OK, obviously the money is the biggest question here. How do they intend to pay for all this? If its investors, what's the business case? ...Another option is publicity, free advertising, that sort of thing. ...Who loves publicity more than companies? Congress and the President.
From Chris' latest article:http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/source information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.More details ahead of the announcement are expected in the coming days and weeks
Since there is a public thread for this now.
I suppose that now we should start the guessing game of who is involved.I will start with the obvious candidates: Boeing, SpaceX, and ULA (possibly).
My personal guesses for partners for the newly-formed company (I have no insider information on this whatsoever):* ULA: They're at the forefront when it comes to depot development, and of course also have their launchers. If SpaceX is involved I suspect it won't be in a development role (I really don't see development of a lunar architecture on Musk's shortlist of priorities), but simply as a commercial launch provider.* ILC Dover: This might just be me being contrarian, but I actually believe they're a more likely pick for inflatables than Bigelow. This is going to need to be a team effort, and Bigelow isn't exactly known as a team player. While ILC Dover isn't as well-publicised as Bigelow, I was actually pretty surprised to see how much work ILC Dover's done so far on lunar habitats: http://www.ilcdover.com/Habitats-and-Shelters/* Masten as a subcontractor to ULA, based on their ongoing collaboration on the Xeus dual-thrust axis prototype, and Masten's experience with landers in general* XCOR as a subcontractor to ULA, based on their ongoing collaboration on piston-pump generators/engines* Altius as a subcontractor to ULA, based on this collaboration: http://blog.altius-space.com/2010/11/more-about-that-second-contract/
* Altius as a subcontractor to ULA, based on this collaboration: http://blog.altius-space.com/2010/11/more-about-that-second-contract/