Lunar Mission One Takes-Off With Crowd-Funded Route to the Moon
By Anita Heward on November 20, 2014
Lunar Mission One, a new mission to the Moon, was announced yesterday. Within 24 hours, a crowd-funding campaign had raised more than 300,000 US dollars from public donations, in bid to raise around 1 million US dollars to kick-start development of the project. The aim of Lunar Mission One is to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon that will drill down at least 20 meters to collect lunar rock samples for scientific analysis, which could help us understand the origins of the Earth and its natural satellite. In addition, the spacecraft will bury a capsule that will hold an archive of data about humanity---including private 'digital memory boxes' that can be purchased by individuals or groups who would like to store photos, family records or even DNA in the form of a strand of hair!
It's this strategy to use public contributions to fund the development and launch of the spacecraft that makes Lunar Mission One such a radical and interesting mission concept. The project aims to develop an international educational programme around the mission and, like Google Lunar XPRIZE, would like for everyone alive today to experience similar excitement to the generation that witnessed the Apollo landings. Lunar Missions Ltd, the company behind the mission, has assembled a team of enthusiastic scientists and celebrity backers, including the TV presenter, Professor Brian Cox. As Cox says in a video on the Lunar Mission One crowd funding site, "The key thing for me is that everybody can say: 'I think we should explore space---it's important and so I am going to do something about it!'"
Landing on the Moon is no easy challenge---as our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams know well. However, in the coming months, we will see our teams get ready to trail-blaze commercial access to the Moon. By the time Lunar Mission One launches in 2024, a whole new world of opportunities may be available through that new lunar economy.
Lunar Mission One's announcement was made at the Reinventing Space Conference 2014 in London. At the conference, we've heard a lot about many different NewSpace opportunities---from small satellite launch vehicles to Mars sample return missions---and also about the challenges that NewSpace entrepreneurs face. What's impressive about the meeting is the breadth of experience of those presenting (including politicians, representatives from space agencies, entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers) and the confidence in those present that the next decade or so will see a step-change in the way we approach space missions through commercial activity.
At XPRIZE, we are dedicated fans of creative ideas for driving innovation and inspiring interest in science, technology and engineering. We wish Lunar Mission One every success and---along with the 18 competitors in the Google Lunar XPRIZE---we look forward to seeing commercial organizations open up an exciting future for humanity on the Moon.