This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 13, 2019

Reducing the Cost of Exploring Space

Elon Musk has done it again! If you have been following the Herman Trend Alert, you probably saw my previous coverage of Musk's ambitious plans? "To Mars and Beyond," January 31, 2019. Part of the problem was the cost of the rockets to fly the cargo into space to properly equip the space explorers. Now, it seems that Musk has devised a solution---a relatively low cost per rocket flight---somewhere around $2 million USD. In the past, the price tag for this operation was tens of millions of USD.

One Problem Solved
During a recent discussion at the United States Air Force Base in Los Angeles, CEO Elon Musk told Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, that he believes his operational costs will probably be around $2 million USD per flight, including the cost of fuel and oxygen at around $900,000. Compared to the normal cost to fly cargo into space, this price is extremely low.

The Added Benefit of Using Oxygen and Methane Fuels
Ultimately, SpaceX wants to reduce the cost of rocket launches, so that they will be more accessible. This significant reduction will contribute towards the company accomplishing its goals of building bases on the moon, Mars, and beyond. Moreover, the use of liquid oxygen and methane as fuel means the astronauts could refuel on Mars to travel on even more ambitious missions.

Cargo into Space to Build the First Mars Colony
SpaceX's Starship is designed to transport at least 100 metric tons into Earth orbit. Although the rocket is going into space, it would only cost around four times more than a conventional, sub-space air transport in terms of operation. Musk said this discrepancy was due to SpaceX's focus on creating reusable rockets. Without these reusable rockets, the cost is much greater. Based on Musk's figures, A Starship would cost around $20,000 USD per ton of cargo. Previously, Musk had suggested the cost of sending one ton of cargo to Mars could be around $100,000 USD at the low end. Thus, building a city with one million tons of cargo would cost $100 billion---although suggested the amount could be as high as $10 trillion USD.

On Schedule for the Future
This reusable rocket was an important piece of Musk's Mars and Beyond Goal. We expect this reusable rocket technology to be in demand for other payloads into space as well.


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