Landing humans back on the Moon could cost only $10 billion, one-tenth the cost of previous estimates of $100 billion, according to a study released by the National Space Society and the Space Frontier Foundation, two nonprofits that advocate building human settlements beyond earth.
“A factor of ten reduction in cost changes everything,” said Mark Hopkins, executive committee chair of the National Space Society, in a press release.
The 2014 Human Spaceflight Report cites two source of cost reductions: the forging of private and international partnerships, and the ability to mine fuel on the Moon. The report envisions setting up a lunar industrial base that mines water from the lunar regolith, reports Popular Mechanics, and then sends the hydrogen into orbit around the Moon where Mars-bounds spacecraft can refuel. The industrial base would house four astronauts. Within 12 years, it would provide 200 megatons of propellant at a cost of $40 billion.