Space tourism on horizon for $1.5bn

Former NASA executives behind programme which aims to sell manned flights to the moon by the end of the decade.

    Golden Spike claims the $1.5bn price tag matches government-funded programmes to send robots into space [Reuters]
    Golden Spike claims the $1.5bn price tag matches government-funded programmes to send robots into space [Reuters]

    A duo of former top NASA officials have unveiled plans to offer manned lunar flights by the end of the decade.

    The announcement on Thursday came 40 years after the last man touched down on the moon.

    The two entrepreneurs behind the Golden Spike Company are Gerry Griffin, a former Apollo flight director who directed NASA's Johnson Space Center, and Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and former NASA science chief.

    It counts high-profile politicians among its advisers, including former speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and a top official under President Bill Clinton.

    The Golden Spike Company derives its name from a reference to the spike that completed the first railway to traverse the US.

    Its aim is to participate in the new wave of private spaceflight, and open new frontiers by getting humans back into outer space.

    In 2011 the US space agency retired its space shuttles in an effort to scale back on costs.

    NASA has also commissioned Russian craft to get people and supplies to the International Space Station. More recently, transportation was on spacecraft built and operated by SpaceX which carries just cargo.

    With manned flights being put on hold due to ever shrinking budgets, the US space agency is relying on robots to do its exploring of the rest of the solar system.

    Space flight, is thus on course to being opened to commercialization, with private companies premiering the launch of rockets into orbit.

    With a price tag of $1.5bn for a round-trip expedition to the moon, the Golden Spike Company said it will reduce costs by "capitalising on available rockets and emerging commercial-crew spacecraft".

    The company aims to sell flights "to nations, individuals and corporations with lunar exploration objectives and ambitions," it said, adding that the estimated prices "are a fraction of any lunar program ever conceived".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Why some African Americans are moving to Africa

    Escaping systemic racism: Why I quit New York for Accra

    African-Americans are returning to the lands of their ancestors as life becomes precarious and dangerous in the USA.

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    No country in the world recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    North Korea's nuclear weapons: Here is what we know

    North Korea's nuclear weapons