Study Predicts $1.5 Billion Market for Commercial Lunar Services over Next Decade

A study performed by the Futron Corporation, an aerospace consultancy based in Bethesda, MD, predicts that companies such as those competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will be able to address a market in excess of $1 billion over the course of the next decade. The market projection demonstrates the breadth of commercial opportunities that companies are likely to pursue either during or after the conclusion of their Google Lunar X PRIZE missions. The results of this study resonate well with our expectations, and provide excellent corroboration of internal studies conducted prior to the launch of this prize.

The Futron study, which involved a detailed examination of the 19 teams already registered in the competition, as well as a robust analysis of potential lines of business, identified six key market areas: hardware sales to the worldwide government sector, services provided to the government sector, products provided to the commercial sector, entertainment, sponsorship, and technology sales and licensing. Taken together, the study projects the value of these markets to be between $1 - $1.56 billion within the next decade. Additionally, some Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors have set their sights on additional market sectors that fell outside of the scope of the Futron report, which could result in an even higher total market size. I should also point out that the continued discoveries made by the government-funded spacecraft that are currently or have recently orbited the Moon will likely also generate ideas for new addressable markets.

Moon 2.0. Image Credit: X PRIZE FoundationThe breadth and the size of these projected markets are attributes of a new era of lunar exploration quite different from the Apollo era. The glories of the first Moon race were accomplished with only two real developers and two real customers—the national space programs of the United States and of the Soviet Union. Now, we’re entering a new paradigm – Moon 2.0 – that features an enormous variety of innovators each trying to serve a wide range of customers. National space programs such as NASA’s will certainly benefit, but so will academia, the general public, and the economies of those nations where teams step up to meet the challenges of lunar exploration. That breadth of impact will make Moon 2.0 much more sustainable and longer lasting than the first era of lunar exploration.

"We examined a wide range of markets that teams could address, both those that exist today and those that could be enabled by low-cost commercial lunar exploration," said Jeff Foust, a senior analyst with the Futron Corporation. "If one or more teams are able to win this prize competition, they will be able to serve markets potentially far larger than the prize purse."

For fans of the program and for members of current or potential Registered Teams, this is, of course, great news. In every effort we undertake here at the X PRIZE Foundation, it is important that our prizes lead to sustained activity, rather than one off events. With more than a billion dollars available to enterprising teams, we're quite confident that this will indeed be the case for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and that Moon 2.0 will persist for quite some time!

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