Going to the Moon is so 1960s I hear you say? Not anymore my friend. Space company Moon Express plan to not only go to the Moon, but mine it whilst they are there. Founded by my university’s co-founder Bob Richards of the International Space University (ISU) with entrepreneurs Naveen Jain and Barney Pell, the privately-funded lunar resource company is headquartered in the NASA Ames Research Park, California. It is there, that they are using a unique blend of the agile Silicon Valley start-up approach with aerospace engineering and planetary sciences expertise to put their plans into action.
Resources of economic value such as Yttrium, Dysprosium, Nyobium that are rare on Earth are what the rovers built by the Moon Express team will look for and extract. By providing people with such resources, they are focused on opening up the resources of the Moon for the benefit of humanity.
With this long-term goal in mind, developing and eventually offering commercial lunar robotic transportation and data services is what the company is also working on. Most recently, MoonEx (as they are also known) announced their collaboration with the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) in order to conduct the world’s first mission to the Moon’s South Pole. Using the Moon Express robotic lander, an International Lunar Observatory (ILA) will be delivered to the Moon’s surface. There, it will be the first instrument ever to photograph and listen to the Universe from the Lunar perspective. Finally! The Moon will be lonely no more (sorry Moon).
As well as all of the incredible above plans, MoonEx are striving towards winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE, an international lunar competition with the incentive of a $20M first prize. It really is a race to the Moon. Again.
Last week, Bob hosted my ISU friends and I with lunch at MoonEx HQ where he shared fond stories of the past and inspirational dreams of the future of ISU. We then began a tradition of visiting a tree planted at NASA Ames in memory of Todd B. Hawley, ISU co-founder and space visionary. I do hope that future ISU interns at NASA Ames continue this tradition in the many years to come.
“Together we shall aspire to the stars with wisdom, vision and effort”. – From the ISU Credo