Press Release

SpaceDev Finds Lunar Missions Can Be Completed for Less Than $10 Billion

By SpaceRef Editor
November 22, 2005
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SpaceDev Finds Lunar Missions Can Be Completed for Less Than $10 Billion

SpaceDev announced the results of its International Lunar Observatories Human Servicing Mission, conducted for Lunar Enterprise Corporation. The study, which was completed in phases over the last three years and presented at the International Lunar Observatory Advisory Committee Workshop held this past weekend, concluded that safe, lower cost missions can be completed by the private sector using existing technology or innovative new technology expected to be available in time for the first mission. NASA recently announced plans for a Lunar mission expected to cost $104 billion over 13 years. SpaceDev’s results indicate a more comprehensive series of missions could be completed in a fraction of the time for one-tenth of the cost. Each mission, as envisioned by SpaceDev, would position a habitat module in Lunar orbit or on the moon’s surface. The habitat modules would remain in place after each mission and could be re-provisioned and re-used, thus building a complex of habitats at one or more Lunar locations over time.

“We are not surprised by the significant cost savings that our study concludes can be achieved without sacrificing safety and mission support. Since SpaceDev was founded, our projects and studies have consistently come in at significantly lower costs than those of the large aerospace companies and government agencies,” said SpaceDev founding chairman and chief executive, Jim Benson. “If we are correct about our Lunar mission cost estimates, our type of human mission could have forty people visiting the Moon for the cost of NASA’s first mission.”

The SpaceDev study creates a conceptual mission architecture and design for a human servicing mission to the Lunar south pole targeted for the period between 2010 and 2015 that would be low in risk and cost. The length of stay on the Moon will be seven or more days, depending on cost, practicality and other trade-offs. The study explored existing technology, technology currently under development, and proposed technology that could be developed by NASA, other countries or the private sector in time to be incorporated into the mission.

The study divided the missions into segments, for example Earth launch to low Earth orbit (LEO) and to Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO), LEO and GTO to Lunar orbit, Lunar orbit to landing, takeoff to Lunar orbit, Lunar orbit to LEO, and return to Earth from LEO. The study also concluded that a combination of technology already under development or under consideration by SpaceDev and other companies could be combined to create a growing and lasting presence at the Moon again at costs significantly lower than those proposed by other organizations. In addition to existing launch vehicles, components such as the orbital version of SpaceDev’s proposed six passenger Dream Chaser(TM) vehicle, based on NASA’s HL-20 Personnel Launch System, and hybrid rocket motor modules can provide rapid, cost-effective building blocks to construct a variety of missions.

An exciting concept, borrowed from an early mission design based on sending a Mercury capsule to the Moon, is the “rocket chair” used to land each of the four Lunar visitors. The rocket chairs as envisioned by SpaceDev would be modular and dual purpose, able to land small Lunar observatories or other science experiments, and could also be used to land individuals from orbit. The rocket chairs have the additional feature of having sufficient propellant to ascend back to the command module for the return trip to Earth. On the way to the Moon, should a problem develop, the four rocket chairs, attached to the capsule, have sufficient propellant to return the capsule to Earth for a direct atmospheric reentry.

About SpaceDev

SpaceDev is a high tech space development company that creates and sells affordable and innovative space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises. SpaceDev’s innovations include the design, manufacture, marketing and operation of sophisticated micro- and nano-satellites. SpaceDev designs and builds safe hybrid rocket motor propulsion systems for sub-orbital and orbital transportation systems for cargo and for human space flight. Upon founding SpaceDev in 1997, Jim Benson started the trend of successful computer entrepreneurs moving into the space development arena. For more information, visit

Except for the factual statements made herein, the information contained in this news release consists of forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Forward-looking statements are based on the Company’s current expectations. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance, and the Company’s actual results could differ materially from the Company’s current expectations based on many factors that are directly or indirectly related to the items discussed above. Reference is made to factors set forth in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including “Management’s Discussion and Analysis” and other sections of the Company’s most current Annual Report on Form 10-KSB and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-QSB as well as to subsequent Current Reports on Fork 8-K. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events or circumstances after the date of this release.

SpaceRef staff editor.