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Golden Spike announces plans for commercial lunar exploration

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December 8, 2012

Artist's concept of a Golden Spike lunar lander

Artist's concept of a Golden Spike lunar lander

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It was forty years ago this month that Apollo 17 took astronauts to the Moon for the last time. Since then, the satellite has only been visited periodically by unmanned probes, but that may change inside the next ten years. On Thursday, the day before the anniversary of Apollo 17’s launch, a new company called Golden Spike announced at the National Press Club that it would be sending commercial exploration missions to the Moon within a decade with a ticket price of US$750 million.

Golden Spike is named after the spike that was driven to commemorate the completion of the United States’ Transcontinental Railroad. It’s led by former Apollo Flight Director and NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Gerry Griffin, and planetary scientist and former NASA science chief, Dr. Alan Stern, so it isn’t lacking for credentials. The company will not only use former NASA leadership, it also intends to build on NASA technology.

Golden Spike logo

Golden Spike calls its approach "’head start’ architecture. Two years in the making, it will maximize use of existing rocket technology and current developments by commercial spacecraft companies to build manned flight and landing systems. A series of studies has already begun and work is underway by various aerospace companies on a lunar lander, lunar space suits, and lunar surface experiment packages to be used on Golden Spike missions. The company will also sponsor an international conference for the scientific community in 2013 on science projects for the Golden Spike lunar expeditions.

Golden Spike sees its market as anyone from individuals to nations who want to go to the Moon for reasons spanning the range from scientific exploration and discovery to entertainment or personal achievement. With the cost of the first landing for a two-person mission set at US$1.4 billion, that will set “personal achievement” at a premium, but Golden Spike is confident that the market will support up to 20 expeditions in the decade following a first landing.

Below is a video released by Golden Spike to announce its plans.

Source: Golden Spike

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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9 Comments

I think it is cool that there is a commercial company that is going to the moon. I think we should go back to the moon; IMO.

BigGoofyGuy
10th December, 2012 @ 05:54 am PST

from nasa.gov

"When galactic cosmic rays collide with particles in the lunar surface, they trigger little nuclear reactions that release yet more radiation in the form of neutrons. The lunar surface itself is radioactive! So which is worse for astronauts: cosmic rays from above or neutrons from below? Igor Mitrofanov, a scientist at the Institute for Space Research and the Russian Federal Space Agency, Moscow, offers a grim answer: "Both are worse."

tampa florida
10th December, 2012 @ 09:10 am PST

Getting a manned mission to the moon(again) is an admirable goal, but with the current regression in space technology it seems unattainable.

A prerequisite for any moon mission would be the ability to put large spacecraft into orbit, and the one machine that could do it has just been retired and shipped off to museums without a successor, which technologically speaking is a tragic step backward in aerospace technology, but a lot of people seem to be happy about killing off a big ol' tax-hungry white elephant.

The Soyuz, or the Dragon capsule won't cut it, and making even bigger vertical-launching bottle rockets like the Saturn's are going to be just too expensive to be viable for repeated use. We need a new approach, a scaled-composites mothership and rocketplane approach, or a hybrid concept like the Skylon seems to be the way forward.

But let's just make one thing clear; the space race ISN'T_OVER!

PeetEngineer
10th December, 2012 @ 10:08 am PST

Peet,

You're forgetting that once you have a module up at the Space Station, if there's a way to refuel it (probably would need to place a solid or liquid contained fuel module at the station prior to the trip), then the jump from station to moon is quite possible. However given the risk would probably put the fuel module at some distance from the station and dock with it. It would require some time outside the module to place the fuel but like a cross country trip, if your gas tank needs to be filled on route, then a refueling station gets you where you want to go...............

sam54
10th December, 2012 @ 12:25 pm PST

Another technology that would cut costs would be unmanned cargo ships that cycle between earth and lunar orbit. The idea being that they would use very efficient but weak/slow propulsion like ion drives, and get there much more cheaply, but take much more time.

Without a manned crew on board, the extra time and rads shouldn't matter much. The advantage would be the ability to move cargo between orbits without expensive refueling.

Jon A.
10th December, 2012 @ 01:24 pm PST

Build a better propulsion system and the moon will beat a path to your door. Until then, it's a pipe dream.

Fritz Menzel
10th December, 2012 @ 05:16 pm PST

Company needs these minimum:

Spaceplane to Orbit Hotel

Lunar shuttle/Lander

Lunar hotel module??

worldwideSpaceport acess alone.

& then later price wars with other Manned SpacePvt ventures later.

Stephen N Russell
10th December, 2012 @ 05:48 pm PST

re; Stephen N Russell

A space plane would be great but Dragon or a Soyuz clone would do. The orbital hotel could be the ship to take them from LEO to LO (Lunar Orbit). This ship need an efficient engine. Ion engines would be efficient but with the length of the journey probably not the optimal answer. A nuclear engine like NERVA would be great but private industry is not going to get one for the foreseeable future. I propose an engine that uses hydrogen as the reaction mass like NERVA but uses concentrated solar to provide the heat instead of a nuclear reaction. This engine could also be used in a slightly modified form for the lunar lander using moon or mother ship based solar concentrators or lasers.

I would lift the space engine reaction mass and oxygen supply from earth as water ice to provide a compact and stable mass for launch.

Slowburn
12th December, 2012 @ 01:02 pm PST

Like others have said, it's good that we're going back to the moon.

We should be using the moon as testing grounds for Mars and other locations. If we can thrive on the moon of Earth, we can do pretty well in many places. Forward, ever forward!

Before we go sending civilians to the moon, we'll want at least a couple of nice, reliable moon bases.

Before we send people back the moon, let's do a serious amount of remote exploration of the territory using robots.

LOTS of people will pay to pilot a remote controlled (RC) vehicle with First Person View (FPV) on the moon; carve their initials on a moon crater wall, etc.

I can envision an electronically limited area of a square mile or so where these remote controlled vehicles will be allowed to explore, jump moon hills and do lunar doughnuts.

I wonder who's working on those collapsible solar powered RC devices.

Dan Lewis
20th June, 2014 @ 09:09 am PDT
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