Moon Express to Locate Test Operations in Florida

An artist illustration of the Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander on its mission to the moon. (Credit: Moon Express)
An artist illustration of the Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander on its mission to the moon. (Credit: Moon Express)

Florida Today reports on Moon Express relocating part of its operations to Florida:

Silicon Valley-based Moon Express tomorrow will announce plans to sign a five-year lease with Space Florida to base its propulsion and test flight operations at Launch Complex 36, the site of former Atlas pads that launched NASA spacecraft to the moon and Mars.

The announcement comes several months after the privately-funded company began testing a small, doughnut-shaped spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle runway, a precursor to the vehicle it hopes will capture the Google Lunar XPRIZE….

An initial group of 25 to 50 employees will include some relocating from the company’s headquarters at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, and an office in Huntsville, Alabama. Among them is Tim Pickens, lead designer of the engine for SpaceShipOne, the first privately developed craft to put people in space in 2004.

They will also include local hires, potentially building up to a team of 100 or 200 employees here, ranging from machine shop workers to spacecraft engineers….

The state agency recently approved spending $250,000 to match Moon Express’ first investment in facility upgrades at Launch Complex 36, one of two state-run pads on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, that Richards said over time could top $10 million.