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Private Company Offers $1.5 Billion Moon Shot
December 6, 2012

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A private company is offering a trip to the Moon, for $1.5 billion.

Former NASA associate administrator Alan Stern is president of the new Golden Spike Company, which plans for its first launches to take place by 2020. The first lunar trip, Stern said at a news conference on the 40th anniversary of the last lunar launch, will consist of four launches: two to get a space and lunar lander into lunar orbit, and then two more to get people to the lunar lander, for descent and eventual return to Earth.

Stern said that, given the price, he didn't expect a rush of private individuals signing up; rather, the target will be countries that haven't been to the Moon already. The Colorado-based company already has plans to talk to Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. The price might be slightly more attractive to prospective buyers if they keep in mind that the cost is for a two-person crew. A similar effort by the Russian space program in the 1980s and 1990s drew interest from the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, and Malaysia.

Stern said that the company would use existing rockets and capsules, leaving a lunar lander, space suits, and other equipment to be constructed.

Among the others associated with Golden Spike are Gerry Griffin, an Apollo-era flight director who was once in charge of the Johnson Spaceflight Center; former NASA space shuttle manager Wayne Hale; former U.N. Ambassador and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and noted space suit designer Taber MacCallum.

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