The Artemis Project (sm)
Frequently Asked Questions
Rev. 15, Updated 22 September 1994


 
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Contents



1. What is The Artemis Project?

The Artemis Project is a privately financed commercial venture to establish a permanent, manned lunar base and to exploit the resources of the moon for future development of space travel.

The Artemis Project is unique among proposals for developing a moon base because it:

  • (a) is a 100% privately financed commercial venture,
  • (b) plans to develop a lunar base within the next decade, and
  • (c) will show a profit from the first flight to the moon.

    2. What are the projects goals?

  • 1. To build a permanent manned base on the moon
  • 2. To exploit lunar resources for profit
  • 3. To demonstrate that manned space flight is with in the reach of private enterprise
  • 4. To bootstrap private industry into manned space flight

    The first Artemis flight places a habitat on the moon for permanent occupation.

    3. What is the reference mission plan?

    Artemis Reference Mission

    The reference mission is being used in the current feasibility study to determine costs, revenues, and technical and political issues. Right now we are looking at only the first flight in detail.

    Two Space Shuttle launches will be used to get the Artemis hardware into low Earth orbit, where the moon vehicle will be assembled. Our crew goes up with the hardware on the second Shuttle flight.

    If the International Space Station is available and the launcher can deliver our spacecraft to it, we plan to use the space station as a staging base. If not, we will launch the first element on one flight and then rendezvous with it on the next flight. In that case our crew will use the Shuttle as a staging base for assembling the Artemis spacecraft.

    The Space Shuttle was selected as the launcher for the reference mission because, although it is the most expensive launcher in the world today, it is also the most capable man-rated booster. Current development of new lower-cost launchers in the United States and abroad may change the situation before Artemis is ready to launch. Until then the Shuttle is the best vehicle which can satisfy all the Artemis mission demands. Also, we are being as conservative as we reasonably can in defining the reference mission. If the costs and revenues balance using the Space Shuttle, then they will look even better with a less expensive launcher.

    There are three distinct spacecraft in the reference mission:

    Lunar Transfer Vehicle -- a small spaceborne habitat with propulsion systems and support for the crew during flight between Earth and lunar orbits.

    Descent Stage + Lunar Base Core Module -- a propulsion package attached to the core moduleÕs pressurized habitat lands it on the surface of the moon.

    Ascent Stage -- a simple, open vehicle (often referred to as "a rocket-powered hammock") to return the space-suited crew from the lunar surface to the orbiting lunar transfer vehicle.

    These three spacecraft make up the stack which is flown to the moon. After the stack is assembled at the space station, the lunar transfer vehicleÕs rockets are used to fly to lunar orbit. The reference mission uses a trajectory almost identical to the Apollo flights.

    Upon arrival in lunar orbit, the lunar base core module with its descent rockets separates from the lunar transfer vehicle and lands on the surface of the moon.

    The lunar transfer vehicle remains in lunar orbit at an altitude of 60 nautical miles. Advances in automation technology and guidance and control systems since the Apollo program will probably allow the lunar transfer vehicle (LTV) to remain unmanned during the surface operations. We are assuming automated guidance can handle the necessary orbit circularization and plane change without the need for a human on board. If so, we save the additional weight required to support an LTV pilot during the mission.

    On the moon, the crew levels the lunar base core. After landing vertically, the descent stack drops a foot at the end of a long truss to brace against, and then the core module rotates into position.

    The crew conducts extravehicular activity to assay the site and gather samples of the lunar regolith (moon dirt). The crew also sets up cameras to get stock footage of the site and their activities, as well as to record their ascent and the arrival of the next flight. (They film activities throughout the flight, both stock footage and scripted scenes for later use in movies and documentaries.) When surface activities are complete, the crew boards the ascent stage and makes the two-hour flight to rendezvous with the orbiting lunar transfer vehicle. The entire ascent is EVA, with the crew depending on their space suits for life support. The flight should pose no greater hazard to the crew than two hours of surface EVA.

    After docking the ascent stage to the LTV, the crew returns to Earth orbit. Unlike Apollo, they do not do a direct entry into Earth's atmosphere. Instead, they expend more fuel to brake their trajectory and enter Earth orbit for a rendezvous with the space station.

    Carrying the fuel for the final braking to Earth orbit reduces the size of the base we can leave on the moon, but there are several advantages which appear to outweigh that cost. By leaving the transportation system in orbit for use on later flights, we lower the cost of future development. It also reduces the cost of the initial flight by eliminating the need to develop a vehicle which can operate in the atmosphere, and trades the weight of the additional fuel for the weight of the heat shield which would be required for atmospheric entry. An alternative to using rockets for braking to Earth orbit would be to use a heat shield as a aerobrake; however, aerobraking technology is still in the early develop stage and the expense of developing it is beyond the anticpated capital resources of the Artemis Project.

    At the space station, the crew secures the LTV and ascent stage. The LTV may be used at the space station for additional laboratory space between flights, or it may be leased for other operations in Earth orbit. Among the proposals we've received is to fly the LTV on a mission to a Near-Earth Asteroid. With additional fuel tanks plus food and air for the crew, it could perform this mission with little modification.

    Once the Artemis vehicles have been secured at the space station, the crew returns to Earth on the next available Shuttle flight. It is possible (but not necessary) to conduct the entire moon flight in one Shuttle flight, with the crew flying to same orbiter up and then back down to Earth's surface.

    The mission is not over once the crew goes home. To survive the cold, 2-week-long lunar night, the moon base will need a lot of insulation. By burying the core module in moon dirt, we provide the necessary insulation as well as protection from radiation and meteroids. A telerobotic dirt mover is included in the mission plan for this purpose. Since the lunar base can survive several lunar nights using just its heaters, this machine does not need to be very large. We can take several months to lay a blanket over the habitat.

    The robot may also be able to get camera footage of the Artemis stackÕs initial descent to the lunar surface. This will be first time any vehicle has been recorded landing on the moon.

    4. How can private enterprise afford to build a moon base?

    Artemis Costs and Revenues

    Previous moon base studies have based their cost models on the performance of government projects and assumed revenues would come only after decades of development. The resulting high capital costs and long term before realizing any profit made it impossible for private enterprise to finance a manned space venture. Artemis addresses both the cost and revenues issues. Because this is private enterprise venture, we can reduce development costs by desiging the spacecraft to commercial aerospace industry standards, and financing becomes realistic because the project offers an immediate return for the investment.

    Analysis of government-sponsored space projects shows that no more than 10% of the money, usually even less, is actually spent on developing and operating the spacecraft. The rest goes to the enormous support effort and inefficient organizations necessary to answer the changing whims of the U. S. Congress, support a large institutional bureaucracy with extensive fixed assets all over the world, and to adapt to the government's management-by-meetings philosophy. While some of these extra costs can be trimmed, most of the overhead is the inevitable nature of government programs.

    Private enterprise does not, and could not, work that way. By organizing as a private company, acquiring resources no sooner than necessary, using the project schedule as a working tool rather than worshipping it as an icon, and refusing to allow the project to lose sight of its goals in favor of implementing some politician's social agenda, the costs of any program can be reduced by a factor of ten or more. Additionally, Artemis reduces its costs by using technology and resources already developed in previous manned space flight programs.

    Our current estimate of the total cost of the program through the first flight is $1.27 billion. This level of investment is quite common in the business world. For example, one new deep-water oil rig typically costs about one billion dollars.

    Artemis will pay for its initial development by exploiting the entertainment value of the first flights. This is not as unreasonable as it sounds; to the average citizen, manned space flight is little more than a form of entertainment, and the economic power of the entertainment industry is enormously greater than all aerospace endeavors combined. For example, a single major motion picture like Star Wars or Jurassic Park will gross more than a billion dollars in its first year, with about half the revenue coming from tickets sold at the box office.

    This is why the first mission must be manned; the entertainment value of a robotic flight is not sufficient to pay the bills. The estimated revenues are based on comparison to similar mass-marketing ventures which tie movies or television shows in with associated products. The Apollo program was run with engineering precision, its drama hidden by the need for a government agency to present an unflagging image of confidence to the world. In stark contrast, The Artemis Project is designed to be entertaining from the start. With half a dozen science fiction writers already working on the project, we think it is very likely we will attain that goal and still retain the projectÕs major appeal which sets it apart from pure science fiction productions -- the Artemis Project is real.

    In short, we plan to pay for the initial stages of the project through shameless commercialism.

    Our current estimate of the net revenues from the entertainment value of the project, through its first flight, is $1.56 billion. This is the immediate return; it does not include the profit to be made in the long run by exploiting lunar resources.

    5. Who do you think you are? D. D. Harriman?

    "Nope; Harriman had it easy. More like P. T. Barnum!" - Gregory Bennett

    It's a question I get asked as frequently as any other, so it needed to be included along with my usual response. Harriman is the title character in Robert A. HeinleinÕs story, "The Man Who Sold the Moon." We are putting together the greatest show on Earth! Or elsewhere.

    6. Why "Artemis"?

    Early in the project, we decided to go back to the tradition of using names from ancient mythology for manned space flight programs. Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo carried human beings to the moon in less than ten years, but manned space programs lost sight of their exploratory nature and fell into lethargic bureaucracy when they adopted more pedestrian names like Skylab, the Space Shuttle, and the Space Station.

    Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. She is the moon, and Apollo is the sun. Artemis is also the goddess of the hunt, a constant reminder that our project is a voyage of exploration, a venture which will live off the land in its travels and return products of great value to our home on Earth.

    7. What is The Artemis Project doing now?

    We spent the past year putting together the basic reference mission for the project and gathering data for the cost estimates. Currently we are setting up the company as a corporate entity, conducting the first phase of the detailed feasibility study and preliminary design, scheduling public talks on the project, and making contacts with with all areas of the entertainment industry regarding the project.

    An article about the project will appear in January 1995 issue of Analog magazine.

    8. Does The Artemis Project support low-cost access to space?

    Absolutely! Our reference mission is based on use of the Space Shuttle for access to low Earth orbit. This reference mission is being used for determining technical and cost feasibility; but many new launchers currently under development promise dramatically lower launch costs. This in turn increases our chances of success with the project. New launchers could increase the initial profit to stunning proportions both by lowering launch costs and increasing the project's entertainment value.

    One of the primary goals of the project is to become a customer for low-cost launchers. If we are successful in exploiting lunar resources, we will help build the space traffic model to cost-effective proportions.

    9. Is the International Space Station important to Artemis?

    While it is possible to develop the Artemis space vehicles and conduct the reference mission scenario without it, the International Space Station program adds significantly to our chances of success. There are several reasons for this.

    Without a space station, it is extremely unlikely that low-cost, man-rated launchers will be developed any time in the near future.

    The Artemis Project's vehicles and moon base are based on using designs and technology developed for the International Space Station Program. Elements of the space station's habitats, power, cooling, communications, propulsion, and thermal control systems are all directly applicable to project with little modification. This reduces the project's costs.

    Finally, the basic mission scenario calls for using the space station as a staging base for the flight to moon. We could do the mission during a single Shuttle flight, with the Shuttle loitering in low Earth orbit while Artemis flies to the moon and back; but the time windows are very tight. A space station allows the Artemis hardware to be assembled and checked out in low Earth orbit where it can wait for replacement hardware to arrive if need be. It also provides an orbiting base for the Lunar Transfer Vehicle.

    10. Where is the project now?

    We're currently at the viewgraph engineering stage, piecing the project together with volunteer labor. While we are conducting the feasibility study, we are also setting up the entertainment side of the business. Artemis Magazine should begin publishing in early 1995, and we expect to have several Artemis logo products available by then.

    Our feasibility study is looking at technical, political, and financial issues in more detail to see if we can discover a fatal flaw in the plan. The more detail we dig up the better the cost picture looks and the worse the political picture looks.

    Below is the overall schedule we are working to. Please keep in mind that a key cost-saving factor of The Artemis Project is to work no faster than the current need and available resources; this is a working schedule, not a worshipped schedule.

                          Working Schedule
     
         Feasibility Study and Exploratory Design              1994-1995
            Technical -- spacecraft, operations, long-range
                         mission plans, availability of off-the-shelf
                         designs and key personnel
            Financial -- cost model, revenue model, business plan,
                         availability of capital, cashflow
            Political -- laws, treaties, potential roadblocks,
                         alternatives and work-arounds
         Preliminary Design                                    1996-1997
         Final Design, Development, and Test                   1997-2001
         First Flight                                               2002
     
    
    

    11. How can I invest in The Artemis Project?

    An offering will be made when we have cleared all the paperwork through the Securities Exchange Commission. Send us your address via email (artemis@LunaCity.com) or write to us at the post office box if you would like to receive notice of the initial public offering.

    We expect that debt financing will not be a reasonable course for this project because banks will be reluctant to lend money for something no one has ever done before, so we are planning to raise all the initial capital for the the project through the sale of stock and with revenues from the project's entertainment value.

    12. Does the project have jobs available?

    Not yet. We probably will not be in a hiring mode until the first phase of the feasibility study is complete. Our reference mission will employ about 300 people over a period of 10 years.

    13. What can I do to help?

    There are thousands of things that need to be done to get this project going, some part of which is bound to match your interests and talents. You can participate by doing some research in areas as diverse as the specifications for spacecraft parts and the marketing of toys. You can write or do artwork for PLEIADES or ARTEMIS magazine. You can develop software for engineering or business data bases, dig through mounds of lunar data to help select the best landing site, or work through a crew activities timeline. We have quite a list of projects in our job jar already, and new ones will be described in PLEIADES as they come up.

    14. Where do I go for more information?

    The main address for the project is at the beginning of this faq. For information about Artemis Magazine, write :

    Artemis Magazine
    P. O. Box 831
    Akron, Ohio 44309-0831

    Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with all correspondence; and help us with reproduction and handling costs by enclosing a dollar if you want the Fact Sheets. (Here we go again: checks should be payable to "Lunar Resources.")

    The primary electronic forum for discussions about the Artemis Project are on GEnie in the Science Fiction Round Table, page 470, topic 28. (No, that's not a plug for GEnie. General Electric is not paying us a dime for this. Yet.) The text of this paper is available in the GEnie SFRT1 library. You may find it helpful to write for a copy of the "Artemis on GEnie" fact sheet, which lists all the topic categories and includes information on how to get a new GEnie account.

    To join the Artemis Project electronic mailing list, send email to server@LunaCity.com with the body of your message being:



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    Enjoy the Adventure!