ISDC Scoop: Going to Moon Soon
I was sitting in the front row of an ISDC session, and who should sit down next to me but BUZZ ALDRIN! He was not looking for me, but stood to ask a question of the panel while plugging his Sci Fi novel. It makes these guys seem human to see that they are just like many of us, promoting a book. It would almost be an honour being stepped on by someone who stepped on the Moon.
No human has gone beyond low Earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972. Sometime around 2018 NASA plans to send an Orion around the Moon, a flight similiar to Apollo 8. Someone else will beat them to it by years. Russia's Energia Corporation has been offering two seats around the Moon on a 3-person Soyuz for the bargain price of 100 million US per ticket. Energia will use the loot to finance a next-generation spacecraft called Klipr.
Space Adventures is a company that arranges everything from zero-G flights to private ISS trips. At ISDC, Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson let out that he is negotiating with 2 billionaires for the lunar flight. Since Forbes estimates 946 billionaires on Earth, it is a big market. The most likely candidate is UK resident ROMAN ABRAMOVITCH, owner of the Chelsea football team.
It should be a big kick in the rear for NASA if somebody rounds the Moon on a Russian spacecraft. Currently NASA has funding problems that are slowing down their Moon plans. Many doubt that the Vision will survive a new president. John F. Kennedy's vision survived two presidents to reach the Moon. If the US does not meet this challenge, they will no longer be the leading nation. For now, I have been fortunate to see the far side of Aldrin's head.