Moon Express Bring Us Back To The Moon

The two-day Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) began in Singapore yesterday with the main theme of “Pushing the Innovation Frontier.” Emerging satellite technologies, along with lunar exploration and development of space activities are the subjects of discussion at GSTC 2019, where speakers include top space industry and satellite technology specialists, such as the representatives of Israel Space Agency, Airbus, Virgin Orbit and others. Today, Bob Richards, the CEO of Moon Express, made a presentation about the company that wants to extract minerals from the Moon and create a base for humankind there. The main goal of Moon Express is to have permanent robots build a lunar base that can mine the South Pole for water and minerals — resources that can then be used to make propellant for spacecraft. Building a settlement on the Moon is one of the main goals of the Asgardia Space Nation

In 2017, the company revealed the schedule for a fleet of ships called the MX Robotic Explorers. According to the developers, this family of flexible, scalable research robots is capable of reaching the Moon and other Solar system destinations. For now, the company has not disclosed details of the missions or its launch provider. It is known that Moon Express has a contract with the American space startup Rocket Lab to conduct several launches on an experimental rocket called Electron. However, company officials said that they could use a larger rocket for future lander missions. 

Designed for Scout Class exploration capabilities starting from low Earth orbit, MX-1 delivers flexibility and performance to revolutionize access to the Moon and cis-lunar space. MX-1 uses eco-friendly fuels, advanced carbon composites and silicates, powered by the Moon Express PECO rocket engine. Picture credit: Moon Express

In October 2018, Moon Express said that it closed a $2.5 million bridge round of financing, with Minerva Capital Group as the investor. It has also raised $10 million led by an undisclosed lead investor. The funding will be used for the redevelopment of the Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral Station in Florida that the company is leasing from the Air Force to serve as a spacecraft development and test center. Also, this funding is intended for maiden flight of the Lunar Scout expedition aboard the MX-1E lander, which will analyze and photograph the surface of the Moon. The company plans to launch the first mission in 2019.

In 2020, the company is planning the Lunar Outpost expedition, which will launch to the so-called Peak of Eternal Light and will explore of the lunar South Pole. The main goals of this mission are to set up the first lunar research outpost, search for water and useful minerals, and accommodate a variety of research instruments for their expedition partner, the International Lunar Observatory Association’s ILO-1.

Designed as a workhorse that can deliver 150kg to low lunar orbit from low Earth orbit, with a range of configurations to support lunar landing and cis-lunar operations, the MX-5 can also be outfitted with MX-1 or MX-2 staged systems that can bring the entire solar system within reach. Picture credit: Moon Express

The next expedition the Harvest Moon will take place by 2020 and includes the first commercial sample return mission, which also begins the business phase of lunar resource prospecting. The lunar samples brought back to Earth will be used for scientific as well as commercial purposes.

Moon Express is an American privately held company formed by a group of Silicon Valley and space entrepreneurs in 2010. It became the first private company authorized by the US government under the requirements of the Outer Space Treaty to venture beyond Earth's orbit and land on the Moon. The main goal of Moon Express is to withdraw the economic and social spheres from the Earth to the Moon, explore unknown regions of the satellite and create a basis on the Moon for the future work of scientific and industrial units. Moon Express is one of the top contenders for Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition for the first private flight on its own ship to the moon.

Dual stage robotic explorer with enough punch to reach Venus or the moons of Mars from low Earth orbit. Dual stage flexibility drives more payload to the lunar surface or extends your reach to deep space. Compatible with existing and emergent launch vehicles, the MX-2 delivers exhilarating Scout Class possibilities for exploration and commerce at low cost. Picture credit: Moon Express

The Global Space and Technology Convention is Asia’s premier space and technology event, bringing the latest technology news, what’s hot in the satellite scene and space technology updates. In 2018, the conference welcomed more than 500 delegates, 60 speakers and 200 companies from more than 30 nations around the world, providing a platform for participants to connect with the rapidly developing space industry and explore Asian opportunities.

Ivan Cheberko