US company gets historic nod to send lander to moon

US startup company Moon Express has received approval from the government to send an unmanned lander to the moon next year, in a
US startup company Moon Express has received approval from the government to send an unmanned lander to the moon next year, in a first for private industry

US startup company Moon Express said Wednesday it had received approval from the government to send an unmanned lander to the moon next year, in a first for private industry.

Until now, only the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union and China have sent spacecraft to the moon.

Commercial spacecraft have flown within the bounds of Earth's orbit.

"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," said Bob Richards, co-founder and chief executive of Moon Express.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced its approval Wednesday, following consultations with the White House, State Department and the US space agency NASA.

Moon Express, based in Cape Canaveral, Florida, was founded in 2010.

It has yet to finish its , which will be carried in late 2017 by a rocket made by Rocket Lab, another startup, which has not yet launched any commercial missions.

"The sky is not the limit for Moon Express—it is the launchpad," said Moon Express co-founder Naveen Jain, describing the as "another giant leap for humanity."

The company's goal is to develop low-cost spacecraft and to explore the resources on the moon, he said.

"In the immediate future we envision bringing precious resources, metals and moon rocks back to Earth," said Jain.


Explore further

Moon Express, Rocket Lab set for 2017 mission plan

More information: Moon Express: www.moonexpress.com/

© 2016 AFP

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Aug 04, 2016
How sad. The Moon is for all of Humanity, not to be raped for the profits of a select few. By all means mine near Earth objects like asteroids if the need is truly there. But the Moon is our sister, countless generations have stared up in wonder at the beauty and majesty of our closest neighbour, how long until we see a patchwork of man made scars across her surface, or worse still, a Moon sized advert for Coca Cola?

Aug 04, 2016
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Aug 04, 2016
Some attitudes will only reap that which the holders seem to fear most. By not visiting and utilizing the moon ourselves, we will leave it to others to do worse if we do not go ourselves.

Aug 05, 2016
I don't think it's beauty from earth is going to change much and I can only envisage quite localized activities there. Observing the moon and stars from a moon base would provide beauty in itself. I would not worry.

Aug 08, 2016
Permission? Space doesn't belong to America or any other Earth nation. It's free for anyone to exploit as they see fit.

Aug 10, 2016
@rrander This kind of mentality draws the strongest of parallels with the great age of discovery: sovereign territories gave companies permission to exploit any new land they found (think British East India Company), companies began to control vast swathes of the New World discovered (often in nefarious ways e.g. Native American genocide), many wars were waged over these new lawless lands between major powers (e.g. every war since 1600), companies and individuals gained massively at the expense of almost everyone else involved.

What we need is strong international consensus: conventions, agreements and laws to avoid tensions between the spacefaring nations and to ensure that any profits are shared and not hoarded.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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