The Google Lunar X Prize competition revealed a relatively new and innovative project that is to exploit the Moon beyond today’s understanding of our natural satellite. The Moon Express Inc., as the project is called, is one of many private companies in the Google Lunar competition that attempts to send robots on the Moon in the near future.
Details regarding the Moon Express Inc. were presented by the co-funder of the project, Naveen Jain. The internet entrepreneur developed new ideas regarding the potential of the Moon from a business point of view. The initial plan is to reach the surface of the Moon. After that is accomplished, MoonEx Company would try to mine resources that are found on the Moon and to develop other ways of making money out of this project.
In an interview given for The Times, Naveen Jain stated all the aspects of such a business. The idea was to find a link between entrepreneurship and science in order to solve a list of problems regarding primarily the available resources. Given that most of the Moon has been already mapped by NASA and other space programs, MoonEx only needed to combine all the available data in order to come up with a plan and commence mining operations. The resources of the Moon represent mainly rare Earth elements that today can mostly be found in Chinese territory, and lately, are hard to acquire because of the current Chinese policies.
The plans start with the Moon Express Inc.: a small, self-guided hover aircraft that is to conduct the first mining operations on the Moon. What makes this project viable business-wise is the partnership with NASA: the new lunar project can and will use the existing technology created primarily by NASA after decades of studies and experiments. NASA’s expertise will aid in the creation, development and goals of this project in order to make it a brilliant business opportunity. Even though such projects are in the private sector, space programs are to take a certain percentage of the credit once the results start to appear. The rocket science is and will be developed by NASA alone during this project, with the private sector will take care of the rest.
One of the business ideas that may appear once the project is underway is to send certain messages or objects to the Moon, in an attempt to preserve some personal items. This is regarded as a great business opportunity, as the Moon is a perfect time capsule (an example being the astronauts’ footprints that are preserved in perfect condition). The platform will be made to be extremely versatile towards the requirements of the costumers (photographs, DNA samples, etc).
The companies involved in this project are NASA, Google and MoonEx. In case all goes according to plan, the hover aircraft should take off in 2013 and the project could be used in various missions (scientific missions, consumer missions, business missions, mining operations, etc). If it proves to be profitable, such a project can lead the way for many other developments and could extend the current barrier of mankind to include the Moon.