The company Moon Express has just swept through a $20 million round of financing in a quest to dominate the lunar economy.
Led by CEO Bob Richards, the company is determined to secure the resources of what Richards calls “the unexplored eighth continent” in order to bring “precious resources, metals, and moon rocks” back to Earth. With this latest $20 million, he claims that Moon Express has “all the resources in place to shoot for the moon.”
Our goal is to expand Earth’s social and economic sphere to the Moon, our largely unexplored eighth continent, and enable a new era of low cost lunar exploration and development for students, scientists, space agencies and commercial interests.
Moon Express has amassed $45 million so far toward the construction of a lunar lander about the size of a modern washing machine. The MX-1E will launch out of New Zealand on the back of Rocket Lab’s new Electron rocket, an as-yet untested craft that promises to “change how we access space” through its “revolutionary design.”
If Moon Express can accomplish all of this before anyone else, they’ll still need to travel 500 meters across the surface of the moon, as well as transmit high-definition images back to Earth. That will secure them the coveted Google Lunar Xprize, earning them another $30 million for their ongoing efforts.
But time is ticking. According to the terms of the competition, “teams have until the end of 2016 to announce a verified launch contract to remain in the competition and complete their mission by the end of 2017.” The runner-up will only be given a comparatively meager $5 million, so the stakes on these already risk-intense projects are higher than ever before.
Of sixteen teams, only five managed to make that initial deadline, leaving eleven dead in the proverbial water. Moon Express will still need to beat SpaceIL, Synergy Moon, Team Indus, and Hakuto to the rocky, orbiting finish line.
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