March 19, 2013

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Want To Go To the Moon?


image by Golden Spike Photostream

Do you, or your corporation or nation have $1.5 billion to send two people to the Moon, round trip? Alan Stern, CEO of the Golden Spike Company told an audience of 60 at lunch during the first day of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference how that low price is possible and who the likely customers will be. Golden Spike wants to be a transportation company, buying rockets, launch services and capsules from companies that already do these things or are developing the capabilities; Atlas rockets, Dragon capsules, United Launch Services, for example. Golden Spike seems to already have angel investors for they have paid Grumman (who built the Apollo Lunar Module) to review plans for a capsule to take two passengers to the Moon. No training as an engineer or pilot is necessary because the spacecraft will make automated landings, just as we do for Mars and the Soviets did for the Moon 40 years ago. Stern said that there are 30 medium size countries that could pay for a mission and might want to do it for the prestige of sending their citizens to the Moon. What would they do there? Stay time and activities are modeled on the Apollo H missions, specifically Apollo 12, with two moonwalks and a 50 kg science package, GOLDSEP, modeled on ALSEP, that travellers may chose to buy. Or they can take their own science instruments or whatever their needs are. Everyone associated with Golden Spike has impressive experience and has done remarkable things before. Stern is a good salesman, making it seem like this is going to happen. He said just imagine what can be learned if there were to be 20 more Apollo 12 type missions, in fact, Golden Spike is beginning to study where these missions might land. One thing that wasn’t discussed is that although science is a proposed justification for each of the countries to want to go to the Moon, in fact, many such countries have no lunar or planetary scientists who would know what to do there. Stern expects the first mission to occur about 2020 so its not too late for people to start learning about lunar and planetary science in case their country decides to buy the prestige. And if you would like to be a micro-angel supporting this effort, here is how to contribute.

Chuck Wood

Yesterday's LPOD: Please Have Your Passport Out

Tomorrow's LPOD: Fruity Mats


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