According to the chairman of the American company Moon Express, the company will “definitely” launch its first mission to the moon next year, and may even establish human colonies on the moon sometime in 2022.
Chairman Naveen Jain told CNBC in an interview on Thursday that the mission will turn the business into a “superpower,” having done what only a few countries have managed in the past.
Moon Express says it’s not a priority, but they hope to win the $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE for becoming the first private firm to put a spacecraft on the moon.
Furthermore, the mission intends a “soft” lunar landing, meaning a controlled collision isn’t an option. To win the prize, they’ll need to “land the spacecraft, put a spacecraft on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit high definition video and images back to earth,” according to CNBC. And they’ll need to do it by March 2018.
In January, the company said that it was targeting a date in late 2017 to send its lander to the moon. But that has been pushed back until 2018.
“It’s definitely going to be next year, we are in the final stretches of it. And as you can imagine it’s rocket science,” Jain told CNBC in a TV interview from the Slush technology conference in Helsinki, Finland.
“We are really looking good and we are still hoping to launch the lander next year. And when we launch and land on the moon, not only (do) we become the first company to do so, we actually symbolically become the fourth superpower. And imagine the entrepreneurs doing things that only the three superpowers have done before.”
Superpowers such as the U.S. and Russia have previously landed on the moon.
Moon Express is the first private company to get U.S. government approval to go to the moon. Landing there would be a historic feat […]
Jain did not give an exact date for the launch and said that getting the [Google Lunar XPRIZE] prize isn’t necessarily the main priority.
The company hopes to mine the moon for resources useful to humans.
According to NASA, rare earth metals, including “fifteen lanthanides, scandium and yttrium,” could be mined from the moon for building electronics.
Furthermore, the moon’s surface is known to be abundant in helium-3, which can be used for nuclear fusion.
Could there really be human colonies and mines on the moon within just five years?
Jain says he wants to turn the moon into “our eight continent.”
The aim of Moon Express is to mine resources on the moon which can then be sent back to earth and used. Eventually though, Jain said the company is aiming to set up human colonies on the moon and forecast that this could happen in the next five years.
“I really believe that lunar is going to become like our eighth continent. We are going to have a permanent presence there, we are going to have internet there and we are going to be able to communicate just like we communicate from here to even Australia,” Jain told CNBC.
Moon Express has partnered with Rocket Lab. The company makes rockets, and Moon Express is using Rocket Lab’s booster to take its lander to the moon. Rocket Lab is planning a test for its Electron rocket on December 8.
Mining for helium-3 would require a great amount sifting through lunar soil, or regolith. The 2009 British science fiction film “Moon” assumed that long term, on-site human monitoring would be needed for a successful helium-3 mining operation.
It’s been nearly a decade, but just in case you still need a warning, here’s a SPOILER ALERT: In the film, they used clones.
Moon Express intends to establish permanent colonies on the moon in the next three years, perhaps because mining operations would require human workers.
No word yet on if they intend to use human clones to do the job.