Saturday, October 3, 2015

$30m Google Lunar X-Prize To Land A Privately Funded Robot On the Moon Now in Play

From The Register:

Moon miners book Kiwi rockets for 2017 lunar landing
 Moon Express MX-1
Moon Express, one of the teams competing for the $30m Google Lunar X-Prize, has booked five rockets that will be ready for a 2017 attempt to get to the Moon.

The deal with New Zealand firm Rocket Labs will see Moon Express' MX-1 lander make an attempt at the first commercial lunar landing for the Google Lunar X-Prize. To win the cash, the lander will have to travel at least 500 meters across the Moon's surface and send back high-definition video of the feat.

"The holy grail of our company is to provide, to prove, a full-services capability – not just landing, but coming back from the moon," Moon Express CEO Bob Richards, told
"We're going to be inspired to try a sample-return. I don't know if we'll do that on the second mission, but I sure hope we're trying it by the third mission, if all is going that well."

Although there are 16 teams currently in the running for the X-Prize, Moon Ventures is one of the front runners, and the company has big plans for the Moon. The company wants to become the first extraterrestrial mining company and harvest platinum group metals, rare earth elements, and Helium 3 from what it calls the "eighth continent."

That's not going to be possible with the MX-1; it's a lightweight test platform. The coffee table-sized spaceship will be boosted into orbit by the Rocket Labs delivery vehicle. It will then use hydrogen peroxide fuel to make it to the Moon and land safely.

Moon Express calls the probe the "iPhone of space,"...MORE