Would-be space travellers that have the interest, the enthusiasm and the money, will be able to visit the moon if plans that are being formulated by a group of former NASA engineers come to fruition.
The former engineers, who between them have experience of space travel and past NASA visits to the moon, have formed The Golden Spike Company. Now they are planning to offer the opportunity to normal people who have the large sums of money to pay for their dreams. The company is promoting itself as the first private venture to plan routine exploration expeditions to the lunar surface. Former NASA science chief, Alan Stern, and Gerry Griffin, a former Apollo flight director and former director of the NASA Johnson Space Centre, have conceived the idea.
If their plans are implemented, pleasure trips to the moon could become a reality by the end of this decade. The only aspect that could deter space tourists is the high cost involved, because the estimated cost for a two-person lunar surface mission starts at $1.4bn.
Sceptics might draw some comfort from what Gerry Griffin has to say about the idea. Griffin, who also served as deputy director of the Kennedy Space Centre, said that technical know-how to explore space has grown over the years. In fact technology has become so ubiquitous that many private-sector start-ups are exploring the possibility of sending tourists to the moon. He added, ‘We’re in the midst of a historic era in commercial space flight.’
The company said that it was planning to use existing rockets and employ emerging commercial-crew technology to keep costs relatively affordable.
The company’s board of directors includes a broad range of individuals, including a ‘Star Trek’ set designer.