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  • Writer's pictureDenis Kalyshkin

A commercial case for the Moon colonization

Today we witnessed the new milestone in space exploration. Artemis mission was launched which will lead to the new era in Moon exploration! Of cource it's not that exiting as it was for our grandparents when they watched Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon. Unfortunately, nowadays a flight to the ISS has become a routine. We need new challenges and frontiers. I hope I can witness an astronaut setting foot on Mars during my lifetime.

Although the Space Industry is already $360B+ market and is forecasted to reach $1T+ by 2030, if we are talking about the colonization of the Moon and Mars, I often hear people objecting if we should go there. It is expensive and impractical to deliver minerals to the Earth from the Moon or other planets. It may take decades to build factories and economics outside the Earth.

A year ago I had a conversation about a viable usecase for Mars colonization with one of the partners investing in SpaceTech. We used colonization of the Americas as a reference. I didn't know that people had paid for their oneway ticket to the New World. So we need to come up with an idea when someone would like to pay for her/his ticket to the Moon or Mars.

It may sound crazy, but the cheapest goods to export from any planet in the solar system are lines of code. Israel has been exploiting this strategy for decades. So let's start with the Moon. To launch an IT department there, we need to deliver several dozens of laptops, servers, and telecom equipment. Of course, you still need to build the Lunar Module, but you will need it anyway at some point. Now we need to find a motivation for developers to fly there. I believe there are hundreds of thousands of space dreamers in the IT sector and it would be easy to find 5-10 thousand clients annually who would agree to such a journey. You probably remember Howard from The Big Bang Theory bragging about being an astronaut. Just imagine the photos they will be posting on Instagram from the first lunar parties. By the way, it will increase employee loyalty since you won't quit the job if your flight is on the schedule. The employees will also have a great incentive for a healthy lifestyle.

Let's estimate the annual market size. Of course now the flight is extremely pricey. If we reach the range of $200-$300k per employee and send 5-10 thousand clients annually, we result in a $1-3B market size which is viable for VC investment. IT companies already have remote teams and perks for employees and can offer to work 6-12 months from an office on the Moon. By the way, they also can market their products as “Made on the Moon”. This will help your company you to stand out among competitors. It should also cause other companies to follow. We will also see the first retail stores, restaurants, cinemas, and IT companies to provide their services for the first space village.

To pay for the trip the employee can take a loan while the company can cover interests. To avoid the risks associated with the death of an employee during this trip we can use the same legal framework that is applied for remote employees. Keep also in mind that you have nothing to spend money on when you are on the surface of the Moon, it's an all inclusive trip. To implement this idea we will need to solve many more engineering problems, drammatically reduce the cost of the flight, develop residential modules, etc. Perhaps it will not even be economically viable for the next 20 years, but at least it's a commercial usecase which goes beynd boring military, R&D, and helium 3 mining. Let's brainstorm ideas together and pivot to something really cool:)

Original article was published in my LinkedIn here.

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