US start-up company, Golden Spike, plans to offer affordable and routine trips to the moon.Lead by former NASA executives, Golden Spike has put a cost of $1.4 billion on a two-person lunar surface mission, which matches what it currently costs national space agencies to send robots. They made the announcement on the eve of 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, which was the last time humans were sent to the moon.
The company plans to adapt existing rockets and make these available to nations, individuals, or corporations with lunar exploration objectives and ambitions.
"We could not be able to do this without the many breakthroughs NASA made in inventing Apollo, the Shuttle, the International Space Station, and its recent efforts to foster commercial spaceflight," says company chairman Gerry Griffin, an Apollo Flight Director and former Director of NASA.
Building on those achievements, The Golden Spike Company is ready to enable a global wave of explorers to the lunar frontier."
They are about to begin a series of studies into designs for the lunar lander, lunar space suits, and lunar surface experiment packages to be used on their missions. In doing so, Golden Spike joins other commercial ventures such as the company Space Adventures which are hoping to make ‘moon tourism’ a reality.
Dr Stern, president and CEO, also a former head of all NASA science missions, adds:
"We’re not just about America going back to the Moon; we’re about American industry and American entrepreneurial spirit leading the rest of the world to an exciting era of human lunar exploration.
It’s the 21st century, we’re here to help countries, companies, and individuals extend their reach in space, and we think we’ll see an enthusiastic customer manifest developing."
Reasons to visit the moon the company suggests, could be anything from aims of scientific and commercial nature to national prestige or personal accomplishment.
In a mission statement on the company website, Golden Spike says:
"The Golden Spike Company is planning to transform human space exploration by putting in place affordably priced lunar orbital and surface expeditions to the only natural satellite of the Earth – the Moon. Golden Spike will further transform human lunar exploration by making these missions participatory expeditions that involve the general public in ways that create exciting new ways to monetize human space exploration."