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Moon Space Science

Golden Spike Working On Private Moon Flights 121

medcalf writes "NBC reports that Alan Stern's Golden Spike Company is planning commercial trips to the Moon. From the article: 'A group of space veterans and big-name backers today took the wraps off the Golden Spike Company, a commercial space venture that aims to send paying passengers to the moon and back at an estimated price of $1.4 billion or more for two. The venture would rely on private funding, and it's not clear when the first lunar flight would be launched — but the idea reportedly has clearance from NASA, which abandoned its own back-to-the-moon plan three and a half years ago. Golden Spike's announcement came on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last manned moonshot. Backers of the plan, including former NASA executive Alan Stern and former Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin, were to discuss the company's strategy at a National Press Club briefing at 2 p.m. ET, but some of the details were laid out in a news release issued before the briefing. "A key element that makes our business achievable and compelling is Golden Spike's team of nationally and internationally known experts in human and robotic spaceflight, planetary and lunar science, exploration, venture capital formation, and public outreach," Stern said in the news release.'"
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Golden Spike Working On Private Moon Flights

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:38PM (#42210925)

    If I were planning this, I'd like to first launch an automated habitat onto the Moon. If we weren't in a Cold War driven "space race", maybe we would have done that. We have some working knowledge now about long duration exposure to the space environment. We just need to work out landing something ISS-sized on a planet, or getting manufacturing capabilities there to build it in-situ. We also have better robots now. Build it, and then come.

  • by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @08:54PM (#42211091)
    Eventually the moon will replace Florida as *the ultimate* retirement community. It's really only a matter of getting cheap propulsion systems, and then everything else falls into place. If a trip to the moon can be reduced to the cost of, say, 5x a roundtrip cross-country flight, then infrastructure will start to be built, communities set up, regular freight traffic (space truckers!) and then people by their thousands migrating there. Close enough to home but with 1/6 the gravity (and fewer falling injuries, bonus). It's the perfect place to retire to, once the infrastructure gets there.

    I'm hoping this happens in the next 40ish years so I can spend my final days there.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @09:52PM (#42211543) Journal

    Is anyone else struck by the fact that people who are allegedly intending to deliver an economically feasible private-sector ride to the moon would choose a name alluding to the completion ceremony [] for a massively government-sponsored(and deeply politicized and not a little corruption-plagued) infrastructure project?

  • The reason why the "small space station" is a problem is precisely because it is in Low Earth Orbit. There are no "native resources" at that location to do anything useful. That particular orbit is really only useful as a way station to other places in the Solar System and for people and stuff going in both directions... to the Earth and from the Earth to elsewhere.

    The problem with the ISS and why it is so hard to keep going is because it is incomplete. It was also done in the most expensive way possible and with the least sustainable way of keeping it going. I consider it a miracle that it was put up in the first place mainly because of the insane contracts and government bureaucracies involved in getting it built. If you built an international airport with eight runways, hundreds of hangers, thousands of rental cars, several hundred employees, and an interstate highway leading up to that airport but only had two Cessna airplanes fly into it each year.... it would be equally useless and a huge waste of resources. That is what we have with the ISS. It could be useful but it was built in the wrong way to be useful in the way you are suggesting.

    You are also making the completely wrong notion that commercial spaceflight activity is not currently happening except for a few stupid extreme adventure people like Felix Baumgartner. It couldn't be further from the truth and in fact commercial spaceflight activity is already a multi-billion dollar industry. The Earth and its economy would simply shut down if it wasn't for existing infrastructure in space and for existing applications of commercial spaceflight. You use them all of the time without knowing it too. When you see astronauts running around, they are just the tip of the iceberg of the actual activity which is happening. Simply put, there is plenty to do in space and ways to make money just to support the existing infrastructure of what we are currently doing in space. That by itself would more than justify putting some people up there simply to take care of that equipment... particularly given the increasing complexity of much of that equipment which is being sent into space.

    In other words, there are some space tourists and extreme adventure type people going into space, but they are so insignificant right now as to be ignorable on a statistical basis for the real stuff that is happening in space. Supporting that infrastructure from stuff you can get from space is already right now something which can close a business case for going up there right now. In fact, there are multiple businesses who are trying to do just that, and Golden Spike is just the latest of a long string of companies.

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