Washington: A team of former NASA executives are launching public trips to moon at jaw-dropping prices. The team will make you fly to the Moon for a mere $1.5 billion.
The venture called Golden Spike Co. was announced on Thursday and is offering trips for two people, either to individuals or to countries for research or national prestige.
Some space experts, though, are skeptical of the firm’s financial ability to get to the moon.
NASA`s last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago Friday. The United States is the only country that has landed people there, beating the Soviet Union in a space race to the moon that transfixed the world. But once the race ended, there has been only sporadic interest in the moon.
President Barack Obama cancelled NASA’s planned return to the moon, saying America had already been there.
Former NASA associate administrator Alan Stern, Golden Spike’s president was quoted saying to a news agency that “Golden Spike has talked to other countries, which are showing interest”. Stern said he`s looking at countries like South Africa, South Korea, and Japan.
“It’s not about being first. It’s about joining the club,” Stern said. “We’re kind of cleaning up what NASA did in the 1960s. We`re going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s.”
The selling point: "the sex appeal of flying your own astronauts," Stern said.
The company will buy existing rockets and capsules for the launches, Stern said, only needing to develop new spacesuits and a lunar lander.
Stern said he`s aiming for a first launch before the end of the decade and then up 15 or 20 launches total. Just getting to the first launch will cost the company between $7 billion and $8 billion, he said.
Besides the ticket price, Stern said there are other revenue sources, such as NASCAR-like advertising, football stadium-like naming rights, and Olympic style video rights.
Company board chairman Gerry Griffin, an Apollo flight director who once headed the Johnson Space Center, said that`s a correct assessment: "I don`t think there`s any technological stumble here. It`s going to be financial."
The company is full of space veterans; American University space policy professor Howard McCurdy called them "heavy hitters" in the field. Advisers include space shuttle veterans, Hollywood directors, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and engineer-author Homer Hickam.
(With Agency inputs)