It was only a matter of time before a private space endeavor finally headed for the moon, and now NASA is preparing to approve the first-ever project.
No, SpaceX hasn’t decided to just shoot a Dragon capsule up there for Elon Musk to go for a stroll (though it wouldn’t surprise us). Instead, the Moon Express endeavor is poised to announced it has been granted regulatory approval by the U.S. government to send a lunar lander to the moon, according to a report at The Verge.
If you’re unfamiliar, Moon Express is a private spaceflight firm that eventually hopes to mine the moon for minerals. This mission will serve as a proof of concept to show the company can actually send tech to the lunar surface, by (hopefully) landing its 20-pound MX-1 lander. The company is competing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, and must land its rover on the moon by Dec. 31, 2017, to win. The rover will be carried to our celestial neighbor aboard Rocket Lab’s experimental Electron rocket.
With the first private space firm actually poised to put gear on the moon, it’ll certainly set a precedent for those who follow. In this case, Moon Express ran its mission parameters through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval, so the federal government could ensure the project adheres to the international Outer Space Treaty, which governs what nations can do in space.
As more and more private firms start kicking around up there, it’ll be interesting how the government responds to actually make sure no one is mucking about in space.
(Via The Verge)