A team of former NASA executives is launching a private venture to send people to the moon for a hefty price.
According to Fox News, for the lofty price of $1.5 billion, the newly formed firm (Golden Spike Company) will be offering countries a two-person trip to the moon. These trips could be used for research, for national prestige, or to simply get away.
The new venture was announced on Wednesday.
It’s been 40 years since NASA last sent an astronaut to the moon.
The United States has been the only country to safely land people on the lunar surface. By doing so, the United States beat the Soviet Union in a space race that caught the interest of the entire world.
Once the race ended, however, interest in the moon has been rather minimal. In fact, President Barack Obama cancelled NASA’s planned return to the moon, saying that America had already been there.
According to former NASA associate administrator (and president of the new Golden Spike Company) Alan Stern, the firm has spoken with other countries and they have shown a lot of interest in going. Stern said that the firm is looking at countries like South Africa, South Korea, and Japan.
According to Stern:
“It’s not about being first. It’s about joining the club. We’re kind of cleaning up what NASA did in the 1960s. We’re going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s.”
Stern said that the firm is aiming for its first launch before the end of the decade and then up 15 or 20 launches total.
There have been a number of private space companies that have started up recently. This does not mean that those other companies will make it. Of course, that is a risk involved in any field.
Many of the newly started companies hope to follow the success of Space X, which has ferried cargo to the International Space Station for NASA. However, according to Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, more than 90 percent of new ventures will fail before anything is built.
The latest company is full of space veterans and American University space policy professor Howard McCurdy has called them “heavy hitters” in the field. Their board chairman is Apollo era flight director Gerry Griffin, who once headed the Johnson Space Center. Its advisers include space shuttle veterans, Hollywood directors, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, and engineer-author Homer Hickam.
Stern says that the firm will buy existing rockets and capsules. This means that they will only need to develop new spacesuits and a lunar lander.
Still the question that remains is: Is the $1.5 billion price tag too steep?
What do you think?