Moon Express, Lunar Robotic Mining
Moon Express was founded in 2010 by Silicon Valley investors for the purpose of competing in the Google Lunar X Prize and eventually mining the Moon. Moon Express has 3 co-founders:
- Naveen Jain, a self-made American internet billionaire from India, who has a history of involvement in philanthropic humanistic organizations including the X Prize Foundation and the Singularity Institute, and projects such as assisting developing countries and developing education.
- Robert Richards, a Canadian whose leading space advocacy goes back to the mid-1980s with Peter Diamandis, worked with a NASA contractor, and co-founded Singularity University.
- Barney Pell, a computer scientist who co-founded Powerset, a natural language based search engine company which was purchased by Microsoft for $100 million, as well as other leading internet based businesses, and previously worked at NASA
As of 2011, the company, also known as MoonEx, had 25 employees and looked like it was growing.
Moon Express has established relationships with NASA for developing a lunar lander, which it has test flown successfully.
MoonEx is developing robotic technologies for moving around the Moon's surface prospecting for geological resources to mine. Moon Express has a contract for data purchase with NASA which could be worth up to $10 million at this stage.
Artwork from Moon Express shows a 4 legged hopper which works together with a hovercraft.
Timeline: Moon Express has said that it plans to land on the moon in late 2013, which would be just the beginning of their presence and operations.
A main goal they have emphasized is the search for Rare Earth Elements (which are currently supplied almost entirely by China), though they have expressed an interest in lunar resources in general.
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