2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Artistic representation of the MX-1E spacecraft approaching the Moon.
The private company Moon Express received $ 20 million in its latest funding round, with a total investment in the lunar startup exceeding $ 45 million. According to company representatives, Moon Express is now ready to send a spacecraft to the moon as part of the Lunar X PRIZE competition. Reported by The Verge.
16 teams are competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. To receive the award, participants must design, build and send a spacecraft to the moon. The device must make a soft landing on the surface of an Earth satellite, demonstrate the ability to move at a distance of at least 500 meters and transmit high-resolution photographs and videos to Earth. The prize pool of the award is $ 30 million, 20 of which will go to the first team to meet the specified conditions by the end of 2017.
Moon Express plans to use the Electron rocket to deliver its MX-1E spacecraft into orbit, after which it will reach the moon on its engines in four days. After lunar landing, the lander will transmit photo and video materials to Earth. In addition, the MX-1E will deliver scientific instruments and equipment to the moon developed by NASA, the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) and the University of Maryland at College Park.
The Electron launch vehicle was developed by the American aerospace company Rocket Lab, which plans to launch small satellites into orbit using rocket launches in New Zealand. It should be noted that Electron is still in the testing phase and the developers only recently announced a test flight planned for 2017, so in case of failure, the Moon Express will have little time to organize a flight with another rocket.
An Electron launch vehicle that is planned to be used to send the MX-1E.
In addition to directly building a spacecraft with a landing module, Moon Express also solved the problem of legal restrictions - in the summer of 2016 it became known that the US government would lift the legislative ban on flights out of Earth's orbit by private companies.
In addition to Moon Express, Lunar X PRIZE has other participants who are close to fulfilling the conditions of the competition. Back in 2015, the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL announced its readiness to send a spacecraft to the moon in the second half of 2017.