Moon Express says it will put robot base on the moon

Moon Express says it will put robot base on the moon

Moon Express says it will put robot base on the moon

It is planning at least three missions.

Richards presented the spacecraft design in Washington on Wednesday.

Moon Express also revealed more detail on the crafts that have been developed to achieve these lofty goals. The craft would be available as an orbiter as well as a lander.

A video of the MX-9 lunar surface lander shows its robot arms sucking up regolith from the moon's surface and place it into a pod in the center of the vehicle for storage. To do this, the Florida-based company wants to create a new class of spacecraft, called the MX Robotic Explorers, to land and deliver payloads to the lunar surface. This mission will include the delivery back to Earth of the first commercially-obtained moon samples.

The first colony on the moon might be full of robots instead of people, if a plan from the private space company Moon Express works out.

Artist's impression of sample return capsule
Moon Express

Two follow-on expeditions, announced on Wednesday, are focused on establishing the first permanent outpost at the moon's south pole by the end of the decade, including the return of the first non-government lunar samples to Earth. Moon Express' "Lunar Scout" expedition is aimed at being the first commercial mission to the moon. "The Moon is Earth's eighth continent; a new frontier for humanity with precious resources that can bring enormous benefits to life on Earth and our future in space". Moon Express aims to mass-produce the MX-1, sell it as a stand-alone lunar explorer and have it serve as a building block for three larger, more capable spacecraft - the MX-2, the MX-5 and the MX-9, Richards said today.

"The Google Lunar X Prize can be regarded as the icing on the cake", added Richards. The cost of one MX-1E will be around $10 million, and the company hopes to launch the MX-1E by the end of 2017. A laser altimeter is now undergoing testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and the main platform of the lander, a carbon composite "unibody" that incorporates the structure of the craft and its propellant tanks, is still being manufactured.

Moon Express' MX-5 can bring 330 pounds (150 kg) to the moon to support surface and cis-lunar operations. Once it lands, the MX-1E can then launch from the surface and return materials to Earth, if needed. California-based Rocket Lab launches its Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Although Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is getting first dibs, the idea is that the spacecraft could launch on any rocket in the future. They also have to complete the MX-1E lander, according to The Verge.

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