Private lunar mission 'seeks US approval'

Space startup Moon Express looks to embark on a mission to land a 20-pound (nine-kilo) package of scientific gear, including a t
Space startup Moon Express looks to embark on a mission to land a 20-pound (nine-kilo) package of scientific gear, including a telescope, on the moon sometime in the second half of 2017

The US government, in a first, is preparing to approve a private commercial space mission beyond the Earth's orbit, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The expected decision would set precedents for how the US government would ensure that private ventures comply with international space treaties, the Journal reported late Sunday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the details.

Once the guidelines are set, the space startup Moon Express would embark on a mission to land a 20-pound (nine-kilo) package of scientific gear, including a telescope, on the moon sometime in the second half of 2017.

"We've been a regulatory pathfinder out of necessity," because up to now "only governments have undertaken space missions beyond Earth orbit," Moon Express CEO and founder Bob Richards told the Journal.

The approval, still months away, would pave the way for several other for-profit space ventures.

These include plans to mine asteroids, track space debris, and billionaire Elon Musk's plan for an unmanned mission to Mars in 2018.

Moon Express is one of 16 companies competing for the Google Lunar X prize, which offers $20 million (18 million euros) for the first team that can land a privately funded rover on the moon, have the rover travel at least 500 meters (547 yards), and transmit back to Earth high definition video and images.


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Jun 06, 2016
Nobody owns the moon. Yet.
(except for my deeded lot of course. I received it as a gift).

Jun 06, 2016
"Nobody owns the moon. Yet."

True, although woe be it onto them who think they can mess with the immediate areas around the six Apollo landers. In any case, once we reach Mars and return to the moon, in situ resource utilization (ISRU) is going to lead us to de facto ownership of the resources being used and the surface around our outposts.

In the old days in the U.S., one could get homesteading rights by continuously occupying a plot of certain western land. This was done to help open up the frontier to settlement and development. The same principle would provide an incentive here. How about whoever spends at least a Martian year on Mars gets the surrounding 100,000 square miles (25.9 M hectares) of real estate to add to their home country? This is an area about the size of the State of Colorado. If a corporation does it, they earn ownership, but not sovereignty, over the land.

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