The story of men going the moon will be confusing to future historians. It began in 1960, when President Kennedy triumphantly challenged NASA to perform the unthinkable in ten years’ time: A person walking on the moon. Nine years later, Neil Armstrong strolled on the lunar surface. Four more times, Americans would venture 252,088 treacherous miles and again set foot on the moon. Then, in 1972 everything suddenly stopped and no human has returned since. That is until entrepreneur Naveen Jain made his stunning announcement earlier this week.
“Moon Express now has all the capital it needs to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon,” Jain told CNBC. “It will be in November or December.” Wow! While the news is exciting, let's look deeper. Moon Express is not planning a manned expedition this year. In fact, the small robotic spacecraft that will land on the moon is about the size of a dishwasher. Nonetheless, this event is more than one small step for mankind, it’s a giant leap for future exploration.
See, if all goes to plan, Moon Express plans to offer trip to the moon for people by the year 2026. Think of it! It will be the ultimate Bucket-List experience! To accomplish this, Jain is teaming up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. “It’s very complimentary as a matter of fact,” Naveen explained. “Elon will build the rockets and we will do the rovers.” They even have the legal go-ahead for their project: The US Federal Aviation Administration gave them permission.
You’re probably wondering: Isn’t going to be really expensive? Who will foot the bill? For starters, Naveen is sure to win the $20 million in Google’s Lunar XPrize Competition. (This reward is for the first private company to land a capsule on the moon and send back HD images to Google Maps.) Nice, but this huge operation will take billions…not millions…to fund. To secure this capital, the billionaire simply plans to mine the moon. Apparently, there are gold and platinum deposits galore on the lunar surface...as well as Helium-3, a clear and non-radioactive fuel
Wow! These are some pretty far-fetched plans. Naveen is a dreamer and he is clearly following them. While they are impressive, it is interesting to compare the motivation for the lunar expeditions of the 1960’s and today. The Apollo missions were federally funded and intended for the betterment of science and humankind. Today, we care little about silly, lofty ideals and instead have financial ambitions. We plan to use the natural resources of the moon to make people back on earth more wealthy. Sigh. We here at the DUNER BLOG would like a little more research and little less exploitation.