Golden Spike: Routine Trips to the Moon at Inconceivably Low Prices

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 (Golden Spike PR) — On the eve of the 40 th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last human exploration of the Moon, Former Apollo Flight Director and NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Gerry Griffin, and planetary scientist and former NASA science chief, Dr. Alan Stern, will unveil “The Golden Spike Company” – the first company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.
The executives will describe its team of leading aerospace engineers and world-class scientists, the mission architecture, and the business model at a media conference at the National Press Club, Bloomberg Room, from 2-3pm on December 6.
The Golden Spike Company is a US-based commercial space company incorporated in 2010. It is named after the ceremonial final spike that joined the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States, on May 10, 1869, and opened up the frontier to new opportunities.Similarly, Golden Spike intends to break new ground and create an enduring link to the next frontier, providing regular and reliable expeditions to the Moon at prices that are a fraction of any lunar program ever conceived of before.

  • John Griffith

    But what, exactly, is planned BEYOND lunar expeditions? Going to the moon alone isn’t a sustainable business model. Space tourism is out of the question, as no rational person has four billion dollars to spend on a lunar vacation. The only viable way of creating a profitable enterprise based on lunar exploration is mining (or ULTRA-ultra-ultra cheap tourism). Since the capability to efficiently mine resources on the moon is at least a decade away, Golden Spike should probably be developing a long-term plan now. Any information on that?

  • Duncan Sparks

    According to this post Cynthia Conrad was at a Golden Spike investors meeting. She currently works at Southwest Research Institute. On another blog (I lost the link) I read that Golden Spike also had meetings at SWRI offices. Clearly this company has the backing of SWRI. I guess this is part of what will be revealed tomorrow.

  • John, where does your ‘four billion’ figure come from?

    For individual Lunar flights, that’s steep even for government customers…

  • John Griffith

    Some of the early rumors reported a per-mission price tag of around $2 billion, and factoring in possible cost overruns, I’d say $4 billion or so is the upper limit.

  • Not only low cost but lower than ever conceived before? Definitely got my interest.

    I don’t think that they are conceiving mining lunar ice for propellant within that time frame. So, the cheapest way that I could imagine would be a Falcon Heavy and an in-space reusable orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) between LEO & LLO with aerobraking on the way back. People leave the OTV in two-person Langley Landers for down and up. Price tag could be as low as $2 million per passenger. My, isn’t it fun to speculate?

  • They’ve got to be coming out with an incredible video don’t you think. I think it could be like a simplified version of SpaceDev’s video.

    One concern I might have is if they are really trying to go minimalist, then NASA might conclude that private companies can handle the Moon and so they don’t need to do anything themselves to develop its resources. To develop lunar ice for propellant to open up the solar system, larger landers and surface equipment is needed. $$$.

  • warshawski

    DougSpace, NASA has the vision for all this stuff it just lacks the funding. More correctly I should say that its funding is mandated by congress to spend $3billion per year on SLS/Orion and is not allowed to spend on other usefull tasks such as fuel depots, landers or habitats. NASA has projects for all these tasks but the funding is so small that little progress can be made.
    If Congress let NASA spend as it wished the Comercial crew option of CTOS would have been fully funded and we would have SpaceX Dragon doing its initial crewed flights by now.
    Private industry will spend money to develop space projects but they need a foundation customer. COTS let NASA be the foundation customer for SpaceX and look at its order book now, for 2013 it has more comercial launches than government launches.

  • Warshawski, you are of course correct. However, the silver lining I would like to suggest is that, one day, Commercial Crew Development will be winding down. Hopefully this would free up some of NASA’s budget for the commercial development of a cis-lunar transportation system. Or…The Falcon Heavy could launch and people would start looking at the SLS crosseyed.

  • Paul451

    SLS is indeed crap, but NASA has bigger problems with delivering projects than SLS. It is not a lack of funding, it is not a lack of “Vision”, as everyone is obsessed with, it’s a lack of management and the same-same way of doing things. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” is the definition of the US space program.

  • RobH

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Steve

    Is this presentation being broadcast over the internet? If so, please provide the link. Would be fun to watch.

  • Steve, I don’t think it’s being broadcast. Over at NASASpaceflight Chris Bergin was saying there’s just a call-in line for media that’s only meant for 50 people or so. Guess we’ll just have to wait!

  • Robert Clark

    Doug, it certainly can be done at low cost using the ‘Early Lunar Access’ achitecture:

    Early Lunar Access – Encyclopedia Astronautica.

    Perhaps only in the few hundred million dollar range.

    Bob Clark