Let’s say you need to go from point A to point B on earth. Depending on the distance, terrain, weather and other considerations, you can drive or take a flight or go by ship or train. All these modes of transport have means of refuelling at regular intervals.
But what happens when you’re flying in space? As of now, there are no refuelling stations in space. And that’s exactly what the Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) plans to establish and operate in the next ten years- by 2020, according to the company’s plans.
This is a huge step for the space tourism industry simply because currently, more than 90% of the payload of a spacecraft is on account of the fuel.
If refuelling stations in space are available, then the weight of the spacecraft can reduce. The availability of a fuelling station in space also makes it possible to sell other consumables.
Bill Stone, founder of SEC, believes that the cost of setting up a refuelling station on the surface of the moon would be of the order of $15 Billion.
SEC plans to launch two robotic scouting missions by 2015 to evaluate the viability of such a venture. The idea is to use ice from the moon to make liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen based propellants.
SEC is using RocketHub, the crowd funding site, to raise money for its ambitious programme. The target is to raise $1.2 million by end of 2011. At the time of writing, $4050 has been raised.