It may not take long before ordinary people would get the chance to spend their holiday on the moon. In an interview with CNBC published on Thursday, Dec. 1, Moon Express founder Naveen Jain said that he believes commercial lunar travel could be possible in just a decade.
Moon Express is the first non-government entity that secured approval from the U.S. government to land on the moon. The company is also planning to send a robotic rover to the lunar surface in 2017 to conduct a survey for the best spots to mine iron ore, metals, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, rare Earth minerals and helium-3.
The space exploration company was born out of the Google Lunar XPrize, an international competition that offers $30 million to a private company that can soft land on the surface of the moon.
$10,000 Ticket To The Moon
Going to space as a tourist does not come cheap. Virgin Galactic, which aims to send tourists to space, charges $250,000 per seat, an amount that can only be afforded by the rich and famous.
More competitive pricing in the space tourism industry, however, could bolster the number of people who would include space travel in their bucket list. Jain said that moon travel is getting cheap and may eventually cost only thousands of dollars per mission.
"In a mission that initially cost us to go to the moon about $25 billion, our mission to the moon next year is going to be $7 million, and the year after it's going to go down to millions," Jain said. "In the next ten years, the cost of going to the moon is going to be $10,000."
Shorter Travel Time
Travel time to the moon may also get eventually shorter. Jain said that getting to the moon would be possible in four hours, which is faster compared with travel time needed to go from New York to London.
Holiday Beyond Earth
With a more affordable price for a commercial trip to the moon, Jain said that Earth's natural satellite could eventually become the target destination of romantic couples.
Jain also said that he is willing to work with SpaceX's Elon Musk, who has a more ambitious plan: to bring people to planet Mars. Musk, however, acknowledged that the goal to bring people to the Red Planet comes with obstacles. During his speech at the International Astronautical Congress earlier this year, he said that the first journey to planet Mars would be dangerous and could be potentially fatal.
Significant temperature differences and high radiation are just among the same challenges that are involved in sending people to the moon and Mars.