Golden Spike

It’s a half hour until the press conference. They’ve put up this promotional video:

Here‘s the Twitter feed.

[Update a few minutes before the conference is due to begin]

Charlie Martin has a scoop interview with Alan Stern.

[Update at 2 PM EST]

Adam Mann has more over at Wired.

[Via Brian Doherty]

[Update a couple minutes later]

Joel Achenbach has the story at the WaPo as well.

[Update a few minutes in]

Jeff Foust is tweeting from the press conference. So is Alan Boyle.

[Update a while later]

Looks like the company web site has finally gone live.

[Update a while later]

OK, party seems to be over, with a lot of questions remaining. Impressive board, technical architecture described, potential customer interest, but they need to raise billions of dollars.

I personally know almost everyone on the board, FWIW.

10 thoughts on “Golden Spike

  1. Thomas Matula

    Problems?

    First, ITAR. BTW did they get permission to enter into discussions with to those “space agencies”?

    Second, countries who go to the Moon do so for the geopolitical points they get from bragging about their technical prowess, not for pay a taxi service. That is why India is developing its own manned space capsule. Those that do go into space with nations like the U.S. or Russia also do so for geopolitical reasons, to show the strength of their relationship with such strong nations as a message to their opponents.

    Third, if a technical team was all that was needed a nation or corporation that wanted to go to the Moon would have simply contracted with an existing aerospace major. Any of the majors has the ability to run a project to place a human on the Moon as long as someone is willing to pay them the money to do so. And if NASA is not involved the cost is about an order of magnitude lower for a number of reasons. So if you have the money, cash up front, the technical team will follow.

    Really, exacting what are they doing differently than Lunacorp offered to do with rovers 20 years ago and failed to find any customers for?

    The problem for commercial lunar actives is not and has not been the technology, it is finding the paying customers in sufficient numbers to justify the venture.

    I am not impressed with technical studies or papers on mission architecture, those are a dime a dozen in the literature. I would prefer to see market analysis and quality market research. $20-30 billion potential? Based on what market assumptions? Documentation? Are their really 15 to 20 customers out there, real customers with money in their hands knocking on the door? Or just projections of what size market is required to break even?

    This just sounds like a backdoor pitch for a Lunar COTS. I wonder how long before they are knocking on NASA’s door begging for one.

    1. McGehee

      Second, countries who go to the Moon do so for the geopolitical points they get from bragging about their technical prowess

      Right. Because there’s such a huge sample size to conclude from.

      1. Thomas Matula

        McGehee,

        That should be

        “countries who WOULD go to the Moon WILL do so for the geopolitical points they get from bragging about their technical prowess

    2. George Turner

      The problem is finding someone rich enough to fund a mission to the moon who is also willing to risk his life on board the first new lander, which is pretty much a non-starter. However, there are billionaires who’d be willing to send their mother-in-law or ex-wife to the moon. That’s the market.

  2. Brock

    Well, Bigelow has supposedly lined up sovereign customers for its stations. Maybe some of the same folks would like to go to the Moon.

    Seems like a Hail Mary business plan though, trying to build a whole Lunar architecture all at once.

    1. Thomas Matula

      Yes, but the big problem Bigelow Aerospace has is finding someone to transport them to the stations. Hmmm, that might be a problem here as well…

      But the key is that the cost is an order of magnitude less going to a habitat than going to the Moon. And there are practical things they may be able to do at the habitats in terms of Earth observation to justify it. Whereas the Moon will be pure geopolitics.

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