NASA's planned Lunar Gateway will cost around $ 40 billion. It is built to justify $ 60 + billion for the Space Launch System and the Orion Capsule. The two together will be well over $ 100 billion. We have already spent about $ 30 billion on the Space Launch System and the Orion-manned vehicle.
The stupidest logistics
The road to the Lunar Gateway increases fuel costs for the journey to the moon by 17%.
Here's the analogy to explain the insanity of Space Launch System Orion and the Lunar Gateway. Let us equate the exploration of the Antarctic continent with the exploration of the moon.
It will take us two decades to build special cargo aircraft. The development cost 1
Now we want to explore the Antarctic to create a plan that uses about ten flights of this costly and never flown freighter project for a system of platform-like rigs off the coast of Madagascar. There are landing pads on this floating platform. This will then be the basis for operations to send drones and missions to the Antarctic. You drive from America to something that you make at high cost before you fly to the Antarctic. You could drive directly with a vehicle that has already flown successfully.
The claim is that the Lunar Gateway will cost only $ 2.7 billion by 2023. However, this applies to the first module. The Space Launch System (SLS) will not complete its first test flight until 2021. Each SLS launch costs about $ 1 billion. The International Space Station cost $ 150 billion. Even at a quarter of the scale, the Lunar Gateway will easily cost $ 40 billion.
You will spend more than $ 100 billion to avoid adding new skills and making it harder, longer, and more expensive to do things on the moon. Lunar Gateway, SLS and Orion costs must be added as they are mutually justifiable. Create SLS to start and create Lunar Gateway. If we build Lunar Gateway, we need the SLS.
Moon Direct Plan and Moon Mining
Instead, we should use the Zubrin Moon Direct Plan. It uses existing SpaceX Falcon Heavies.
Construction of moon mines on the moon. 2.5 hectares of the best moonsheds can be mined each year for 2400 tons of water to produce 1640 tons of fuel per year.
SpaceX Falcon Heavies can land 8 to 11 tons of equipment and materials on the moon. This is a wheeled 18-wheel truck full of equipment.
A series of missions of $ 150 million each would build the lunar mining facility, and we could produce fuel that would replace 200 delivery missions.
It would be $ 2 billion to get the first things on the moon, and about $ 10 billion for the first full moon mining operations. We would then start earning $ 2 billion for lower fuel costs for satellites and other space operations. The more we finish in space and the farther we go, the more we come from moon-water and lunar fuel.
We can then use robots to turn lunar soil into lunar cement. We can use moon caves.
We build several drones on the moon. How many drone bases are needed to cover Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria? It needs a few dozen drone bases and airports.
We can build bases such as the McMurdo Station and other scientific stations in the Antarctic. McMurdo has up to 1000 employees.
Antarctica has dozens of bases. You need dozens of bases to explore and explore a continent.
The moon is the eighth continent.