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Posted: Dec 07, 2012
Private firm plans to offer Moon trips for $1.4billion (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) Golden Spike Company says it will use existing rocket and capsule technology, and will aim for a first launch before the end of the decade.
The firm is one of many new private firms hoping to follow the success of Space X, which has ferried cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
Artist's impression of the proposed Golden Spike lunar landing module.
The US became the first and only country to reach the Moon in the 1960s.
But costs and waning interest have prevented any other lunar mission. US President Barack Obama cancelled a planned Nasa return to the moon, saying the US had already been there.
The Golden Spike team, run by former Nasa associate administrator Alan Stern, says it is looking into offering voyages to the governments of other countries - such as South Africa, South Korea and Japan - expecting interest for scientific research or national prestige.
"It's not about being first. It's about joining the club," he said on Wednesday. "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 company believes they have an addressable market of 15 to 25 customers for lunar surface missions between 2020 and 2030.
Watch the Golden Spike video announcement:
Golden Spike is full of space veterans: the board chairman is Apollo-era flight director Gerry Griffin, who once headed the Johnson Space Center.
However, Harvard University astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks launches worldwide, told the Associated Press that many of the new space firms will fail before anything is built.
"This is unlikely to be the one that will pan out," Mr McDowell said, citing Golden Spike's hefty price tag.