Moon Express Unveils Model of Moon Ship

Moon Express held a press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday to unveil a model of a spacecraft it plans to land on the moon by the end of the year.

According to media reports, CEO Bob Richards said the company has raised $45 million from investors to send the MX-1E lander to the lunar surface.

The vehicle would complete a mission involving various payloads and then lift off from the moon and travel at least 500 meters to claim the $20 million grand prize in the Google Lunar X Prize.

Richards showed no hardware for the MX-1E, but he said the flight model should be completed in September.

The spacecraft is set to launch aboard a Rocket Lab Electron booster. The maiden flight of the new launch vehicle failed to reach orbit in May from its launch site in New Zealand.

Rocket Lab has said it has determined the cause of the failure. The company is planning two additional flight tests in the coming months.

The MX-1E spacecraft would be the first of three missions to the moon the company would launch over the next three years. The third lander would include a system to return a soil sample from the lunar surface.

Richards said all three missions are fully funded.