Moon to become next hot vacation destination

Golden Spike, a company full of ex-NASA people, announces ambitious plans to launch commercial spaceflights to the moon by 2020

I feel sorry for all those suckers who blew $20 million and only got a lousy trip to the International Space Station. If they had held out, they might have had an opportunity to invest many more millions on a trip to the moon.

Golden Spike Company announced yesterday a venture to launch commercial voyages to the moon by 2020. Of course, this sort of experience doesn’t come cheap. Golden Spike is expecting a trip to cost $1.5 billion per flight.

At that price, most private clients would be left out in the cold. As awesome as moon tourism sounds, Golden Spike is mainly focused

on offering its services to governments that would like a lunar lift, much like Russia helped other countries get to the space station. Still, I’m guessing Golden Spike would think twice about turning down a multi-billionaire with the dough and desire to buy a ride.

For those of us who don’t bathe in tubs full of hundred dollar bills, Golden Spike has announced its intention to make moon visits frequent and affordable. The definition of affordable is up for debate.

If you’re going to take a chance on a private moon transportation company, you could do worse than Golden Spike. The chairman of the board is Gerry Griffin, Apollo flight director and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The president and CEO is planetary scientist Alan Stern, former head of all NASA science missions. NASA resumes are all over the Golden Spike team listings.

On the front page of its site, Golden Spike says, “Private sector human expeditions to the moon are now feasible and profitable without

government funding.” That’s a bold statement. Let’s keep an eye on Golden Spike and see if it can deliver.

A rendering of a Golden Spike vehicle on the moon.

Apollo 17 moon mission

(Credit: Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Another Apple touch-screen patent in trouble

Smack that screen.One of Apple’s broad patents covering touch-screen technology is under fire by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, following a re-examination.

The USPTO ruled this week that all 20 claims included in the patent are invalid, according to a filing spotted by blog Foss Patents.

The decision, which was handed down Monday, is not final.

It’s the second such Apple patent to be deemed completely invalid following a re-examination by the USPTO. A similar decision for an Apple patent covering the company’s rubber-banding bounce effect came in late October, and is also subject to an appeal.

Of note, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is listed as the chief inventor, along with 24 others, of the touch-related technology listed in U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949. The company filed for the patent in April 2008, and was granted it just nine months later. It was one of three used against Motorola in a recent patent suit, which was tossed out of court last month. Source: CNET.COM