NASA has been talking about visiting the moon again several times over the past 40+ years and while they will have a hand in the next lunar landing, it is an organization called Moon Express that will be footing the majority of the science and financial bill on the next go-around.
In recent news, Moon Express recently signed a deal with Rocket Lab, a Los Angeles-based robotic lunar craft manufacturer for 3 crafts, as well as launches, beginning in 2017. The main mission for the lunar landings will be to beginning mining the moon.
Unbeknownst to many, the moon contains various natural resources which can be utilized here on earth. Helium-3 is quite prevalent below the moon’s surface, which can be used to fuel nuclear fusion reactors without releasing radioactive waste. Also available on the moon is cobalt, iron, platinum, palladium, tungsten and gold.
Moon Express has earned itself quite a good reputation in regard to space science, having won $500 000 from NASA’s Lunar Data Program, as well as $1.25 million from Google during their Lunar XPrize competition. Google has also promised a $30 million prize to the first company who successfully lands a commercial craft on the lunar surface. It must send back HD images and videos back to Earth to earn it, however.
Moon Express has two options
Moon Express has two options for it’s first launch in 2017. Either from their recently attained Space Launch Complex in Cape Canaveral or from Rocket Lab’s site in New Zealand. At this time, their plan is to attach their MX-1 lander with a satellite, which will then take the craft into a low orbit of earth. From that vantage point, the MX-1, fueled with hydrogen peroxide, will travel to the moon’s surface.
If all goes well this could be quite a milestone for mankind. Will all the talk about plans to begin mining on Mars the lunar mining mission could be the first step toward achieving that. From Mars, who knows where human beings will be mining next.