1. ITV Report

Company plans 'affordable' Moon mission for £1 billion

The Moon Photo: Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

A Colorado business run by former NASA managers is planning to carry out journeys to the moon for approximately $1.5 billion (£930 million) per expedition.

The expeditions would use existing rockets and spacecraft that are currently under development to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

An investment of up to $8 billion (£5 billion) would be required for the first mission, said Golden Spike President Alan Stern, NASA's former associate administrator for science.

"This is a game-changer," Stern said. "We can fly human lunar missions for the cost of a robotic mission."

"If we only sell three or four expeditions, it's completely upside down. We need to sell a bunch. But we do not need to sell ridiculous numbers," he said.

The company said it could be ready to fly its first mission by 2020 depending on how much interest there is from potential customers.

Market research shows 15 to 25 nations can afford lunar exploration and may want to do so, he added.

Potential customers include civilian space agencies, corporations, research institutes and some individuals.