Earlier this year SpaceX rocketed up to the space station demonstrating that commercial cargo is possible. Now it’s predicted that in a few years people could start riding those rockets, and commercial crew will come into being.
Gerry Griffin, owner of startup company called Golden Spike, believes that the next step in the future is ‘commercial Moon’.
After the spike used to complete the first US transcontinental railroad, Griffin’s company, called Golden Spike, was unveiled on Thursday in Washington DC.
Golden Spike plans to sell tickets to the surface of the Moon for two people at the price of about $1.4 billion. The owner explains that the set price is within reach for many countries and corporations, writes Nature.com.
“The time is ripe for commercial human lunar exploration,” says Griffin, former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. ”Our vision is to create a reliable and affordable U.S.-based commercial human lunar transportation system,” he adds.
The company’s CEO, Alan Stern, denied a wave of rumors that had been circulating on the Internet about the company.
“We don’t have any billion dollar backers,” says Stern, of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
He explained the company’s business plan, on the contrary, is focused on lining up buyers who are willing to commit to a mission. “We need to sell a bunch.”
However, Golden Spike’s CEO didn’t reveal further details and refused to specify how many missions the company would need to sell to turn a profit.
“If we only sell three or four expeditions, it’s completely upside down. We need to sell a bunch. But we do not need to sell ridiculous numbers,” he said.
According to a market study, only 15 to 25 nations can afford lunar exploration and are believed to do so.
As Reuters writes, the list of potential customers includes civilian space agencies, corporations, research institutes and some extremely wealthy individuals.
“We can make it affordable for mid-sized countries like a Korea, an Indonesia, or a South Africa to be in the business of lunar exploration, which would cost them a great deal more to invent that capability,” Stern said.
In addition to selling tickets to the moon, Golden Spike hopes that advertising and marketing campaigns will raise funds.
Griffin’s company is not the first one to propose privately funded missions to the moon.
Similar services offers Moon Express, a mining outfit, and companies participating in a Google-sponsored competition to land a robotic probe on the satellite.
“If I could find investors to get started with, we would be going back to the moon within 10 or 15 years to harvest its energy resources and use them back here on Earth,” former Apollo astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt told reporters.
“The return of investment has to be fairly high because of the perceived risk – in addition to the actual risk to that investment capital – but nevertheless I believe it’s possible that it could be done,” Schmitt added.