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., 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 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.

  • Duncan Sparks

    “Foreign corporation”? Too bad Stern did not have enough faith in the U.S. to set up his new company there but went offshore instead. Any idea what country Golden Spike Company is registered in?

  • CheapGuy

    Often “foreign” just means another State rather than country. Take a look at Wikipedia for the various meanings.

  • David Bigsbee

    Yeah your right CheapGuy. Go back 150 years and you’d rarely hear some one call the American states one single country. The definition has been diluted over the years due to nationalism.

  • It’s a Delaware corporation. Sorry for the confusion. My bad.

  • An understandable confusion given the foreign investors.

    Bob Clark

  • Just saw this article by legendary Apollo manager Chris Kraft mentioned on the forum:

    Space Launch System is a threat to JSC, Texas jobs
    By Chris Kraft and Tom Moser | April 20, 2012 | Updated: April 20, 2012 8:20pm
    We are wasting billions of dollars per year on SLS. There are cheaper and nearer term approaches for human space exploration that use existing launch vehicles. A multicenter NASA team has completed a study on how we can return humans to the surface of the moon in the next decade with existing launch vehicles and within the existing budget. This NASA plan, which NASA leadership is trying to hide, would save JSC and create thousands of jobs in Texas. [/quote]

    Since Kraft is opposed to the SLS and he says this plan uses existing launch vehicles, it can’t use the SLS or the Falcon Heavy. It must then use something similar to the ‘Early Lunar Access’ plan that uses orbital assembly, perhaps using two launches of the Delta IV Heavy.
    Like the suppressed report that suggested orbiting propellant depots could accomplish the goals of the SLS at lower cost, this report will eventually also come out. So whose got the inside scoop?

    Bob Clark