Human space exploration: why Godot isn’t coming, but Golden Spike is
by S. Alan Stern and Homer Hickam
|Back in the heady days of Apollo’s Moon race, the hard part was the technologies that had to be invented to make it all possible. Today, those technologies are well in hand.|
Why? The reasons are many, but after observing a long series of false starts and dashed attempts, we’ve concluded that relying on the 1950s and 1960s model of space exploration led primarily by central governments, is a little like Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. In that story line, two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, endlessly wait in vain for the arrival of a character named Godot. Well, it’s not just in Beckett’s novel, because in space exploration the 1950s–1960s model, Godot isn’t coming either.
Fortunately, 21st century industry and entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate, creating exciting new models for how human space explorations can be launched commercially.
Just read the papers, it sounds like science fiction—companies planning suborbital space lines, private space stations, and a private expedition to fly past Mars. In the case of our company, Golden Spike, privately mounted lunar surface expeditions to be sold primarily to foreign space and science agencies, but also to US and international corporations, and wealthy individuals.
And why not? Back in the heady days of Apollo’s Moon race, the hard part was the technologies that had to be invented to make it all possible. Today, those technologies are well in hand. The hard part of today’s Moon shots and other commercial space exploration is raising the capital for large ventures.
At Golden Spike we plan to do that primarily with advance sales of our expeditions—rather like the way Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers make advance sales before launching a new airliner project. But at Golden Spike we’re also pioneering innovative ways to create capital for our early-stage business, just as NASA pioneered many innovative engineering solutions to make Apollo’s historic expeditions possible.
One of the most innovative aspects of what we will be doing is creating a worldwide fan base for space exploration—much like what exists today for professional sports. Think of this future as spaceflight covered like sports, and brought to you on your big screen TVs, laptops, tablets, and phones.
And we plan to leverage that fan base to create sales of airtime, merchandizing rights, naming rights, and other media and related products that have an estimated market value of billions of dollars.
|But hope isn’t a business strategy. Raising awareness and servicing a market is.|
At Golden Spike, we believe that the falling fortunes of America’s space program are directly related to the lack of public excitement and involvement, and that there is a market for exciting explorations that engage the same millions of people who’ve made billion-dollar blockbusters like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Avatar so popular.
To begin to test that market, we’ve created a crowdfunding effort on the Indiegogo platform. Will it work? We don’t know. Will it take a few iterations to perfect? Probably. Will we quit if at first it doesn't succeed? No. But hope isn’t a business strategy. Raising awareness and servicing a market is.
Would you like to see more exciting and engaging human space expeditions? Would you like to see role models for young people in the form of brave and talented space explorers from around the world? Would you like to see American industry leading other nations to explore the Moon? If so, join us—and you can start by supporting us on Indiegogo.
Let’s rekindle that sense of public engagement as we renew the exploration of far away places by brave and talented people dedicated to the future.
Join us. This is where Star Trek truly begins.