Moon Express closes funding for private moon shot

And while the technical challenges of spaceflight are considerable, it’s arguable that political science remains the greater of these two hurdles. It has its spacecraft, and it has a verified contract for the launch of its lander.In addition to having the wherewithal, Moon Express has preliminary approval for its payload from the US government.”We now have all the resources in place to shoot for the moon”, the Florida-based company’s CEO, Bob Richards, said in a statement. That, he realizes, remains a formidable challenge.The additional funding came from multiple venture capital funds, the software company Autodesk and other private resources.In order to win the XPrize, the Mars Express lander, MX-1E, will have to successfully land on the Moon, travel for more than 500 feet, and transmit high-resolution photos and videos back to Earth. It received $20 million recently and now has raised $45 million so far.Of course to win that title, Moon Express will need to beat the other X-Prize competitors including SpaceIL from Israel, Team Indus from India (carrying the Japanese team HAKUTO as a payload), and the worldwide team Synergy Moon. Only the United States, Soviet Union, and China have ever softly landed on the Moon and deployed a rover, let alone any privately funded company. The plan is to launch this rocket, The Electron from New Zealand. Naveen Jain, co-founder and Chairman of Moon Express. In an interview, Richards explained that the company is working to fine-tune the propulsion system for its MX-1 spacecraft, which operates partially on hydrogen peroxide for maneuvering and kerosene fuel for major orbital transfers. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket has not flown yet and while the aeronautics startup said that it will start conducting flight tests earlier this year, no official launch date has yet been set. That money will go toward launching Moon Express’s MX-1E lander, which will explore and take pictures of the Moon’s surface after launching on an experimental Electron rocket.”This is not my first space rodeo, and there’s no illusion here about how hard it is and how much has to go right for us to meet the schedule in front of us”, Richards said.If MX-1E is successful, Moon Express hopes to send more probes to the Moon, including at least one that will collect a sample and bring it back. The company is not committed to any landing site on the Moon, and it has a primary goal of landing “safely and softly”.Moon Express is a Californian company that has its hopes set in mining the Moon someday. X Prize requires that 90 percent of the competitors’ funding be from private sources.