Moon Express (MoonEx), the host of the next Celestis lunar memorial spaceflight, has announced that it will provide $1.5M in private funding for NASA-selected, lunar science payloads to fly to the Moon — including a payload that will fly along with the Celestis participants on board the Celestis Luna 02 flight. When families choose Celestis memorial spaceflights they not only fulfill their loved ones’ dreams of spaceflight, they also support the exploration of space.
Moon Express made its announcement November 1, 2016 at the annual meeting of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), in response to NASA’s call for lunar instrument concepts that would be flown to the Moon utilizing commercial mission services. Under its Lunar Scout Program, Moon Express will provide up to $500,000 in funding for each instrument selected by NASA to fly aboard the company’s first three commercial lunar missions of opportunity, beginning next year in 2017.
“The Moon Express Lunar Scout Program is designed to expand our partnership with NASA and support the lunar science community with new low cost lunar orbiter and surface missions,” said company founder & CEO, Bob Richards. “Our goal is to collapse the cost of access to the Moon to enable a new era of lunar exploration and development for students, scientists and commercial interests.”
Earlier this year, Moon Express became the first private company to receive government permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit into deep space and land on the Moon. The company received the landmark U.S. policy decision on July 20th, 2016, following in depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies. Moon Express plans a series of low cost robotic missions to the Moon starting in 2017 in support of science, exploration and commerce, with a long term goal of prospecting and harvesting lunar resources.
Moon Express was selected by NASA as an industry partner in 2014 under the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) program, designed to spur commercial cargo transportation capabilities to the surface of the Moon. Under the Lunar CATALYST program, NASA has provided Moon Express with technical support in the development of the company’s lunar lander systems, including the first ever flight tests of a commercial lander test vehicle conducted at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility.
The Lunar Scout Program is intended to be a pathfinder beyond Lunar CATALYST for new public private partnerships enabling delivery of NASA funded lunar science and exploration payloads by Moon Express commercial missions of opportunity.
“Public-private partnerships can further enable the exploration of the Moon and we applaud NASA and Moon Express for their initiatives,” remarked Dr. Clive Neal, LEAG Chairman. “Programs of these kind will enable new lunar missions of interest to the national and international scientific and exploration communities.”
ABOUT MOON EXPRESS
Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx) is a privately funded commercial space company blazing a trail to the Moon to unlock its mysteries and resources with low cost robotic spacecraft products & services using exponential technologies. Driven by long-term goals of exploring and developing lunar resources for the benefit of humanity, the company has short-term business on-ramps of providing lunar transportation and services for government and commercial customers. NASA partnered with Moon Express in 2014 under its Lunar CATALYST program to help build the capability to return the United States to the surface of the Moon. In October 2015, Moon Express announced a launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for 3 launches to the Moon beginning in 2017. In 2016, Moon Express announced an agreement with the US Air Force to utilize Cape Canaveral Launch Complexes 17 and 18 for the development of its spacecraft.
Moon Express is a leading contender to win the $40M Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
The Moon Express founders, Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell, believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to humanity’s future on Earth and in space. For more information about Moon Express, visit: www.moonexpress.com
Reservations are open for the Celestis Luna 02 mission. Contact us for more information.
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Our next Earth Rise Service mission will launch out of Spaceport America, New Mexico. If you’re traveling to New Mexico — “The Land of Enchantment” — to view the liftoff in person, consider visiting some of the many tourist attractions near Spaceport America.
First, join us on our tour of Spaceport America on “L-1,” the day prior to liftoff. We’ll tour mission control and the launch pad where you can see the UP Aerospace launch vehicle that will carry your loved one into space. We’ll then drive to the futuristic “Gateway to Space” terminal/hangar where space tourists will board Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
We recommend a visit to one of the area’s famous hot springs, which have a reputation as ancient healing remedies, in nearby Truth or Consequences. In fact, the city of Truth or Consequences was originally named “Hot Springs.”
Another must-see is the outdoor display at the White Sands Missile Range Museum of over 50 rockets and missiles that were tested at the U.S. government’s famous White Sands Missile Range. White Sands is the U.S.’ largest overland military test range. It was at White Sands’ “Trinity Site” that the world’s first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945.
White Sands National Monument is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, dunes have engulfed 275 square miles of desert creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves this dunefield, along with the plants and animals that have adapted to its constantly changing environment.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park encompasses the largest and most popular lake in New Mexico, and provides camping, boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing, hiking and bird watching. Southern New Mexico’s mild climate makes this park a popular year-round destination.
We also recommend making the roughly two-hour drive to Alamogordo for a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. The museum stresses the significant role that the state of New Mexico has played in the development of the U.S. space program. For example, Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry, conducted much of his pioneering aerospace research in New Mexico. Visit the museum to learn more about Goddard’s work, and to see the museum’s many fascinating space history artifacts on display.
For more tourist information, visit the websites of the Elephant Butte Chamber of Commerce, the Truth or Consequences Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra County New Mexico Recreation and Tourism Board, the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the New Mexico Department of Tourism.
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