Boeing can use all of the space on the moon’s surface, because it’s not at all flat. At some point in a lunar orbit around the planet, you must make something else happen; a moon landing sounds more like it would be nice. And that something else would require something with a place for a building. At some point, we could use the lunar surface simply as a huge staging area, to launch into outer space. If we have that in space in a couple years, it would look more lunar.
Image via NASA/JPL The space that Elon Musk’s company would provide is not so much rocket-launching, but rocket-boosting, with rockets. On its most likely trajectory, the rockets would use electric propulsion. An electric propulsion system looks like this:
Image via NASA This is not rocket technology. If we want to build rockets, we need to be able to make them. That’s what we need to know. It wouldn’t do anything to reduce the cost of a rocket. The rockets would still be expensive. I am assuming these rockets take about 8 kilowatts of electricity to operate. This is just a rocket system, not rocket technology, but a combination of two different technologies: electric propulsion and rocket-making. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia) An electric-powered system uses the same kind of batteries as your car’s batteries: Lithium-ion. This is just a big battery, not a rocket battery. For a rocket to work, a rocket that uses rocket batteries would be just different. We don’t know if there would be any battery issues; there are plenty of small battery-powered rocket systems around. But the most likely problem would be how the rocket power is spread between a bunch of different batteries. Let’s leave that technology for another day. On the other hand, a rocket booster uses liquid-fueled rocket fuel that burns at substantially higher temperatures than a rocket engine’s fuel. The liquid-fueled rocket engine engine is just too heavy for that, and would be too heavy for the rocket booster. This is a hybrid system. First, the rocket-battery system requires the rocket to burn more fuel. But more than one rocket is not really ideal. But the more a rocket burns, the better it is. The rocket could be set up so that it could be launched from many different launch sites, to reduce the amount of fuel used. And the battery system is just great for rocket engines that have to operate at a higher temperature for long periods. It could work, but it’s got a few issues: The most obvious problem is that we have to find some place on the moon to hide a rocket booster. Here’s an example of the problem:
Image via NASA Once, on the moon in the far-end of the moon, a rocket booster could lay in the shadow of a giant boulder and still make it to the launch site. But later, all of this would fall out of the moon. But the rockets wouldn’t be destroyed, and we’d still be able to launch. Also, the rocket booster would be incredibly heavy for an Earth-bound spaceship. In theory, it could be made smaller by using the rocket as a tank. That would allow easier storage and less weight. But this would also force our spaceship to be much larger at a launch site, which is not a desirable choice. In addition, rocket boosters can’t be launched like rockets. There’s currently a huge difference between a rocket booster and a rocket booster, so if the rocket didn’t launch, that’s going to cause a lot of problems later on when we make the rocket as a rocket. A lot of the problems in a rocket can be fixed. A rocket booster could be used as a booster as well, because it would be on the same rocket, and be able to keep going if needed. And the booster is not in any place where the rocket is. That’s why it seems like the real problem with a lunar lander is that we would be able to launch the lander, but don’t have a place where we can set it up for when you need it. SpaceX’s version of a lunar lander looks like this: Image courtesy of SpaceX, NASA This is really just a scaled-down version of SpaceX’s version of a rocket. But let’s just pretend, for just a moment, that it were true. It looks good. It’s got a nice rocket. But if we were able to make something like that, we could use it as a propellant. Of course, we need to learn how to actually make a rocket fuel, so we can actually use it. However, what better way for us to learn how to make it, than