December 9, 2012 - Startup company Golden Spike is promising commercial trips to the moon by 2020, charging $800-million a seat per round trip excursion. No word if they'll offer deals on one-way tickets.
expedition includes a surface stay time of at least 36 hours (exceeding the stay times of both Apollo
11 and Apollo 12), two moonwalks (EVAs), the use of a standard surface expedition tool kit and cameras and optional add-on packages, accommodation of up to 50 kg of lunar experiments and other customer-provided equipment (e.g., flags, plaques, etc.) to the surface, as well as the additional accommodation of up to 50 kg of lunar samples for return to Earth, together with all necessary governmental certifications. Orbital expeditions [a cheaper option at just $450 million per seat] offer a week-long stay time.
The company's leaders have not yet chosen a launch vehicle or space capsule to transport their passengers; Stern expects to make the final selections in 2014.
To keep costs low, Golden Spike will likely use existing or already-under-development rockets and spacecraft. However, the company will need to commission its own lunar lander and specially designed spacesuits. Stern called rumors that Golden Spike had already chosen SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket "not true."
The company has been in the works, and under wraps, for two and a half years, Stern said.
"I don’t think anybody's got us beat," he added. "This is state-of-the-art cool."
The missions are being targeted at countries without their own space agencies or that can't afford to launch people to the moon independently, as well as scientific organizations and even private individuals looking to take the trip of a lifetime.
"We have spoken to space agencies from both Asian and European countries and found real interest," Stern said.