave information about yourself in our people, companies, and organizations database.
If you are interested in hiring our expertise, anywhere in the world, please contact us.
We have people in the USA and Thailand, and can travel or consult by internet.
You can call anytime, 24/7, at +66-8-1135-7977
Text by Mark Prado, Copyright © 1983-2023, All Rights Reserved.
Many website artistic design elements by Sam Fraser, Copyright © 1999-2023, All Rights Reserved.
Except where specifically stated otherwise,
Copyright © 1983-2023 by Mark Evan Prado, All Rights Reserved
P rojects to E mploy R esources of the M oon and
A steroids N ear E arth in the N ear T erm
P rojects to E mploy R esources of the M oon
A steroids N ear E arth
in the N ear T erm
This website has a lot of text content, so here are some suggestions on how to navigate and also recognize pages you're seen already vs. still unseen pages in the SiteMap.
There are 2 ways to browse this website:
- The SiteMap page.
The pulldown menu and the SiteMap are the same tree of pages and links. The pulldown menu offers + and - for expand and collapse sections/subsections/sub-subsections... of the tree, sometimes multiple levels, whereas the SiteMap has everything expanded with no + or - expand and collapse options so the SiteMap is much longer, compared to the pulldown menu if not fully expanded. You may just choose which of the two formats you prefer at a particular time.
The SiteMap colors links red which you have already visited, vs. normal blue for still unseen. It is convenient to browse the SiteMap in one tab or window, and opening pages in other tabs/windows (Ctrl-click or right-click), such as browsing the whole SiteMap to skip pages you've already seen and to choose to open pages you haven't read yet.
The pulldown menu doesn't change the color of seen pages, unfortunately, unlike the SiteMap. However, using the pulldown menu, you can quickly browse the list of sections and other pages without leaving the page you're on. The SiteMap is a separate page of its own.