Dr. S. Alan Stern has made an announcement fit for a Robert Heinlein novel. Described as a “game-changing announcement about the future of commercial human space travel to the Moon,” his Golden Spike Company today went public with its plans.
In an exclusive interview with PJ Media this morning, Dr. Stern discussed the company and its founding:
When [NASA's] Constellation [project] was canceled, I wanted to look at the private sector. We talked to a number of private experts; about 20 accepted, and over a period of four months, we put together proposals. This culminated in a meeting in Telluride, Colorado, where we concluded it really was possible to make Moon travel commercial.
Stern describes Golden Spike’s approach as “maximally pragmatic”:
The lunar architecture is based on existing technology, things that are already built and flying, or technology that is coming in a very few years.
Golden Spike is intended to be a commercial, profit-making company:
Our business line is simple: selling lunar expeditions to any country. In the ’80s and ’90s, the Soviets were selling countries trips to the Mir space station. Japan, Austria. … France bought six trips! We think that trips to the Moon will be at least as popular. $1.5 billion for two people to the surface of the Moon — countries already spend that much on robot exploration.
Like any startup, one issue they have to consider is funding; much of the funding rumors surrounding the company over the past month are simply false:
We don’t have any billionaires; Warren Buffett and Sir Richard aren’t investors, and we haven’t sold any tickets. Some people have suggested that because of this, we’re “all hat and no cattle.” We look at it the other way. Our distinguishing characteristic is we are building a technical team that can actually do it. We have a solid architecture, we have a solid business model, we have a solid team.
Selling tickets isn’t the only revenue source they have in mind:
When we stage an expedition, we will monetize the entertainment aspects — sell air time, sell naming rights. We expect this to be about 20 percent of our overall revenue.
This revenue will be shared 50/50 with their customers. He continued:
Our board includes media people as well as technical people, like Michael Bostick, CEO of Walden Media which produced the Narnia franchise — his father was a NASA flight controller.
Why did they decide to go public with this announcement?
We got tired of keeping this secret. And the last expedition to the Moon, Apollo 17, launched 40 years ago today.
Why the name?
Golden Spike is named, of course, for the Golden Spike that joined the first transcontinental railroad. You can see that in our new logo. We want to be the Golden Spike that puts us back on the way to the Moon.