Moon Express, a startup company based in Cape Canaveral, will soon become the first company to travel to the Moon and explore its potential for resources.

Moon Express logo.

The US government has granted permission to the company to launch from the US and aim for the Moon. They already have a launch date goal for 2017, when they plan to send a rover to the moon’s surface and survey for the best locations to set up mining operations. They are particularly looking at mining iron ore, water, rare Earth minerals, metals, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium-3.

Naveen Jain, founder of Moon Express says he was inspired by Elon Musk and SpaceX. He says that his company’s mission is part of a larger vision to start spreading humanity’s wings outside the Earth. He believes that multi-planetary habitation is very important for the survival of the human race, and this is the first step towards that. He also says that space flight is becoming cheaper and cheaper. In an interview with CNBC, he says that in a few years, traveling to the Moon may cost as little as $10,000.

“In a mission that initially cost us to go to the moon about $25 billion, our mission to the moon next year is going to be $7 million, and the year after it’s going to go down to millions. And in the next ten years, the cost of going to the moon is going to be $10,000. And in fact, even the time to go to the moon … we’ll be able to go to the moon in 4 hours. That’s faster than going from New York to London,” Jain told CNBC.

In a more pragmatic view, the Moon may also provide some much-needed resources. The Earth is running out of exploitable Helium-3 but there is good reason to believe that the Moon has an abundance of helium-3, an isotope used in neutron detection, cryogenics, and medical lung imaging.

The legal framework for extracting minerals outside of Earth is still debatable. Yet in 2015, the US Congress passed a law that made extracting resources in space fair game and China is also actively seeking ways to mine the Moon. The race is on, and everyone wants a piece of the moonpie. But in the long run, Moon Express is eyeing an even bigger objective: Mars.

“Mars is absolutely the right place to be ultimately. But (the) moon is the first training ground and the first stepping stone. At the end of the day, we would rather me a lunatic three days away than be a Martian six months away,” Jain told CNBC. “So I really believe the problems living on the moon are similar – the high radiation, vast temperatture difference – and if we can solve that problem on the moon we can easily go on living on Mars after.”

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2 Comments

  1. 1

    No. I'm sorry ,just because the US is at the forefront of Space technology,does not mean that it gives the US. a right to declare it's ok to start mining the moon for resources. Before we ever advance in civilization on another planet we need to learn a few lessons of wisdom and efficiency. One being to stop killing each other and depleting our natural resources with little attempts at LEGAL free renewable Energy. Before moving on to another place,we must first learn to harness the technologies of renewable free energy with as minor a carbon footprint as possible,only then should we move on to adding our ways of life to other planets. Earth has suffered tremendously from our Wars trials and efforts.

    We're all for recycling however we have no idea what to do when our concrete jungles are no longer inhabitable other than to build else where. I don't like to say this, because it seems an elitist type standpoint but we seem as a planetary cancer. With poor attention to the damage control we keep seeking newer areas when we cant even care for what we have. Humanity is not a cancer and we can be a much better impact on the places we inhabit but money is the number one factor that drives our race and so long as that is the case, caution to impact will never be a primary goal. The US has no right at this time to say what is allowed on the moon or any other planet. The US isn't earth as a whole it should be a decision made by the world not US. Congress to say what happens in the frontier of space.

  2. 2

    We've NEVER had usable amounts of helium-3 on earth. I think there is absolutely no science behind this article. It's just a puff piece of made up news.

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