Landers have a history of not selling as well as they should, and this week’s announcement of a new $100,000 model could see them back in the black.
The Australian National University (ANU) report, Lander Price and Cost, suggests that the latest models are worth the cost.
The researchers found that a lander costing $500 can produce about 20 tonnes of payload.
That means a $500 rover would produce about the same amount of payload as a $10 million rover.
But the cost of that payload is still significantly less than the cost that a $50 million lander would have to carry.
The ANU’s Lander Cost Analysis group found that the landers have become the cheaper and more versatile versions of the old landers, with the price of the latest versions falling from $5,500 to $1,000, making them less expensive to build than the previous generation.
“Our research suggests that, over the next three decades, lander price will fall by as much as 80 per cent to $500, or by as little as $1 per kilogram of payload,” the ANU researchers wrote in the report.
“The lander that we have found to be the most efficient for the amount of cargo it carries has also shown to be relatively affordable, at just $1.5 per kilo.”
The ANS researchers analysed five different lander models and found that they are all cheaper than previous versions of landers.
They found that for each metric tonne of payload the new model costs less than previous models by about two per cent, or $1 in US dollars.
However, it’s still more expensive than previous landers costing $10 to $50 per tonne.
“We found that cost savings are limited by the size of payload, the mass of the rover, and the relative size of the two vehicles,” the researchers said.
“As the size and mass of each vehicle increases, so does the cost per kg.”
In fact, the cost difference is so large that the cost savings will actually increase the number of lander missions launched to be launched over the years.
The cost savings also extend beyond the cost and volume of the payloads themselves, as the ANS research also found that, if the cost were increased, the number and cost of land missions would fall.
“These savings would not be enough to offset the loss of payloads for future missions, but they would make it cheaper to launch future lander flights,” the authors said.