Fly to Mars. For $1.5 Billion

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Ben Cohen
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English: NASA artist's conception of a human m...

English: NASA artist's conception of a human mission to Mars (1989 painting by Les Bossinas of NASA Lewis Research Center). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I'm not sure the market is particularly big for this, but if I had a spare $1.5 billion, I'd definitely be up for this:

A team of former Nasa executives is launching a private venture to send people to the moon.

For $1.5bn (£940m), the newly formed Golden Spike is offering countries a two-person trip either for research or national prestige.

Nasa's last trip to the moon was 40 years ago, and since the space race ended there has been only sporadic interest in another visit. Barack Obama cancelled Nasa's planned return, saying America had already been there.

But Golden Spike's president, Alan Stern, said the firm had talked to other countries that had shown interest in going. He said he was looking at countries such as South Africa, South Korea and Japan.

"It's not about being first. It's about joining the club," said Stern, a former Nasa associate administrator. "We're kind of cleaning up what Nasa did in the 1960s. We're going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s."

Stern said he was aiming for a first launch before the end of the decade, and then up to 15 or 20 launches in total.

Dozens of private space companies have started up recently. The Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks launches worldwide, said few if any would make it.

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