In order for private companies to go to the moon (or anywhere else), there has to be something there that they want, or absolutely need, to make or
manufacture something that people down here on Earth will want and will buy.
Supply and Demand of course.
Let's say this: it's discovered that cell phones can be made even better in a way that will make everyone that owns one, want to buy this new one
(this is a horrible example, but just follow along).
Let's say the material required to make this new and improved cell phone can only be found on the moon, as it's just too rare here on the earth.
They would have to look at the cost of getting up there, getting a facility estabilshed to mine this material, and get it back of course (plus the
cost of manufacturing here on earth).
Getting stuff back to earth is easy peasy (well in relation to getting stuff up there). The moon's gravity is much weaker than Earth's so it takes a
LOT less energy to launch something from the moon. The earth's gravity helps make it a down hill voyage back to here.
Getting stuff up there on the other hand, takes a very large amount of energy. You'd have to send a LOT of material up there to estabish a facility
(building materials, food, air and water, etc).
They would also need to take a look at: can the facility become self sustaining? Or will the company always have to ship stuff up to them? If it's the
latter, then the profit making goes way, way down, if not actually non-existant.
If the facility can be self sustaining, then it's better, but they would still have to spend an huge amount of money to get there and set it up, until
it can be self sustaining.
Then, as illustronic pointed out: they would have to sell this idea to their stock holders, and show a really good money making deal. The stock
holders would make or break the idea.
So until something is found on the moon that is in HIGH demand here (helium 3 is wanted....but there is just not enough HIGH demand for it), most
companies will just continue to stay here on Earth and use it's resources as it's a lot cheaper to get, making profit easier.
10-2-2012 by eriktheawful because: (no reason given)