The dream of mining metals and valuable ores from the lunar surface becomes more of reality as Moon Express receives authorization to explore the lunar surface. Lunar exploration has been the sole purview of governments of the USA, China, Russia, and Japan. However, today private enterprises from five countries are racing to perfect a reliable moon spacecraft.
The Google Lunar XPrize is offering $20 million to the first company which will be able to land a spaceship on the moon. Google has put stiff terms for any company to qualify for the race. The unmanned vehicle designed by the corporation must travel at least 500 meters and also send HD videos back to earth.
The shortlisted companies include an American team led by its founder Naveen Jain. The project has been titled Moon Express. The other teams which have also qualified for the competition include Israel’s SpaceIL, Synergy Moon, India’s TeamIndus, and Japan’s Hakuto.
Moon Express has obtained a fresh influx of $ 20 million for its lunar missions that will occur at the end of 2017.It has already collected $45 million from major private investors like Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Collaborative Fund, and Autodesk. Investor sentiments got a fillip after the US President Trump had major meetings with NASA members like Charles Miller and Chris Shank and also the future administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine. Moon Express is perfecting its MX-1E under the technical guidance if Rocket Lab of the USA. The MX-1E will detach itself from its mother ship and will go on a four-day rendezvous with the moon.
The Moon Express mission will start in November 2017 and will kick start the first step towards exploiting the riches from the lunar surface which includes Helium-3, gold, platinum group metals, rare earth metals and water. It will also help scientists create future space colonies in Moon which will set the stage to send deep space missions in the future.