Could the Moon and its resources be used to aid humanity in the future? Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of California-based company Moon Express, explains that their plan is to explore the Moon for “resources of benefit to humanity”.
The Moon is known for its vast riches like gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten and Helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste. However, who ‘owns the Moon’? The United Nations’ 1979 Moon Agreement, states that “the Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind”, while UN’s Outer Space Treaty, states that “the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind”.
“Today, people look at diamonds as this rare thing on Earth,” Jain said. “Imagine telling someone you love her by giving her the Moon.”
NASA is apparently working with Moon Express to develop robotic spacecrafts. Moon Express is said to have signed an agreement to take over the decommissioned Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral. The launch pad will be used for Moon Express’s lander development and flight-test operations.
“Clearly, NASA has an amazing amount of expertise when it comes to getting to the Moon, and it wants to pass that knowledge on to a company like ours that has the best chance of being successful,” Jain said.
Also, Moon Express has been granted a $1 million prize from Google for taking part in the Google-sponsored Lunar X Prize, organised by the X Prize Foundation, that will award $30 million to the first company that lands a commercial spacecraft on the Moon, travels 500 meters across its surface and sends high-definition images and video back to Earth before the end of 2016.
“The purpose is to show that for the first time, a company has developed the technology to land softly on the Moon,” Jain stated. “Landing on the moon is not the hard part. Landing softly is the hard part.”
Moon Express is said to further test its robotic spacecraft at the end of the month. The MX-1, its lander, is said to take off from the pad and go up and sideways before landing back on the pad. Should the test be successful, the MX-1 will be deemed ready to travel to the Moon.
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