Moon Express Closes $2.5 Million Bridge Financing, Secures $10 Million Lead Investor for Series B Round

CHICAGO, October 1, 2018 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express has announced the successful closing of a $2.5M bridge round and the opening of a $20M Series B round anchored by a $10M lead investor. Proceeds of the financing will support the build out of the company’s Cape Canaveral facilities as well as spacecraft development for its commercial lunar flight program.

Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards made the announcement during a closing keynote at The World Innovation Network (TWIN) Global Summit in Chicago. “We are at the dawn of an exciting new era of lunar exploration and development,” he stated to the international TWIN Global audience. “We’re excited about the new U.S. space policy to return to the Moon in a sustainable way with commercial partners and we look forward to working with NASA and other space agencies in exploring Earth’s eighth continent.”

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NASA Releases New Plan for Return to Moon & Trips to Mars

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In December of 2017, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-1, in which the president directed NASA “to lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”

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Life at the Lab: Coming in for Landing

Video Caption: Wishing you had a driverless car or plane? NASA Langley is developing navigational radar sensor technology to use during future space missions. The sensors can also help make autonomous vehicles more efficient on Earth.

CubeRover to Develop Next Generation Planetary Rovers in Luxembourg

CubeRover on the lunar surface. (Credit: CubeRover)

CubeRover Platform to Revolutionize Lunar Access and Capability for Companies, Governments, Universities, and Non-Profits

LUXEMBOURG CITY, Luxembourg, September 27, 2018 (CubeRover PR) — CubeRover SARL (CubeRover) and Luxembourg announce today the agreement for the development of next-generation planetary rovers in Luxembourg.

This historic agreement marks the establishment of CubeRover’s operations in the Grand Duchy as a spin out organization from Astrobotic Technology, Inc. (Astrobotic), a space robotics company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

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NASA: Landing Men & Women on the Moon Before the Next Decade is Out

Credit: NASA

NASA has released the National Space Exploration Campaign Report that had been mandated by Congress. It commits the United States to building a human-tended Lunar Gateway beginning in 2023 and returning humans to the moon’s surface by the end of the 2020’s.

The plan is to build a sustainable architecture for lunar exploration that is open to commercial and international partners. NASA would use the exploration campaign to test out technologies for sending astronauts to Mars.

Below are key excerpts from the report.

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ispace to Launch Lunar Missions on SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020, 2021

Latest HAKUTO-R Lander and Rover design. (Credit: ispace)

TOKYO, September 26, 2018 (ispace PR) – ispace, a company developing robotics for lunar delivery and resource exploration, announced today that SpaceX will be the launch provider for its maiden voyages to the Moon scheduled for 2020 and 2021. The company’s first two lunar missions will be carried out under the program name HAKUTO-R, standing for “Reboot”, a reference to ispace’s management of HAKUTO, a Google Lunar XPRIZE competition finalist.

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Rogozin: Russia Won’t Play Second Fiddle on Lunar Gateway

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin does not appear to be a fan of the planned Lunar Gateway.

During his meeting with young people, Rogozin said that a lunar program was the peak of the world space powers’ scientific efforts.

“The United States is developing their program called Deep Space Gateway. They have been suggesting our participation in that program, but believe it is theirs,” Rogozin said. “It is such a great American national program but everybody must take part in it.”

Rogozin said he did not like the idea “very much”, since “Russia simply cannot afford to take a back seat in foreign projects” and added that Russia was developing “its own transport system.”

The remarks caused some consternation that Russia was going to pull out of the NASA-led international venture. Roscosmos Spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko denied the report, saying talks remain underway on Russia’s participation in the project.

Astrobotic and RIS4E Demonstrate Technologies to Explore Extreme Lunar Environments

Astrobotic is developing navigation technologies to allow free-flying spacecraft to explore subterranean environments on the Moon, such as lava tubes. (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)  As America prepares to return to the surface of the Moon, Astrobotic Technology is partnering with scientists from the RIS4E node of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), led by Stony Brook University, to demonstrate the robotic technologies needed to explore and study our nearest neighbor’s most interesting and challenging destinations.

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Japanese Billionaire is Passenger on SpaceX BFR Moon Flight

Yusaku Maezawa at SpaceX headquarters. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa was introduced on Monday as the customer for SpaceX’s planned circumlunar flight aboard the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).

The 42-year old billionaire, who founded the clothing company Zozo (www.zozo.com) and collects high-priced art, said he plans to invited six to eight artists on the trip who would create works of art after returning home. The passengers could include painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, writers and fashion designers.

Musk praised Maezawa as brave to take the flight. “This is dangerous, let’s be clear,” Musk warned. “This is no walk in the park.”

Maezawa’s flight is tentatively scheduled to occur in 2023. SpaceX Founder Elon Musk admitted he was not sure of the date because BFR is still under development.

Musk said Maezawa made a significant deposit on the expensive voyage around the moon. The funds will help fund the development and testing of the reusable rocket/spacecraft, which Musk estimated will cost $5 billion.

Maezawa is calling his flight Dear Moon and has established a website, dearmoon.earth. The flight’s Twitter handle is @dearmoonmission.

New Artist’s Conceptions of SpaceX’s BFR in Flight Released

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk and SpaceX have tweeted some new artist conceptions of the BFR in flight.

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

Musk tweeted that there is now a “forward moving wing” near the nose.

BFR in flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

The announcement of the first passenger signed for a trip around the moon aboard BFR will be webcast tonight at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT) from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

How NASA Goddard Tests Tools Astronauts Will Use to Explore Distant Worlds

Kelsey E. Young, a geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who helps develop space-exploration tools, is using the handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to investigate lava flow chemistry at Valentine Cave at Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake, California. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

When astronauts land again on the surface of another world, their limited resources will allow for a short window of time each day to explore their new surroundings. Instruments designed to quickly reveal the terrain’s chemistry and form will help them understand the environments around them and how they change over time.

To protect precious hours available for extraterrestrial scientific investigations, a team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland — the Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT) — is testing and refining the chemical-analyzing and land-surveying tools that will assist future human explorers of places like the Moon and Mars.

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5 Hazards of Human Spaceflight

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A human journey to Mars, at first glance, offers an inexhaustible amount of complexities. To bring a mission to the Red Planet from fiction to fact, NASA’s Human Research Program has organized hazards astronauts will encounter on a continual basis into five classifications. Pooling the challenges into categories allows for an organized effort to overcome the obstacles that lay before such a mission. However, these hazards do not stand alone. They can feed off one another and exacerbate effects on the human body. These hazards are being studied using ground-based analogs, laboratories, and the International Space Station, which serves as a test bed to evaluate human performance and countermeasures required for the exploration of space.

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New Coalition Formed to Revive Canadian Space Program


A new coalition of industry, academic and interest groups has launched  a campaign called Don’t Let Go Canada in an effort to bolster the Canadian space program.

“While other countries have been increasing their investments in space, Canada has fallen from 8th place in 1992 to 18th place (% of GDP), and hasn’t had a long-term plan to guide Canada’s investments for decades,” the group said on its website.

“The economic stakes of space participation are higher than ever. The global space market is worth over USD $380B today; analysts forecast it will grow to be a multi-trillion-dollar market in coming decades,” the website states. “Ambitious governments are staking their claims. Luxembourg plans to be the leading country in space mining; the UK aims to capture 10 percent of the global space market by 2030.”

Among the members of the coalition are MDA, Honeywell, Magellan Aerospace, ABB, AIAC, Neptec, Canadian Space Society, Canadian Astronautics and Space Institute, and The Planetary Society. A full list of members is on the organization’s website.

The group is calling for a properly funded, long-term Canadian Space Strategy to guide the nation’s efforts. One pressing concern is a decision on whether Canada will participate in the U.S.-led Lunar Gateway program, which will place a human-tended station in orbit around the moon.

SpaceX to Reveal First Passenger for BFR Circum-lunar Flight on Monday


HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle – an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space.

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history. No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972. Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17 at 6pm PT.

Editor’s Note: SpaceX announced in February 2017 to send two people around the moon aboard a modified Crew Dragon spacecraft using a Falcon Heavy booster.  The two individuals had already paid significant deposits toward the flight, which was to have taken place late this year.

In Febraury 2018, Musk announced that he had scrapped plans to use the Falcon Heavy and Crew Dragon. Instead, the BFR would be used for the cicum-lunar flyby. Musk said earlier this year that BFR could be ready for flights beyond Earth orbit in 2022.