Moon Express About to Get Approval for the First Lunar Mission by a Private Company
Mankind is about to enter a new age of space explorations.
According to reports, the U.S. government is about to allow the first private moon mission. This regulatory move is expected to open the field of space explorations to private firms which are currently dominated by space agencies from different nations.
Moon Express, a California-based company developed MX-1 lander and is seeking approval from the government to land their spacecraft on the moon. Some sources who spoke with Wall Street Journal claim that the regulators were set to give "mission approval" to the project.
The company asked permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch a $20-million moon exploration mission in 2017.
"The approval of the application sends an important message to American spaceflight companies that the government is willing to work with industry to open a new frontier and win the next great space race," said Moon Express in a statement.
The lunar mission, once approved, will land on the moon and conduct a two-week exploration. This proposal has gathered the interests of private and commercial space agencies due to the fact that only nations and their space agencies have launched missions beyond the confines of the Earth. Private companies, although involved in building space technologies, haven't done independent missions beyond the Earth's orbit.
If approved, Moon Express will change the game for private space companies.
"Moon Express, I think, is paving the way for commercial activity outside of Earth orbit," said Mariel Borowitz, assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, in an interview published by LA Times.
Moon Express plans to send 20 lbs of hardware to the moon. Aside from their independent mission, Moon Express is aiming to close a deal with NASA for the Google Lunar X Prize, which will grant a $30 million prize for space companies to create cost effective access to the moon.