Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 14 October 2015

We'll fly you to the moon says firm

Published 07/12/2012

Nasa's last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago
Nasa's last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago

Attention wealthy nations and billionaires - a team of former Nasa executives will fly you to the moon in an out-of-this-world commercial venture combining the wizardry of Apollo and the marketing of Apple.

For a mere 1.5 billion dollars (£937,000 million), the business is offering countries the chance to send two people to the moon and back, either for research or national prestige.

And if you are an individual with that kind of money to spare, you too can go the moon for a couple of days.

Some space experts though, are sceptical of the firm's financial ability to get to the moon.

Dozens of private space companies have started up recently, but few, if any, will make it - just like in other fields - said Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks launches worldwide. "This is unlikely to be the one that will pan out," he said.

Nasa's last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago. The United States is the only country that has landed people there, beating the Soviet Union in a space race to the moon that transfixed the world. But once the race ended, there has been only sporadic interest in the moon.

President Barack Obama cancelled Nasa's planned return to the moon, saying America had already been there. On Wednesday, a National Academy of Sciences said the nation's space agency had no clear goal or direction for future human exploration.

But the ex-Nasa officials behind the venture, called Golden Spike, do.

The firm has talked to other countries, which are showing interest, said former Nasa associate administrator Alan Stern, Golden Spike's president. Mr Stern said he was looking at countries like South Africa, South Korea, and Japan. One very rich individual - he would not give a name - had also been talking to the company, but its main market was foreign nations, he said.

"It's not about being first. It's about joining the club," Mr Stern said. "We're kind of cleaning up what Nasa did in the 1960s. We're going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s."

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