While NASA, Russia, China and even Elon Musk are looking at Mars, Moon Express, Inc. has its eyes on the moon. The company aims to land on the moon this 2017 to explore and photograph the lunar surface.
The Florida-based company is the first private institution to secure a permission to fly beyond the Earth's orbit and to land on the moon. Moon Express recently announced that they now have enough funding for their first flight to the moon.
"We now have all the resources in place to shoot for the Moon," Moon Express CEO Bob Richards said in a statement.
Google Lunar X-Prize
Landing on the Earth's satellite will get the company to win in the current Google Lunar X-prize competition. Winning guarantees an additional $20 million funds for the mission.
The Google X-Prize lunar competition encourages competitors to get 90 percent of their funding from private institutions, according to TechCrunch. This way, the competition will also kick-start a lunar-based commercialization that is foreseen to benefit human kind.
Resources On The Moon
The company also has its eyes on mining "valuable" resources on the moon such as Helium-3. Last 2015, Moon Express announced that NASA is willing to share its knowledge to the private company in order to make moon mining a possibility.
With the first MX-E1 mission, Moon Express will study the possibility of mining water from the moon that can be converted into fuel but that's not the only potentially valuable material on the lunar surface.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the moon might have a reserve of clean energy source. Moon Express also added that the moon could potentially become the "gas station" in the sky due to its ample mineral deposits that could be mined and converted into fuel to help propel spacecraft.
The absence of atmosphere enables huge amounts of Helium-3 to accumulate on the moon. The solar winds produce Helium-3 that could potentially become a safer nuclear energy alternative. Safer in a sense that it won't produce waste products in the process.
Aside from Moon Express, other scientists are already mulling on the idea of exploring the rich deposits of Helium-3 on the moon. Harrison Schmidt, an Apollo program geologist and Gerald Kulcinski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have long believed on mining Helium-3 on the moon, says ESA.
The Moon As A Second Home
Moon Express is also looking at the possibility of turning the Earth's satellite into human's second home. With the mission rolling as expected, a holiday on the moon may indeed happen in the next decade, as announced earlier by Moon Express.