I want to go to the moon. How much will it cost?

I’ve wanted to go to the moon all my life. I don’t necessarily want to come back. Yes, I just turned 28 and I’m already planning my death. I want to die on the moon.

How much money would it cost for me to pay a destitute space program to pop me (and, say, Anniz, too) onto the moon?

I’d like to survive the landing, but I don’t want to settle there too long; just long enough to sit back and watch the earth rise a few times. So, settling costs should be nil; I’ll just pack a few sandwiches and maybe an extra oxygen canister or two.

I figure if Dennis Tito can pay $20m for a week in orbit, I could finance a Saturn V-equivalent blast for… $50m? $100m?

You waited too long. Because no governments are interested in the moon any more, none of the hardware (including the launch facilities) is in any kind of working order. There are a couple of Saturn V’s lying around, but to refurbish them, you’d have to practically recreate the entire mid-1960s industrial base of the United States. The tools just don’t exist any longer.

So, that puts you in the position of starting from scratch in terms of hardware. (The technology, of course, exists). The “Artemis Project”, a private group dedicated to putting a permanent colony on the moon, estimated in 1994 that it would cost about a billion and a half dollars. Speaking as a fully qualified Rocket Scientist, I have my doubts - a single shuttle flight has a marginal cost of half a billion dollars. The private space groups always think they can do it for less than it ends up costing the government, but they forget that the government thought they could do it for less money than it ended up costing the government, too.

Oh! Oh! Take me! Take me! I want to go!

I’ve had this fantasy too, although I usually live through it. My idea of the ultimate vacation would be to take a walking tour of the six Apollo landing sites, although I’d like to do it in such a way that I don’t disturb anything.

Hey, it’s a fantasy OK?

But seriously, I can’t imagine resurrecting the old Saturn V’s would be the way to go. I think each of those launches cost something like half a billion dollars, all things considered.

The Artemis Project is trying to find ways to send people back to the moon, but not for tourism. There web site is here: http://www.asi.org/index.html.

You might also try this outfit, it being the one that booked Denis Tito’s trip: http://www.spaceadventures.com/.

HA! The moon always has the same side facing the earth, so the earth never moves in the lunar sky - no earthrises or earthsets. You better plan on being there a long, long time (like forever).

Hey City Gent wouldn’t the Russian Energia Booster work? Granted, we’d have to restart the line…

I guess my GQ is this:

Does she know this? :eek:

Aw, we’ve got lots of boosters that could put you on the moon, if you don’t want to come back and don’t need much life support. After all, we managed to fire Cassini at Saturn, and it required a lot more Delta-V and weighs thousands of pounds.

The rest of the guys here are talking about a sustainable moon colony, or a return mission. This increases the requirements greatly. If you just want to be stuffed in a capsule with some oxygen tanks and some kind of retro rockets that can land you on one piece on the moon, you could probably get an Ariane-5 to send you there, if a software glitch doesn’t blow you up on the pad first.

I’ve got a better idea. Just shut down the Department of Education for a year. That’ll give you 35 billion dollars or so to play with. And the great thing is, the kids will never notice. Test scores would probably go up.

It’s not easy. We currently have no spacecraft designed for a controlled descent onto the moon, so that will have to be developed from scratch. There are off-the-shelf engines and life support equipment available, but probably not the control system.

And it’s a lot of work to come up with a new spacecraft! A brand-new design will need to be extensively tested. Even if it’s just a lunar descent capsule, it needs to survive launch, navigate to the moon and perform a powered descent.

Add that to the cost of launch, and I’d be very surprised if you could do it for $1 billion. It IS rocket science, you know.

Quoth Terminus Est:

HA! right back atcha. You forgot about libration: To a second approximation, the Moon always faces the same side towards the empty focus of its orbit, not towards the Earth, so if you’re right on the edge of the visible part, you can watch the Earth rise and set a few degrees.

I think you’d have a hard time convincing any official space agency to take you on a one-way trip; it would be bad press for them that they left someone to die on the moon, even if that was their wish.

Yes, I have Anniz’s permission for this, on the condition that we’re pretty old when we do it (her idea of old=90, mine=40, but I digress). :slight_smile:

I don’t want to come back. I want to stay there for all eternity. For my inspiration, please see the final scene of Space Cowboys (spoiler, I guess). I’d like to survive long enough to check out some neat places, like Hadley Rille, but I just want to make sure I’m on the near side, so I can face the earth. Thanks Terminus Est and Chronos for correcting me about earthrise, I forgot that was a lunar-orbit-only phenomenon. D’oh!

I also realise that I’m probably too late, so a lot of technology would have to be re-invented. That’s why I inflated my price tag to about $100m. Perhaps it would cost closer to a billion dollars?

Obligatory Heinlein reference: Check out the short story “Requiem”, found in The Man Who Sold The Moon or The Past Through Tomorrow.

SNAP!!! The exact same thoughts just ran through my brain!

Having just read those stories in a Heinlein anthology, the sentiments expressed by Montfort sounded very familiar.

Damn, damn, damn, you beat me to it. Tho I guess with a username such as your own, I should have expected it.

When will travelling carnivals start featuring rocket ship rides?

What, no * The Moon is a Harsh Mistress * references?

Gratuitous right-wing anti-government rant #1287. Collect 'em all!

It was a fine post till this, Sam. Why don’t you start a GD thread about why we don’t need the Department of Education and see what happens?

Aw, it was meant to be a joke, but yeah, I guess it was a joke with a biased point. Forgive me.

Well, here’s a rough idea you can run with, provided you’ll be happy just being there.

Get an IUS upper stage from Boeing. Supposing they’ll sell you one at all, it’ll run you probably $10 million.

Have a Gemini capsule “built to print”. It seats two, so your sweetie can go with you. A lot of upgraded Gemini were designed by McDonnell and Martin to go into lunar orbit and even land on the moon. That’ll probably run you another $10 million. You might be able to find an old boilerplate capsule used for drop tests or something that could be refurbished for a lot less.

Surround said capsule with a big bag that you can inflate like a balloon. You’ll have to carry compressed helium so you can inflate once you get near the moon. Then attach the capsule rig to the IUS. I’ll do the design on a contract basis - my fee is $100 per hour, but since I like your moxie, I’ll do it for half that. Plus, I know where they keep the IUS drawings :slight_smile:

Buy time from a commercial launch service on a Titan 34D and have them put the whole shebang into low-earth orbit. That will run you at least $100 million, because the thing will be heavy. When you get into LEO, point that sucker at the moon and light your IUS. You have to set it up so that you hit the moon tangentially. I’m not a flight dynamicist, so I can’t help you with this part. I think you can survive the flight, because that same setup is used to put satellites with fragile antennas and whatnot into geosynchronous orbit.

When the moon is as big as a soccer ball, inflate your balloon. Make sure your seat belt is fastened. If you get lucky and survive the landing, you’ve probably got a week or so of gazing out the window of the capsule before the CO2 concentration gets you. I know one Gemini mission went at least 13 days, so you’d have air and water enough for that, and it takes you four days to get to the moon. You’ll be too excited to eat, so you can save weight by not taking any food.

So there you go, a trip to the moon for probably $150 million when all is said and done. Plant a flag for me when you get there!

Yeah! Thanks City Gent! That’s what I wanted to know.

The only tricky part would be the “inflate and land” idea you have. I’d like to do a normal/soft touchdown, simply so I can ensure that the LM isn’t unfortunately placed in a way that would have, say, the hatches on the bottom. I think Pete Conrad is still alive, and he did such a kick-ass job landing Apollo 12, I wonder if he wouldn’t mind coming out of retirement to help us get down on the moon. Or maybe he can train me.

Didn’t the Mars '97 Surveyor land airbag style? Did it roll on the red planet until it was right-side up? Maybe we can do that…

So, $150mil, eh? I think I can swing that. :slight_smile:

The plan outlined by City Gent has serious flaws. First, you can’t just dig up a Gemini blueprint and build it. Where do you get all the 35-year old components? If you try to replace them with modern components, you’ll end up designing a whole new spacecraft, with all the associated design and testing work.

The other flaw is the airbag landing. When you reach the moon, you’d be travelling at at least one mils per second. (I admit I haven’t taken the time to calculate it, but it can’t be much less than that.) There is no way you can survive an impact at that speed, no matter how big an airbag you have. The airbag worked for the Mars probe because the probe was already slowed down by the atmosphere, using heat shields and parachutes. The moon has no atmosphere; the only way to slow down your spacecraft is with rocket engines.

There really is no vehicle that can be easily converted into a lunar lander. A completely new spacecraft will need to be designed. I can’t guess what the cost of it will be, but I just noticed that the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle was supposed to be $80 million. That’s a new manned spacecraft with no engines and already proven technology. Your moon lander would have more complex navigation and control system, so it will probably be more expensive, maybe $200 million. Add the transfer vehicle and launch vehicle, and you’ll probably be in the $500 million range. So my previous estimate was a bit high, but I think $150 million is way too optimistic.