A U.S. company founded by ex-NASA executives says it plans to offer commercial flights to the moon by the end of the decade.
The company, named Golden Spike, estimates it will cost $1.5 billion to send two people to the moon and back for up to two days.
It plans to sell the flights to “nations, individuals, and corporations with lunar exploration objectives and ambitions,” at a cost it says is a fraction of similar government-run lunar programs.
Golden Spike said it would reduce costs by using existing rockets and capsules for the launches, needing only to design new space suits and a lunar lander. It is also considering other revenue sources, such as advertising on space vehicles.
The announcement came just before Friday’s 40-year anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Apollo 17, the last mission that put humans on the moon.
President Barack Obama cancelled NASA’s planned return to the moon and oversaw the retirement of the last of the agency’s space shuttles as part of a policy meant to help encourage commercial space endeavors in the coming decades.
Some say the plan appears to be working, with private companies having already enjoyed recent success launching rockets into orbit or sending flights to the International Space Station.