Over the Moon! Most Expensive Christmas Present Ever
Life + Money

Over the Moon! Most Expensive Christmas Present Ever

REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA

Can’t say this was ever on any Christmas or Hannukah wish list that we’ve come across, but who knows, stranger things have happened ... Maybe it was on someone’s list for Saturnalia way back when?

Either way, one day this new gift idea is going to put the right person – or the right pair – on cloud nine.

The Golden Spike Company, a startup that aims to “transform human space exploration” and to “monetize the exploration of the moon,” last week announced it’s going to organize manned commercial expeditions to the moon by 2020, selling seats or cargo space to wealthy individuals, nations and corporations – as long as they can cough up the dough.

Price tag for two tickets to the moon and back? Just $1.5 billion.   

The arrangement is being led by a group of former NASA officials who intend to use commercial rockets such as the Falcon Heavy Lift Vehicle, currently in development by SpaceX, the aerospace company started by entrepreneur Elon Musk, according to Technology Review

Golden Spike’s founder, Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator, estimates that the company will need to spend on the order of $7 to $8 billion to reach the moon, including the costs of designing its own lander and spacesuits. After that, the company believes it could begin offering “two-human lunar surface missions” for around $1.5 billion for each trip.

“It’s not about being first,” Stern said. “It’s about joining the club. We’re kind of cleaning up what NASA did in the 1960s. We’re going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s.”

Plenty of private space companies have been revving their engines recently – but experts believe it’s unlikely that most will actually make it to the moon. 

Still, the Golden Spike corporate and advisory team includes a number of people fiercely dedicated to commercial space travel, including Gerry Griffin, former director of the NASA Johnson Space Center; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who during his run for president earlier this year championed “a permanent lunar colony to exploit the moon’s resources”; Bill Richardson, former U.N. Ambassador and former governor of New Mexico; and Homer Hickam, a former NASA engineer and author and screenwriter (Rocket Boys, October Sky, and Back to the Moon).