Moon Express to begin commercially harvesting lunar rocks in 2020

14 July, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Marjorie Miles
  • Cape Canaveral Company Unveils Ambitions Moon Missions

Moon Express aims to launch a number of landers to the Moon over the next few years, each with a different goal.

The MX-2 spacecraft design is double the size and capability of the MX-1. After the MX-1E, a lander near the lunar south pole would prospect for ice and other resources.

All three missions will be managed from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complexes 17 and 18, now leased by Moon Express.

The company is not satisfied with just landing on the moon They plan on staying longer and mining resources on the surface.

That debut Lunar Scout mission will carry a small telescope and a laser array to the moon's surface.

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The also has plans for larger MX-5 and MX-9 vehicles to be sent to the in the future, each capable of carrying more equipment or return lunar material to Earth for sale. As you might be able to guess from the name, the mission would be a sample return mission that could bring "tens of kilograms" of lunar material back to Earth, Moon Express CEO Bob Richards said yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Besides vying for the X Prize, Moon Express will fly science equipment and payloads for at least three paying customers, including Houston-based Celestis, which offers memorial spaceflights for cremated remains.

Two follow-on expeditions, announced on Wednesday, are focused on establishing the first permanent outpost at the moon's south pole by the end of the decade, including the return of the first non-government lunar samples to Earth.

The company's four "explorers" can each be configured to operate as an orbiter, lander or deep space probe.

That first mission will seal the deal on the $20 million if Moon Express beats its global competitors. One of the primary benchmarks to win the Xprize competition is thatany contender must launch their expedition before the end of 2017.

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Moon Express also has plans for exploration beyond the lunar surface.

The MX-1E robotic lander.

Their first craft, the MX-1E, stands 4-and-a-half feet tall and 3 feet wide and will act as a base for other crafts, as it is built to connect with other models in a Lego-like fashion. One being that Rocket Lab has only tested their Electron rocket once and while it successfully reached space, it didn't reach orbit.

Technology giant Google is offering a top prize of $20 million for the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon. The MX-1 is proposed as the initial spacecraft to embark on the first expedition.

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