Mountain View California based Startup Moon Express , which became the first private company to be allowed to travel to the moon last year, has successfully raised enough funds to finance its first mission.
CEO Bob Richards said that the California-based startup has raised a total of $45 million in private investment and venture funds. Moon Express is also competing to win a $30 million grand prize in the Google Lunar X Prize competition.
The $30 million prize will be awarded to the first company to soft-land on the moon, travel 500 metres across the surface and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth. There is also an award of $5m for the company that comes second.
Moon Express is planning to launch its MX-1E spacecraft to the Moon at the end of this year.
Co-founder and chairman of Monn Express, Naveen Jain earlier described Moon Express as the “eighth continent, holding vast resources and that can benefit earth tremendously”.
Other teams racing Moon Express to Google’s Lunar XPRIZE prize include Team Indus. It is the only Indian team taking part in the competition. Team Indus is planning to launch its spacecraft inside the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO)Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle Rocket in December 2017. In total, there are 13 times striving to win the competition.
In order to make the mission successful, Moon Express has collaborated with launch provider Rocket Lab USA. It is also planning to use its Electron rocket to take Moon Express’ MX-1E on its lunar journey. Rocket Lab USA, is scheduled to do its first test launch of the experimental rocket it will use this month.
In August 2016, Moon Express came out with the following press release.
The U.S. Government has made a historic ruling to allow the first private enterprise,Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon’s valuable resources.
Moon Express received the green light for pursuing its 2017 lunar mission following in depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies.Up until now all commercial companies have been limited to operations in Earth’s orbit, and only governments have sent missions to other worlds.With this landmark ruling, Moon Express has become the first private company approved to literally go out of this world as a pioneer of commercial space missions beyond Earth orbit.The federal interagency approval of the Moon Express 2017 lunar mission establishes an important precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration, bringing with it monumental implications for the advancement of technology, science, research, and development, as well as commercial ventures that expand Earth’s economic sphere.The framework of the interagency approval surrounds Moon Express’ proposed ‘Mission Approval’ arrangement that utilizes existing payload review and launch license processes under authorities of the Secretary of Transportation, and adds to them a series of voluntary disclosures intended to provide the Federal Government with sufficient information to help fulfill its supervisory obligations under the Outer Space Treaty. The company submitted its historic application for a 2017 commercial lunar mission to the FAA on April 8th, 2016. “The Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the U.S. government and a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond the Earth’s orbit,” remarks co-founder & CEO, Bob Richards.“We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth’s eighth continent,the Moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth’s economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity.”
Image Source : ESO