Miners on the Moon: Commercializing the Moon
Private Company Granted Permission to Land on Moon
It’s 2017, a new year ripe with new possibilities. For one American company, those possibilities extend beyond earth’s atmosphere and to another world. Moon Express Inc. is a private enterprise with the goal of utilizing the moon’s resources commercially. The company was founded in 2010 by Dr. Bob Richards (CEO), Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell and received approval in August of 2016 to land a robotic craft on the moon in 2017.
The resources Moon Express is interested in include metals, moon rocks, and most importantly of all, water. CEO Dr. Bob Richards says, “The recent discovery of water on the moon is an economic game changer for humanity's future. Water is the oil of the solar system, and the moon has become a gas station in the sky.”
What Dr. Richards is referring to is the use of water as a rocket fuel. A team from Cornell University pioneered a study in which solar panels were used to split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water. When recombined the gases ignite, creating sufficient fuel to propel spacecrafts. Therefore, the moon has the potential to become a fueling station and a starting point for other deep space missions. “The sky is not the limit for Moon Express- it is the launchpad.” states company chairman Naveen Jain.
Moon Express is already making a name for itself, having won $1.25 million in the Google Lunar XPrize event. This competition awards $20 million to the first private company to land a spacecraft on the moon, travel 500 meters, and send high definition photos back to earth. Moon Express has already won the milestone prizes for landing and imaging, and is still in the running for the grand prize.
The implications of this company’s mission are far reaching and mind boggling. If men can mine the moon, what’s next?