Moon Express signs historic launch agreement for private missions to the Moon
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Moon Express, Inc. is one step closer to becoming the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon. The company today announced it signed a contract with Rocket Lab on Sept. 30 to launch three Moon Express robotic spacecraft to land on the Moon starting in 2017. Moon Express is the first company in history to secure such a contract.
"Our goal is to blaze a trail to the Moon to unlock its mysteries and resources so we can improve life on Earth," said Moon Express Co-Founder and CEO Bob Richards, who made the announcement at the Space Technology & Investment Forum in San Francisco. "We are thrilled to have this contract in place with Rocket Lab and to work with them in fulfilling our dream of providing low-cost missions to the Moon for science and commerce."
Moon Express Co-Founder and Chairman Naveen Jain added: "Moon Express is building disruptive technologies that will forever change the cost of access to space, including the asteroids and even the moons of Mars. We are now taking advantage of exponential technology like 3D printing and inexpensive sensors to collapse the capital needed to access the Moon. Coupling these technological advancements with today's news about the Rocket Lab launch contract is a huge step forward for us in opening whole new markets for space exploration."
Under the launch services contract, Rocket Lab will use its Electron rocket system to launch three missions of Moon Express' MX-1 lunar lander spacecraft. The MX family of flexible, scalable spacecraft/landers are capable of reaching the lunar surface from Earth orbit on direct or low-energy trajectories. The breakthrough robotic space vehicle offers multiple applications, including delivery of scientific and commercial payloads to the Moon at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.
Two launches of MX-1 have been manifested with Rocket Lab for 2017, with the third to be scheduled at a later date. Moon Express has the option of launching from Rocket Lab's private launch range in New Zealand or from an American range.
"Rocket Lab is pleased to begin working with Moon Express to launch its spacecraft and to provide support to such an ambitious mission. Moon Express has used advanced orbital mechanics to enable this mission from low-Earth orbit," said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. "The new contract with Moon Express shows the broad market demand for Rocket Lab's affordable, high-frequency Electron launch vehicle."
Moon Express, which is focused on building a sustainable, full-service space exploration business, is also pursuing the $30 millionGoogle Lunar XPRIZE, a competition to land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, travel 500 meters and transmit back high-definition video and images to Earth. The company was awarded $1 million by Google (GOOG) earlier this year as the only team to flight test a prototype of its lander.
About Moon Express, Inc.
A privately funded commercial space company, Moon Express, Inc. is developing innovative, flexible and scalable robotic spacecraft that will radically reduce the cost of space exploration and unlock the mysteries and resources of the Moon for the benefit of life on Earth. The company combines best practices of traditional aerospace "know-how" with the innovation and entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley. Headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Park in California, Moon Express was founded in August 2010 by Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, Naveen Jain and Dr. Barney Pell. It was quickly selected by NASA for its $30 million Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program, and as a partner in its Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) program to spur commercial cargo transportation capabilities to the surface of the Moon. Moon Express is a recognized leader in the $30 millionGoogle Lunar XPRIZE competition. For more information, visit www.moonexpress.com.
About Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab's mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space. It was founded on the belief that small payloads require dedicated small launch vehicles and the flexibility not currently offered by traditional rocket systems. Since its creation in 2007 by New Zealander Peter Beck, Rocket Lab has delivered a range of complete rocket systems and technologies for fast and affordable payload deployment. Rocket Lab is a privately funded company, with major investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Bessemer Venture Partners and Lockheed Martin. Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles with operations and a launch site in New Zealand. For more information, visit http://www.rocketlabusa.com/.