The first private company to ever receive government permission to leave Earth’s orbit has finally raised the necessary funding needed to make its dream of a moon landing a reality.
Moon Express has announced that it will be launching its first lunar mission sometime later in 2017 after the United States government passed a historic ruling stating that Moon Express would be allowed peaceful, commercial exploration of the moon pending consultation with the White House, the State Department, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Should Moon Express be successful in their endeavor, they would win the $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE being offered by Google to any privately funded team or organization that can do three things: successfully land a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, travel across 500 meters of the surface, and then transmit back to Earth high-definition video and photographs. And, it all has to be done before the end of this year.
"Moon Express now has all the capital it needs to land its small robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon in November or December of 2017,” says Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express.
The ultimate goal of the company is much broader than to simply win Google’s space race competition, however. First, they are seeking to harvest all of the natural resources provided by the moon, particularly the element Helium-3, metals like gold and platinum, and other rare earth metals as well as water. Second, they want to help researchers and scientists develop colonization methods for future generations of humans.
The idea of harvesting Helium-3 alone is something to be excited about. The non-radioactive, clean source of energy is so powerful that even a small amount has the ability to provide enough clean energy needed to fuel entire industries here on Earth. A notion that even has the Chinese government interested.
The other potentially huge impact of Moon Express’ new goal is the idea of using the Moon as somewhat of a fueling station for spacecrafts planning deep-space missions. To do this, water on the Moon’s surface can be separated into Hydrogen and oxygen to create the rocket fuel needed.
Not to mention, China and Russia are also planning to explore the moon sometime in 2018.
While it might seem like the main objective of Moon Express is to harvest all of what the Moon has to offer, Naveen says that “he and his partners are just a group of entrepreneurs trying to move humanity forward. We want to leave a legacy for future generations.”
What do you think about private companies being allowed to explore the moon for its resources? Is it a good idea or should we be weary of such practices?