Lunar Roundup: Malapert Mountain

Lunar Roundup: Malapert Mountain

The first mission to the Moon's south pole is from team Moon Express! Plus, rocket fun.

This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE....

One of the teams is going to this:

The south pole of the Moon! [JAXA image.] 

Moon Express  announced plans to deliver a telescope to the southern Malapert Mountain, while they (and several other teams) shared some rocket-related progress...

Up Upon the Mountainside

Moon Express  and the ILOA formally announced their plans for a mission to the Moon's south pole!

“The mission will provide a historic landing in an unexplored region of the Moon that may harbor some of the greatest resource deposits in the solar system.” -Bob Richards, Moon Express

The first-ever mission to the South Pole (if you don't count the LCROSS "moon bombing" and Chandrayaan-1 impacts) will set up a telescope on top of the 16,000 foot-high Malapert Mountain---a prime location on the Moon. Malapert's peak gets near-constant sunlight (good for solar), can nearly always see Earth (good for communications), and is close to permanently-shadowed craters (good for water ice mining). 

Malapert Mountain (or "Massif") can be seen in this HD video by the Japanese Kaguya orbiter, taken in 2007. It's that big ol' ridge in the middle that the Earthset is happening behind:

This big lunar telescope could give the world some unprecedented views of the Universe (thanks to the benefits of a Moon-based telescope, including less radio interference on the far side).

And, in fact, you (or your kids' classroom) could be guiding those views personally over the web:

"The ILO and its precursor will have an internet-based access and control system and will be the first private space telescope[s] to operate from the lunar surface, available to researchers, educators and the general public through the internet." -Press Release

That 'precursor'---the smaller prototype telescope ILO-X---is planned to fly on a Moon Express mission in 2015. (The south-pole mission could happen as soon as 2016). Taking citizen science to a new level!

Rocket City

And in another big release from Moon Express , they announced the opening of their Propulsion Development Facility in Hunstville, Alabama (also known as 'Rocket City')!


Huntsville, Alabama---image by DougGarner on Flickr.

This follows Moon Express' acquisition of team Rocket City Space Pioneers last year.

Tim Pickens---the former team lead of Rocket City Space Pioneers, and now MoonEx's Chief Propulsion Engineer---talked about some of his favorite rocket exploits in this (memorable) video, which includes strapping rockets onto a pickup truck:

There's a whole bunch of videos from or about Tim Pickens that are pretty great, from TED talks to crazy experiments, so check those out!

The release details some of the team's propulsion achievements so far. Looking forward to more rocket fun out of Alabama!

Obtaining a Launcher

And speaking of rockets, SpaceIL  talked about their own challenges in acquiring a launcher for their mission! With this cool picture attached:

Building Equipment

Penn State Lunar Lion  also had their own rocket fun to share, posting an update on the construction of their rocket test stand:

Surviving Little Girls

And lastly, in a very important test, team Puli 's rover found itself trying to survive hand-to-hand combat with a pack of little girls. Did it manage to escape? Click to find out:

An important endurance test on the way to the Moon---if your rover can survive ten kids at melee range, it can survive anything! :)

Honorable Mentions:


I’ll be rounding these up every week, so keep an eye here for the best developments from our very own moon race.

For the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos.

And if you have any favorite stories from the week that didn’t make it in here---share them below!

July 16th-July 22nd, 2013.

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