WASHINGTON — The idea sounds so preposterous that even its backers admit it seems lifted from the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel.
But the architects of a new aerospace company say they plan to do what kids have dreamed about since the Apollo age: create a business that can blast tourists to the moon — maybe by the end of the decade. “This sounds like science fiction. We intend to make it science fact,” said Alan Stern, a former NASA science director who is now leading the company behind the moonshot effort, dubbed Golden Spike.
Stern and a team of aerospace insiders, including former Apollo Flight Director Gerry Griffin, unveiled their vision Thursday during a media conference at the National Press Club. The overarching idea is to use rockets and capsules already built — or under development — to blast two astronauts to the moon for the (relatively) low cost of about $1.5 billion, roughly $750 million a seat.
Stern said the company’s intent is not to attract eccentric billionaire tourists — though they would be welcome — but instead sell seats to other countries’ space agencies looking to see their astronauts’ boot prints on the lunar surface.