Thu December 20, 2012

To The Moon! Boulder Company Hopes to Blast Off Within Decade

A Boulder-based aerospace startup received global news coverage last week with plans to launch tourism expeditions to the moon. It may sound like pure sci-fi, but the Golden Spike Company says lunar missions could begin as soon as 2020.

Boulder County Business Report publisher Chris Wood says the company (which is named for the last spike that completed the transcontinental railroad) would use existing rockets and commercial spacecraft being developed by other private companies to provide trips to the moon for nations, individuals and corporations.

Erin O'Toole talks moon missions with Boulder County Business Report publisher Chris Wood for Morning Edition

A few of the company’s credentials…

Golden Spike is headed by Allen Stern, its president and CEO. Stern lives in Niwot and is an associate vice president with the Southwest Research Institute, which is based in San Antonio but maintains its department of space studies in Boulder.

Stern is also former chief of NASA’s space and earth science programs. He’s joined by Golden Spike’s chairman, Gerry Griffin, an Apollo flight director and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

When might the company be ready to launch its first moon mission?

Golden Spike has said it wants its first launch by 2020. Besides being focused on fundraising, Wood says they’re currently working on a lunar lander.

In addition, Golden Spike is working with manufacturers of spacecraft, spacesuits and life-support systems. The company only recently completed its business plan, which Stern says proved the technical and financial viability of the venture.

The million (or billion?) -dollar question, of course: How much will it cost to go to the moon?

According to Wood, the company says its first mission would cost between $7 billion and $8 billion, including the company’s startup costs. Subsequent missions would run about $1.5 billion for each two-person mission.

So for a mere $750 million -- you could have your very own ticket to the moon. Better start shaking out the couch cushions now...

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