October 2, 2015 – 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 September 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 million Google 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.