Golden Spike Company to Lay Private Tracks for Human Moon Missions

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

A new private effort focused on getting humans back to the moon by 2020 appears to be led by a Colorado start-up called Golden Spike Company, according to published reports.

S. Alan Stern, the former NASA science chief who now works for the Southwest Research Institute, is the registered agent for the company, which is identified as a foreign corporation in Colorado state records.

NASASpaceflight.com, which first broke the news earlier this week, reports that “the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors”. The company plans to make a formal announcement in December.

The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.

The plan apparently has been circulating for some time among advocates of private exploration and commercial exploitation of the moon. A brief mention of the plan was included in a description of a conference held in Hawaii in May titled, “Independent Human Moon Mission: Prospects Emerging From Rising Tide of 21st Century Exploration.”

A privately circulated proposal, known as “Golden Spike” and backed by respected scientific and astronautical entities, envisions the development of a reliable “Cislunar Superhighway”.

The Internet domain goldenspikecompany.com is registered to Doug Griffith, a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in space and aviation law who is an advocate for commercial human spaceflight.

The name “golden spike” has historical resonance for anyone building a transportation system. The Golden Spike was a ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. This act completed America’s first transcontinental railroad, uniting the nation from coast to coast.

Editor’s Note: A shout out to Clark Lindsey for digging up some of this information.