Christmas shoppers looking to buy the perfect gift for the space enthusiast in their lives might consider getting an early start on their 2026 holiday shopping and plan for a ride to the moon.
By then, Moon Express founder Naveen Jain plans to be selling lunar flights for $10,000 per seat, a feat made possible by the increased affordability of space travel technology.
The first rocket Moon Express will use next year during their historic private mission to the lunar surface, the company's MX-1 lander perched atop a Rocket Lab Electron booster, will cost about $5 million.
After that, however, Jain expects the price to drop dramatically with the same spacecraft budgeted to run $2 million within five years, and within a decade seats on lunar flights will be available for about $10,000.
Moon Express was founded in 2010 as a space travel company with the goal of mining the moon for valuable resources while at the same time establishing a lunar tourism economy.
Earlier this year, Moon Express became the first privately owned company to be granted permission by the U.S. government to land on the moon, according to CEO and co-founder Bob Richards.
"We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth's eighth continent, the Moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth's economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity."The company will compete for the Google Lunar XPrize with their 2017 lunar mission. The contest is a $20 million race to be the first team to put a robotic lander on the moon and drive 1,640 feet while beaming HD video back to Earth; second place is worth $5 million and another $5 million is awarded for achieving various goals.
The space travel company plans to follow up their robotic 2017 mission with several more lunar missions intended to explore to the surface of the moon and locate valuable resources for later extraction, according to Jain.
"Space travel is our only path forward to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children."The missions are part of Jain's attempt to allow humanity to leave Earth and establish colonies in space and on other planets to avoid an extinction event that could wipe out life as we know it, the Moon Express founder told the Telegraph.
"Ask a dinosaur for advice on what we should do if an asteroid were to hit us."If all goes well in the space tourism economy, tourists will be able to book a flight to the moon within the next decade and stay in a hotel in orbit above Earth while watching cargo ship shuttle up from our planet's surface, Jain told Space.com.
"In 15 years, the moon will be an important part of Earth's economy, and potentially our second home."Moon Express isn't the only company working to create a new space-based economy above Earth; along with several tourist companies, the United Launch Alliance is in the process of building a cislunar economy trading in resources.
Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic just tested the SpaceShipTwo, the second in a series of commercial spacecraft designed to offer flights into space for $250,000, the space travel company founder told Seeker.
"We've got an exciting year ahead and this is just the start of it."Meanwhile, Arizona-based World View Enterprises is poised to launch tourists into space without a rocket by next year. For $75,000 a seat, the company will put passengers in a specially designed high-altitude balloon that will travel into the stratosphere.
Even China is getting into orbital tourism; the country plans to build the world's largest spaceplane with room for 20 passengers for a cost of $250,000 per seat.
What do you think of the emerging space tourism economy?
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