Private company Moon Express has announced that commercial flights for the moon could cost £8,000 per ticket, equivalent to $10,180.96 as of December 5, 2017.
After obtaining the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approbation last August, Moon Express is the only company authorized by the government to leave Earth and perform moon landings. But Moon Express will not perform its travels all by itself, but will also team up with entrepreneur Elon Musk. The plan is for SpaceX to focus on the development of the rocket and Moon Express would manufacture the lunar rover, as stated by the company’s co-founder Naveen Jain.
Fly me to the moon, please?
Engineers must still solve the issues that make lunar colonization a struggle, seeing that its surface is constantly exposed to high levels of radiation due to a lack of an atmosphere, its gelid temperatures, and its vulnerability of being hit by asteroids sometime in the future.
Jain asserts that, although it may seem complicated and extravagant, a flight to the moon would not differ too much from a commercial flight between the U.S. and Australia.
On the other hand, the European Space Agency has already announced its plans for building a lunar settlement, which will allow tourists to stay on the moon for prolonged periods of time, mainly as a resort for businesspeople, scientists, and miners.
The resorts should be built on the lunar poles, seeing that they would stay illuminated by sunlight most of the time. One of the tentative locations is the Shackleton crater, on the south pole. It is also likely that the entirety of the lunar base will be built out of regolith material and 3D printing.
The first building stages are expected to start in the 2020’s while the first unmanned flight to the moon performed by Moon Express will be performed sometime in 2017. Robots will be sent first to pave the land for human astronauts and engineers to finish up the details of the first extraterrestrial living quarters that are not within a satellite.
ESA’s space exploration strategy sets the moon as a priority destination for humans on the way to Mars. The recent talk of a “Moon Village” certainly has generated a lot of positive energy regarding Europe playing a role in a global human exploration scenario. “The timing is right,” stated NASA’s Kathy Laurini.
Scientists have agreed that the moon would serve as a platform for space exploration, so the colonization of Mars is the plausible long-term goal. Supporters of lunar colonization also claim that there is a whole lot of science that could be done on the moon, mainly experiments concerning gravity and radiation, which creates incentives for aiming toward the celestial body that lies closest to the Earth.
Companies and startups have already taken the initiative to determine which part of space colonization they intend to take as theirs. SpaceX will work on sustainable space travel, ESA on lunar habitats, NASA on Mars and strictly scientific endeavors. It’s just a matter of time until people can head down to a dedicated launch pad and buy a ticket if they want to go to the moon or Mars for summer vacations.