Moon Express Is All Set To Win The Google Lunar XPrize And Then Some
The Google Lunar XPrize is an international race to the Moon, in which American team Moon Express is one of the top contenders. The competition expires on Dec. 31, 2017, before which team manages to land a robotic rover on the surface of the Moon and send back images from there will win the $20 million grand prize.
The only condition of the competition is that the whole process should be privately funded. Moon Express has managed to raise $45 million from various privately owned companies including the software company Autodesk, along with Founders Fund and Collaborative Fund resources. The last fundraising round alone helped in raising $20 million for the mission, Popular Mechanics reported.
Pulse Headlines reported, on the other hand, that the MX-1E lander developed by the team will be sent into Earth's orbit using the Electron rocket, a brand-new never-before-tested space vehicle, which was manufactured by the Rocket Lab Aerospace company, from where it will be propelled onto the lunar surface.
A Multipurpose Moon Mission
Moon Express will carry experimental payloads from NASA, International Lunar Observatory and the University of Maryland. According to the latest news report published by The Verge, the company is trying to launch mining expeditions on the Moon. It is to mine and transport extremely rare elements viz. niobium, dysprosium and yttrium, which are present on the surface of the Moon.
Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express, told that, "We now have all the resources in place to shoot for the Moon." He also added that, "Our goal is to expand Earth's social and economic sphere of the Moon, our largely unexplored eighth continent, and enable a new era of low-cost lunar exploration and development of students, scientists, space agencies and commercial interests."
Moon Express has already obtained the approval of the American government authorities to explore the lunar resources under the SPACE Act, which was signed in 2015 by then President Barack Obama.
However, the Moon is not under the direct administration of the United States of America. The United Nations' Outer Space Treaty, which was approved in 1967, states that the exploration and utilization of space resources can be done only if it benefits all the countries, rather than a singular nation.
In such circumstances, it will be interesting to watch the possible turn of events in the near future and whether Moon Express is allowed or denied access to lunar resources.