Moon Express Set to Launch Robotic Lunar Spacecraft by Year-End
A private company plans to use a robotic spacecraft to launch a series of commercial missions to the moon, some 45 years after NASA’s latest lunar landing, authorities said Wednesday.
Luna Express is developing a low-cost fleet of robotic spacecraft that can be assembled as Legos to handle increasingly complex missions, said Bob Richards, founder and CEO.
The initial spacecraft, known as MX-1E, must be controlled before the end of the year in a rocket-powered electron lab actuator, launched in New Zealand. Luna expressed the hope that the effort would receive a $ 20 million prize in Google, but Richards said victory was not essential.
Luna Express has raised more than $ 45 million from private investors to build its first spacecraft and purchase launch services.
“The Google Lunar X award wins … the cake,” said Richards.
Google offers a first prize of 20 million for the first privately funded team to land a spacecraft on the moon (about Rs 128 million rupees.); Ask him to fly, drive or jump at least 1,640 feet (500 meters) and transmit images and video to Earth. The second prize of 5 million.
The occupants until December 31 to launch their spacecraft.
Google also provides additional money for other measures, such as 5-km navigation (5.1 miles), touching near an Apollo landing site or searching for evidence of water.
Richards introduced the spacecraft design in Washington on Wednesday.
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In addition to competing for the X Prize, Luna Express will conduct scientific equipment and payloads for at least three paying customers, including Celestis, based in Houston, which offers space-commemorative remains ashes.
Richards said the company would pay the initial mission, customers would finance them.
The company plans to establish a permanent robot base at the south pole of the moon to explore water and other materials. In 2020, the Moon Express plans to return lunar samples to the Earth for research and commercial sale.
The MX Series spacecraft can also be extended to move to other places, such as the moons of Mars. The company expects to complete the first spacecraft in September.