Local firm inks pact to design lunar lander

BOULDER – The Golden Spike Co., a private venture that wants to offer commercial expeditions to the moon by the end of the decade, will pair with Northrop Grumman Corp. to design its lunar lander.

Golden Spike, which is based in Boulder and was founded in 2010, announced Thursday that it had entered into a contract with Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), a Falls Church, Virginia-based aerospace company.

Golden Spike’s strategy for getting to the moon relies on existing rocket technology and work being done by other companies to develop spacecraft for the crew. The lander is the only vehicle Golden Spike needs to design, according to the release.

Northrop Grumman will develop reliability, operability and affordability standards and consider concept proposals, the release said.

“This is a significant step forward in our plans,´ said Golden Spike board chairman, Gerry Griffin. “Northrop Grumman brings Golden Spike a unique body of knowledge and skills as the only company to ever build a successful human-rated lunar lander, the Apollo Lunar Module.”

Northrop Grumman has a history of building spacecraft for lunar expeditions, according to the release. Grumman and TRW, two of the companies that were acquired to form Northrop Grumman, designed and built the lunar module and lunar module descent engines for the Apollo program.

Golden Spike launched publicly last month and announced it will provide trips to the moon for nations, individuals and corporations. Golden Spike estimates it will be able to launch its first mission for between $7 billion and $8 billion, which also would finance the company’s startup costs and investments.

Golden Spike said subsequent missions will cost about $1.4 billion. For a comparison, the entire Apollo program cost about $110 billion to send missions to the moon.

The company’s forecast believes there is sufficient demand for 20 to 30 lunar missions by 2030.

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