A private mission to the moon!? It is tentatively scheduled:
U.S. officials appear poised to make space history by giving the green light to the first private mission aiming to go beyond Earth orbit, according to people familiar with the details.
The government’s endorsement would eliminate the largest regulatory obstacle to plans by Moon Express, a relatively obscure space startup, to land a roughly 20-pound package of scientific hardware on the Moon sometime next year. It also would provide the biggest federal boost yet for unmanned commercial space exploration and, potentially, the first in an array of for-profit ventures throughout the solar system.
The expected decision, said the people familiar with the details, is expected to set important legal and diplomatic precedents for how Washington will ensure such nongovernmental projects comply with longstanding international space treaties. The principles are likely to apply to future spacecraft whose potential purposes range from mining asteroids to tracking space debris.
Approval of a formal launch license for the second half of 2017 is still months away, and the proposed mission poses huge technical hurdles for California-based Moon Express, including the fact that the rocket it wants to use hasn’t yet flown.
But the project’s proponents have considered federal clearance of the suitcase-size MX-1 lander and its payload as well as approval of a planned two-week operation on the Moon itself to pose the most significant legal challenges to the mission.After months of lobbying by Moon Express officials and high-level deliberations among various federal agencies led by the White House science office, the people familiar with the matter said, the company appears close to obtaining what it has called “mission approval.” Until recently, Moon Express faced a regulatory Catch-22 because there was no template for getting Washington’s blessing for what it proposed.
This is exciting stuff. A private moon mission is just what we need now. Once private technology and expertise finally catches up with the bloated, government funded whales that are the national space agencies, we as a species will initiate a new wild west style gold rush into space.
As a species, humanity must grow beyond Earth if it is to survive. There is limitless resources, space, and opportunity for an economic golden age if we have the will to take it.
As a bonus, once we get off this rock in the coming decades, the national and international governments will have a hard time controlling this diaspora of humanity. This could potentially be a libertarian’s wet dream come true.
And it is not just one company, SpaceX is also interested. Just to refresh everyone’s minds on who they are, they are the company behind several amazing videos showing pinpoint landings of rockets on ocean and land. They have been looking into doing their own outerspace missions:
The same process is expected to be used to evaulate private attempts to fly deeper into space, including billionaire Elon Musk’s plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2018. Officials of SpaceX, as Mr. Musk’s company is called, already are engaged in similar government-wide discussions in advance of seeking a launch license.
Imagine removing our dependence on China for any and all rare materials? Imagine strip mining asteroids instead of here.
We better hurry too, because everyone and their brother is looking to cash in on this. Even tiny micronations like Luxemborg are investing millions of dollars into this to get commercial space capability.
Do we want to be beaten by a dot on the map? I say heck no!