WASHINGTON - It had to happen: A start-up company is offering rides to the moon. Book your seat now - though it's going to set you back $750 million (it's unclear if that includes baggage fees).
Led by heavy-hitter former NASA executives, the Golden Spike Co. would boldly go where humankind went 40 years ago, this time commercially, hawking tickets to foreign governments or space tourists.
"Two seats, 750 each," said former NASA associate administrator Alan Stern on Thursday.
You won't have to joystick the lunar lander yourself, so don't worry about dodging killer craters and boulders on the way down. Everything will be automated and controlled from Earth. It'll be like taking a train, the company said.
The company sees 2020 as a plausible date for that initial trip.
Golden Spike would need to commission a lunar lander and moonwalking suits, but most of its mission architecture would rely on commercial rockets and capsules already flying or under development.
The primary targets for Golden Spike are foreign countries that want to do lunar science or attain the prestige of putting their own astronauts on the moon. Because of political sensitivities, the company would not sell a moon trip to China, which has been expanding its space program, Stern said. Nor would the company sell rides to any country restricted by law from access to U.S. technology that could be used for military purposes.