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  [Discuss] Golden Spike commercial moon missions

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] Golden Spike commercial moon missions
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-06-2012 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic Golden Spike commercial human lunar exploration focused on status updates, feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss the Golden Spike Company and its plans to be the first to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon.

p51
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Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-06-2012 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being former military and having gone on a couple of rescue missions (stateside for civilians), I immediately wonder what kind of waiver that passengers would have to sign. I bet there will be more paper than on my last mortgage!

And imagine what happens if a private launch like this goes bad and the families go screaming to the media that NASA somehow should have had a rescue plan in place already. People already blame the government when their loved ones get stuck climbing a mountain and get caught in bad weather that Army or Air Force helicopters can't fly into to get them out...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-06-2012 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
California, I believe, has recently become the first state to pass indemnification laws for commercial spaceflight operators, and I believe other states may follow suit.

On edit: Jeff Foust of The Space Review, who was at today's press conference, noted on Twitter:

Golden Spike is headquartered in Colorado, which does have such liability indemnification for commercial spaceflight.
The FAA already licenses commercial spacecraft where the only liability concern is protecting uninvolved third parties (i.e. not having the rocket fly off course).

Of course, were an Apollo 13 (or worse) situation to develop, I am sure there would be an international response to try to stage some type of rescue, as consistent with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-06-2012 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Of course, were an Apollo 13 (or worse) situation to develop, I am sure there would be an international response to try to stage some type of rescue, as consistent with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
My first reaction is there has to BE a possible response from a spacefaring nation to such an emergency (it's not like someone can yank one of the 'spare' Saturn V's out of their museum buildings and thrown onto a pad right away), but upon reflection I'm now thinking that maybe this is the kick in the pants that NASA would need to develop a real vehicle to get back to the Moon. It'd be an easier sell maybe for NASA leaders to go to the hill for more money by saying, "Okay Senator, what do we do if someone breaks down on the surface with this private craft right now? We'd have no way to go up to provide any assistance outside of low earth orbit..."

I also wonder how NASA would view that in regard to taking resources away from their own plans to have a contingency for a rescue mission if needed.

bcrussell
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Posts: 69
From: Madison, AL. USA
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 12-06-2012 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bcrussell   Click Here to Email bcrussell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish them well. I'm all for anybody that actually tries to do something in space!

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-06-2012 11:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
...upon reflection I'm now thinking that maybe this is the kick in the pants that NASA would need to develop a real vehicle to get back to the Moon.
I don't buy it, no pun intended. Why should the government spend a few billion dollars all to rescue a private company's craft? In my opinion, using that argument is no more or less likely to loosen the purse strings to get Altair back.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-07-2012 01:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You've never strapped into a Chinook into hurricane force winds to try to rescue one guy off a mountain after he was told not to go up there, risking almost ten people and a multi-million-dollar helicopter. I have. I can easily see the government doing exactly that because if something goes wrong on the surface and there ISN'T any way to get back several very rich people, heads will roll come election time.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-07-2012 02:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I haven't. But I daresay there's a magnitude of difference between getting somebody off a mountain and getting somebody off a surface that happens to be 240,000 miles away.

While this topic is about the moon, let's consider Mars One. Suppose Lansdorp has the means and sends 10 people to Mars. Should the US develop a craft that can rescue them once Lansdorp starts cutting metal? Does the US have the resources - time, people and money - to devote to a lunar or Martian rescue, resources which would be diverted from other space missions?

While extreme, the US can divert an aircraft carrier to assist in a rescue because it can pull another carrier to that area (or at least, other navy vessels.) As you pointed out, it's not like someone can yank a spare Saturn V and set it up on the launch pad.

Or for a hypothetical: a US space tourist vehicle is stranded in LEO. The US' shuttle fleet is grounded for whatever reason. Will the US launch a shuttle to rescue that space tourist vehicle at a time when its not launching its own astronauts?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-07-2012 02:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wouldn't it be more plausible that any government support to a rescue would come in the form of financial and logistical support to Golden Spike Co. to launch its own rescue mission?

But really, this is all putting the cart before the horse — Golden Spike doesn't need to worry about rescue missions right now; its primary concern will be finding the clients and funding for a first mission...

(It should also be noted that while "rich people" might be one market for this, the company seems to be focusing more on other nations. Just as Malaysia and South Korea paid Russia to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station, so here could it be possible for Saudi Arabia or Brazil to pay to plant their flag on the moon for less than China is investing to develop a lunar landing program from the ground up [and, if Golden Spike's schedule is achievable, in less time].)

Prospero
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From: Manchester, UK
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 12-07-2012 04:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Prospero     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was a little bit about Golden Spike on the BBC news this morning. In their usual sloppy way, the BBC implied that the venture was aimed at potential space tourists, but having read the announcement now it looks like the primary market they're looking at is organisations. I've no idea if this is going to turn out to be a viable business yet, but good luck to them. 40 years I've been waiting for the next manned moon mission, it's starting to test my patience!

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 01-03-2013 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
My first reaction is there has to BE a possible response from a spacefaring nation to such an emergency...

I'm all for expensive missions to rescue tourists that put others' lives at risk. But not when it's done on the back of the taxpayer. When a helicopter crew gets dispatched to extract the tourist form the mountain top, then send him or her the bill.

Likewise, let the tour company bear the burden or lay the worst case risk at the foot of the tourist. That's just a part of free enterprise. The tourist shouldn't automatically expect that someone else will jump and pull their fat out of the fire when things don't go the way they hoped.

Two words: Personal responsibility!

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 01-03-2013 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
I'm all for expensive missions to rescue tourists that put others' lives at risk. But not when it's done on the back of the taxpayer. When a helicopter crew gets dispatched to extract the tourist form the mountain top, then send him or her the bill.
Actually, most of the time they DON'T send the bill to the rescuee when the military is called to go risk life and limb.

Don't get me wrong, it's the job of those Army/Air Force/Navy/Marine crews to go get them when ordered, and no 'oh woe is us' for them (I volunteered to go that one time, it really wasn't my specific military role to go anyway), I'm just using it as a relevant example, that's all. I doubt many people think of that when a climber gets lost somewhere, because the family of said climber ALWAYS expects the government to come to their aid. Always.

Anyone who couldn't see the same happening if some space tourists got trapped on the moon's surface are living in serious denial...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-13-2013 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Golden Spike — a private company led by former NASA executives offering human expeditions to the Moon for nations, corporations, and individuals — today kicked off a 10-week Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $240,000 — representing each mile on the way to the Moon.
So, what do others think? Will you be giving to Golden Spike's Indiegogo campaign?

p51
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Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 02-13-2013 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Will you be giving to Golden Spike's Indiegogo campaign?
Nope. Not a chance. The fact that they're doing this, in my mind, strongly supports they don't have what it takes to get there at all.

Kind of tough to take them seriously with a cry for financial help like this. Anyone would expect a company saying they'll take people to the moon to have some serious capital to back it up. Otherwise, I take it about as seriously as I take the threat of a North Korean ICBM; it's something you'll almost certainly see someday, just not anytime soon because they're just not at any serious place to pull it off yet...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-14-2013 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
Kind of tough to take them seriously with a cry for financial help like this.
It could be seen like that, though it could also be a marketing choice: crowd-sourced funding is popular now and putting their services in front of that audience, while unusual for an aerospace company, could open other opportunities otherwise missed through traditional funding sources.

That said, I think their rewards for pledges are somewhat weak. They needn't be giving away moon rocks, but a flag (graphic) on a website? A chance to vote on landing locales? A website badge? I think they would get greater participation for simple tokens of gratitude: A Golden Spike decal, patch or pin would, I think, appeal to a larger audience — beyond those already sold on the concept and giving to show their support.

They have Michael Okuda as an advisor. If he was agreeable to designing a mission (or campaign) emblem, I think it would have been more effective as a reward than being added to a mailing list for $25.

All times are CT (US)

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