Artemis Competition/Profit Possibility Analysis

John Koltes

 

I.              Introduction

 

            Given the lucrative nature of commercial space flight, we at the Artemis Project are not alone in our quest to conquer space. In fact, dozens of companies exists that have more capital, more publicity, and more backing than we do. Most of these corporations are the pet projects of the extremely rich, allowing them the capital benefit of moving tangibly forward with launch plans where we at Artemis have been relegated to planning and hypothesizing.

            Through analysis of our competitors progress, it becomes clear that we have fallen behind pack, greatly reducing the profit possibilities of our entire venture. The state of the market is as follows:

 

II.           Competing Financiers

Billionaires are backing space flight companies similar to Artemis.

 

Who: Elon Musk                       

History: PayPal Founder, CEO
Now: Space Exploration Technologies
Musk spent $100 million developing the 60,000 pound rocket dubbed Falcon 1, which saw its third attempt at an inaugural launch scrubbed on Feb. 10.

 

Who: Paul Allen

History: Microsoft Second-in-Command
Now: Scaled Composites
The seventh-richest person on the planet spent $24 million bankrolling Burt Ratan's company, and has donated $13.5 million to the Seti Institute in Mountainview, Calif., which is dedicated to the search for intelligent life in outer space.

 

Who: Jeff Bezos

History: Amazon Executive
Now: Blue Origin
Blue Origin has begun construction
on a spaceport in West Texas, and has a facility at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport, where it is believed to be at work on a reusable space launch vehicle.

 

Who: John Carmack

History: Id Software Executive and Founder
Now: Armadillo Aerospace
The man behind Doom and Quake is now aiming for the suborbital tourism market. His plan is to use computer-controlled liquid-oxygen rockets to launch people 300,000 above the Earth.

 

 

 

III.         Competing Corporations

Other corporations have tangibly produces systems similar to those dreamt by Artemis. Their progress is real, and is accelerating.

 

Interorbital Systems

Specialty: Spacecraft components
Founded: 1996
Employees: 12
Interorbital is attempting to launch the first spacecraft that can carry six passengers into orbit for seven days. The $30 million Neptune Spaceliner, which could take flight in 2008, is funded by sales of rocket designs and guidance systems. Additional funds will come from selling payload space on the company's Sea Star microsatellite launcher, due to blast off in 2007.

 

Trans Lunar Research

Specialty: Moon habitation
Founded: 1996
Employees: 25 volunteers
This nonprofit foundation, run out of Interorbital's office, has an ambitious goal: to establish a civilian station on the surface of the Moon that will become a base for lunar mining, energy extraction, and exploration. Funded by private donations, Trans Lunar plans to issue grants to support the development of propulsion systems, habitation technology, and oxygen extraction equipment.

 

Note: Trans Lunar Research is practically a twin of Artemis. Their goals, research, and method seem to be the same. Their progress, however, seems greater, as they already are set up as a tax exempt 501(3)c organization. The also have backing from Sun Microsystems.

 

Xcor Aerospace

Specialty: Rocket engines
Founded: 1999
Employees: 19
Xcor's EZRocket is a reusable engine powered by liquid oxygen and rubbing alcohol that has already been flight-tested
. Applications range from propelling airplanes in the Rocket Racing League (which gets under way in September) to powering the Xerus, a suborbital spaceliner being developed with funding from private investors and the government.

Orbital Sciences

Specialty: Launch systems
Founded: 1982
Employees: 2,900 (8 in Mojave)
Orbital is a publicly traded company with revenues of $680 million
and a main office in Virginia. Its Mojave facility is focused on the deployment of its Pegasus rocket system, which is designed to be drop-launched from an aircraft flying at 40,000 feet. That makes it possible to place satellites in low orbit for $31 million, a fraction of the cost of vertical launches. Pegasus has already flown 36 times.

 

 

Scaled Composites

Specialty: Suborbital craft
Founded: 1982
Employees: 135
Famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan has a message for the giants of his industry: The party's over. "Boeing and Lockheed like the fact that they can charge $120 million for a rocket," says the man who built SpaceShipOne, the first private spacecraft, on a relative shoestring budget of $25 million.

If his rivals are Big Blue, Rutan likes to think of his company, Scaled Composites, as the revolutionary equivalent of Apple in 1977. SpaceShipTwo, the seven-passenger suborbital flier he's currently testing, is his Apple II--and he's planning a world-class manufacturing facility in Mojave to churn out the ships.

The first five ships--which are rumored to be as plush as Gulfstream jets--will be flown exclusively by Branson's Virgin Galactic out of Mojave in 2008, although he does eventually expect to sell his ships to other operators. Branson says each ticket for a few minutes of weightlessness will initially cost about $200,000 and that more than 100 passengers have already signed up.

 

 

 

IV.         The Profit Potential

Space systems that could be exploited for profit.

 

ORBITAL LABS

WHAT: Zero-gravity manufacturing facilities would open up new possibilities for the chip fabrication and biotech industries.
WHO'S WORKING ON IT: Kayser-Threde, Space Island Group
MARKET SIZE: $10 billion a year by 2015

 

SOLAR SATELLITES

WHAT: Vast solar panels positioned in orbit could beam energy down to microwave receivers on Earth, theoretically providing enough juice to meet all the planet's electricity needs.
WHO'S WORKING ON IT: European Space Agency, Japanese Space Agency, Space Island Group
MARKET SIZE: $100 billion a year by 2020

 

 

ASTEROID MINING

WHAT: Cobalt, gold, iron, magnesium, nickel, platinum, silver: All these metals, increasingly rare on Earth, can be found in raw form -- and multitrillion-dollar quantities -- in the 3,000-plus near-Earth asteroids, or NEAs, tracked by NASA. But according to Jim Benson, veteran space entrepreneur and founder of SpaceDev, there's an easier and faster profit to be made by tapping into another abundant space-rock resource: ice. "White gold," as Benson calls it, could be the oil of the space industry. Not only is every orbital enterprise going to need water, but hydrogen and oxygen are rocket fuels. NASA administrator Mike Griffin envisions a series of floating fuel depots, supplied by miners working on NEAs (750 of which are easier to reach than the Moon). Ice prices could be as much as $10,000 a pound, since that's the per-pound cost of getting anything to orbit. In theory, only one expedition would be required for a space-mining company to break even.
WHO'S WORKING ON IT: SpaceDev
MARKET SIZE: $10 billion a year by 2030

 

MOON

WHAT: NASA plans a return to the Moon by 2020, as a first step on the way to Mars. Our lunar neighbor may also have about a million tons of helium-3 -- a potential energy source that could be worth $7 billion a ton.
WHO'S WORKING ON IT: NASA, Russia's Energia Space, Trans Lunar Research
MARKET SIZE: $104 billion in NASA contracts by 2018; $250 billion in helium mining by 2050

 

SPACE TOURISM

WHAT: For thrill seekers, this would be the ultimate ride: suborbital (and eventually orbital) adventures on spacecraft like SpaceShipTwo, starting at $200,000 a flight.
WHO'S WORKING ON IT: Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Space Adventures, Virgin Galactic
MARKET SIZE: $1 billion a year by 2023

 

V.           Primary Sources

 

      CNN.com

      Translunar.org