Moon Express Plans a Lunar Presence by 2015

moon, mission, mining, space, commercialization, rocket, launch, NASA, google, moon express, platinum, heliumMoon Express, a private company aimed at bringing private industry to the moon, says it will land its MX-1 craft on the lunar surface in 2015.

While the Apollo and Chang’e lunar programs were founded on the bedrock of exploration and geo-political gamesmanship, Moon Express’ project origin is more straightforward.

According to the company’s founder, Naveen Jain, “The moon is nothing more than another continent from our perspective. Just like any other continent we want [to] use that continent and the resources from there to make life better for all of us here.”

Among the resources that Moon Express is looking to find are platinum, various rare earth metals and helium-3, an isotope that’s rare on earth, abundant on the moon and sought after by fusion researchers.

To collect their off-world bounty, engineers at Moon Express have unveiled their hydrogen peroxide fueled MX-1.  Packed into a frame that would easily fit in a pickup truck, the MX-1 weighs approximately 600kg (1320lbs). While that might seem light for a spacecraft, it’s mostly due to the fact that the Moon Express’ first lunar lander won’t be much more than a technology demonstrator. 

Although its first flight won’t carry with it any special payload, Moon Express is adamant the MX-1 could easily become a space industry workhorse taking on roles as a space tug, exploring deep space, and (of course) acting as a stage for lunar mining operations.

If Moon Express can meet their lofty goals, the company could usher in a new era where extra-planetary industry is commonplace. Along the way, the company might also pick up Google’s $30M Lunar X Prize – though that would be a pittance for a company that believes the planet’s first trillionaires will come from space.

Image Courtesy of Moon Express