If you cannot get hold of an Orion, Isle of Man company Excalibur Almaz Limited is reconditioning ex-Russian military space capsules for use in expeditions around the Moon. Joined to habitation modules, these spacecraft would be six times the size of Orion, making the journey much more comfortable.
So, when it comes to capsules, you have got some options.
But the same cannot be said of landers. There is nothing, in existence, like the Apollo lunar landers although concept designs have been developed. These include Nasa’s recent Altair craft, but that programme has now been abandoned. Still, you could dust off the blueprints and, with a bit of imagination, new materials and techniques, it should be possible to put something together. It is almost certainly going to be expensive and, as with any new space technology designed for astronauts, it is going to involve a lot of risks.
The right stuff
Going to the moon is not going to be fun. It is likely going to be tiring, cramped and most of all dangerous. So, even if you have the cash, you will need the “right stuff”.
Have you thought about the risks you are taking? How your family will cope if things go wrong? Have you even considered what to say when you get there? Will you come in peace for all mankind or are you just in it for personal glory?
For astronauts, the psychological aspects of being a spacefarer are every bit as important as the physical.
And then there is the training. An ability to work in a close-knit team and respond to emergencies in a calm, professional manner is vital if you want to get back alive.
Even Apollo’s only scientist-astronaut, geologist Harrison Schmitt, was a fully trained jet pilot. The other Apollo astronauts were, for the most part, super-fit flying aces and many of today’s astronauts are still from a flying background. Rookie UK astronaut Tim Peake, for instance, is a military helicopter test pilot – hardly a desk job.
If you plan to fly to the Moon before this decade is out then start training now. Even if you decide to employ professional astronauts to do most of the work, you still need to put in the hours. Apart from a rigorous fitness regime, you will have to learn how to fly the spacecraft, work in weightlessness and train for what to do when something goes wrong.
The right clothes
Once you and your hardy crew have escaped Earth’s orbit and touched down on the surface, you are going to want to step outside the capsule. And for that you need a spacesuit.
These are effectively miniature spacecraft – containing everything you need when planting flags, hitting golf balls or just taking in the views from the lunar surface. To cram all the life support, communications and computers in, spacesuits are bulky. This does not matter so much if you are on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station in zero gravity. But if you are attempting to bounce around on the Moon, you will need something that is relatively compact and light. It will also need to be strong enough to avoid getting torn on rocks or damaged by lunar dust.
Apollo spacesuits were individually tailored to each astronaut and sewn and glued together by seamstresses. They consisted of multiple layers – from a mesh of coolant pipes near the body to a tough outer protective suit of fire-proof Teflon cloth. The iconic Apollo helmets featured gold-plated visors to protect the astronauts from the Sun and the gloves were made as thin as possible to maintain flexibility.