David Gump of Astrobotic writes about his company’s plan to fly commercial payloads to the moon:
Astrobotic Technology will carry 240 lbs. (109 kg) to the Moon for researchers and marketers as part of its maiden expedition in 2012 to win the Google Lunar X Prize.
Science instruments, prototype exploration devices and commercial packages will be carried at $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000 fee per payload to cover the engineering costs of integrating it into either the expeditionâ€™s lander or its solar-powered robot….
Celestis Inc. already has reserved 11 of the 240 pounds available on the initial Moon mission. Houston-based Celestis operates a space burial service for cremated remains, with eight missions thus far to the Moon, Earth orbit or a suborbital trajectory.
Ordinarily, researchers seeking access to the Moon or other planetary surface must develop an entire multi-instrument mission themselves. NASA spends several hundred million dollars for each of its â€˜Discoveryâ€™ and â€˜New Frontiersâ€™ projects. The Astrobotic by-the-pound approach enables researchers and marketers to deploy a single instrument to the lunar surface for substantially less cost.
Read the full blog post.