The mysterious Golden Spike Company — which is said to be planning a privately-funded landing on the moon by 2020 — will hold a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., next Thursday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. EST.
Despite the company’s attempt to operate in stealth mode, quite a lot seems to be known about its plans.
NASASpaceflight.com, which first broke the news, 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.”
A Tumblr account run by an anonymous writer is providing additional details apparently swiped from NASASpaceflight.com’s subscription-only L-2 website. According to the information:
- Warren Buffet, Richard Branson and Guy Laliberte are reported to be among the investors.
- The company has signed a $120 million deal for a Falcon Heavy rocket
- Expeditions to be moon will cost about $2 billion apiece.
UPDATE: Parabolic Arc has learned from informed sources that Richard Branson is NOT involved in the company. Further, virtually all billionaires identified in the media as being investors are not involved. Full details will be available on Thursday.
It will be interesting to see if Branson is indeed an investor and shows up at the press conference. I’m not sure his presence would be that helpful. Branson has spent eight years on a suborbital spacecraft that has gone way over budget and has yet to make a single powered flight. He doesn’t really add credibility to a plan to land men on the moon in roughly the same amount of time.
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 located in Colorado and incorporated in Delaware.
NASASpaceflight.com has also reported that:
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.