Jain Optimistic About Flying to Moon on Rocket Lab’s Electron “or Some Other Rocket”

Naveen Jain

Moon Express’s Naveen Jain is optimistic his company and the Rocket Lab will be ready to fly to the moon by the end of the year n an attempt to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

Moon Express is building a lander and hopper in an effort to win the $20 million first prize. Rocket Lab is hoping to launch the maiden flight of its Electron booster as early as Tuesday.

As it stands today, Jain’s space company appears to be the private-industry leader in the race to reach the Moon….

Jain notes Moon Express—not Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, or Blue Origin—remains the only company to secure all the necessary permissions from the US government to launch beyond low-Earth orbit toward the Moon. And in January, his co-founder (and current CEO) Bob Richards announced the company fully hit its funding goals as well. However, the team has yet to solidify the third component for its success. Moon Express secured an initial flight contract with Rocket Lab, another US space company with a subsidiary in New Zealand. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, however, has yet to even run a test launch.

Fear not, Jain says. If that vehicle doesn’t look to be panning out in time, he indicates Moon Express will look for workable alternatives without hesitation.

“We are completely ready to go for the end of this year,” Jain says. “And I believe Rocket Lab will be, too. I believe, by the end of the year, they will have done four or five tests by the time we go. But just to be clear, we are not married to any rocket. That means we could be using a Launcher One from Virgin Galactic, if it is ready. We could be using SpaceX. We could be using some other rocket.”

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  • JamesG

    lol @ ArsTechnica.

  • Aerospike

    and lol @ That means we could be using a Launcher One from Virgin Galactic, if it is ready.

  • savuporo

    What other rocket pray tell ? It’s not quite like you can order those on a website quite yet, takes a bit of planning

  • windbourne

    Spacex is finally looking better. If they continue doing 2 launches / month with 2 pads, by next year, they will have at least 3, if not all 4 going.
    At that time, they will probably be able to launch weekly and actually launch on short notice.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Well if Moon Express achieves TLI with their spacecraft, that will be a historic accomplishment in itself, safe moon landing or no.

  • JamesG

    There is a legion of ifs that proceed that if first.

  • JamesG

    Uh… no. because the biggest bottleneck isn’t with SX or its launch rate, it is with the primary payload owner. They would have to be fine with ridesharing with an unproven volatiles carrying vehicle and have not closed out all the manifesting work that has to be done, integration, weight and balance, etc. etc. and I doubt ME can afford that (or their F9). Right now ME would probably have to go a year or two at least into SX’s order book to find someone willing to share their Falcon with them.

  • Charles Lurio

    It would be quite an accomplishment to get into the SpaceX schedule before the end of the year when the Israeli entry has already passed beyond that date. Of course, the latter is linked to “Spaceflight, Inc.’s” payloads schedule so the situation may be different. OTOH…there is really very little time in any case.

    I’m glad ME is trying to get some ride or other before the end of the year, but they’ve always emphasized that their business case doesn’t depend on winning the GLXP.