Such a delivery system, according to Kokh, results only in "flags and footprints." Plus, as Pomerantz adds, they're a long time coming.
"Governments have shown the capacity to do lunar missions and to do them very well," says Pomerantz. "But generally speaking, they can do them only once every decade or so. As a consequence, they do these very big, very expensive and extraordinarily capable missions. They'll take landers or orbiters or rovers that have 20 different sensors on them."
Although such large-scale efforts will continue to play a role in humanity's exploration of the moon, smaller missions will play an essential role as well. These missions will entail both smaller payloads and more streamlined parameters, such as carrying out specific experiments or scouting a landing area.
"Sometimes you need a Mack truck, and sometimes you need a bicycle," Pomerantz says, "and right now the government only has the Mack."
The Lunar X Prize
So if the classic Apollo missions or the canceled Constellation program constituted a Mack truck to the moon, then where do we turn for the bicycle? This, Pomerantz says, is where Google's Lunar X prize comes into play.