The company is in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition
Moon Express, the first private company in history to receive permission to travel to the Moon, has successfully raised enough funds to finance its first mission.
Moon Express has raised the funds as part of its attempt to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which aims to reward the first private company to land a robot on the Moon. The $30 million prize (£23m) will be awarded to the first company to soft-land on the moon, travel 500 metres across the surface and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth. The company that comes second will win $5m (£4m).
The start-up is planning to launch its MX-1E spacecraft to the Moon at the end of this year. If successful Moon Express would become the first private company, and only the fourth entity ever, to soft-land on the Moon.
Moon Express wants to explore our lunar companion in order to investigate the Moon’s resources, describing it as an “eighth continent, holding vast resources” that could benefit life on Earth. “In the immediate future, we envision bringing precious resources, metals and moons back to Earth,” co-founder and chairman, Naveen Jain said in August 2016
In order to make its dream possible, Moon Express is working with launch provider Rocket Lab USA, and plans to use its Electron rocket to take Moon Express’ MX-1E on its lunar journey. Though Rocket Lab USA is yet to fly its experimental rocket, the first launch is set for later this month.
Other teams racing Moon Express to Google’s Lunar XPRIZE prize include Team Indus, the only Indian team taking part in the competition. Team Indus plans to launch its spacecraft inside the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle Rocket in December 2017. In total, there are 13 times striving to win the competition.