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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U.S. Government Approves Moon Express Lunar Landing

Bob Richards, co-founder and CE) of Moon Express Inc., of Moffett Field, California, speaks to the media Nov. 3 at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. To the left of Richards is Greg Chavers, Lander Technologies project manager at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)
Bob Richards, co-founder and CE) of Moon Express Inc., of Moffett Field, California, speaks to the media Nov. 3 at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. To the left of Richards is Greg Chavers, Lander Technologies project manager at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Moon Express PR) — For the first time in the history of space travel, a private enterprise will leave this world to explore another

The U.S. Government has made a historic ruling to allow the first private enterprise, Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon’s valuable resources.

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Google Lunar X Prize Update: Funding Remains an Issue

MTV-1X vehicle in full tether mode. (Credit: Moon Express)
MTV-1X vehicle in full tether mode. (Credit: Moon Express)

The IEEE Spectrum has an interesting update on the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, which recently slipped its deadline for landing a rover on the moon from the end of 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016.

The story confirms what I’ve suspected for quite some time now: it’s much easier to build and test hardware on Earth than it is to get it to the lunar surface. With two years, not one of the 18 remaining teams has locked down a firm launch date. If none of them does by the end of 2015, the competition will end without a winner.

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Moon Express Opens Propulsion Development Facility in Huntsville

tim_pickens_portrait
Tim Pickens

Mountain View, CA, July 16, 2013 (ME PR) — Moon Express, Inc., a lunar resource company, today announced the opening of a Propulsion Development Facility in Huntsville, Alabama that will be key to landing the world’s first commercial spacecraft on the Moon.

The announcement was made by rocket pioneer Tim Pickens, who joined Moon Express as the company’s Chief Propulsion Engineer earlier this year. Pickens made the announcement at the 2013 AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference in San Jose, California, revealing that the company has already successfully met several milestones in its propulsion development plans, including:

  • Successfully test firing a “green” 400 pound demo rocket engine, demonstrating the new test facility checkout, as well as testing engine performance, deep throttling, and efficiency
  • Developing new mono-prop and bi-prop propulsion systems for the Moon Express lander that range in thrust classes from 0.1-1000 pound thrust
  • Investments into new local capabilities including design, fabrication, and remote hot fire test capabilities for “Green” propulsion systems

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GLXP News: Moon Express Appoints Science Advisory Board

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 24, 2012 (ME PR) — Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that some of the world’s leading planetary scientists have joined its Science Advisory Board (SAB) to assist the company in its plans to explore and ultimately mine the Moon for precious planetary resources.

Moon Express Chief Scientist and former NASA Associate Administrator in charge of all the Agency’s science, Dr. Alan Stern, selected the advisory board of internationally recognized leaders within the lunar science community. The Moon Express SAB includes:

  • Dr. Jack Burns/University of Colorado: NASA Lunar Science Institute (NSLI) Node PI, Astronomer & former Chair of the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee
  • Dr. Randy Korotev/Washington University: Lunar Geochemist
  • Dr. Steve Mackwell/LPI: Head, Lunar and PIanetary Institute (LPI)
  • Dr. Wendell Mendell/LPI: Lunar Generalist, Exploration Expert & former Chief, NASA Office for Lunar & Planetary Exploration for Constellation
  • Dr. Clive Neal/U. of Notre Dame: Chair, NASA Lunar Exploration Advisory Group

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Moon Express Leadership Includes Leading Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs

Bob Richards’ lunar startup, Moon Express, emerged from five months in stealth mode on Monday to announce the involvement of two — count ’em, two — prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in its effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

Naveen Jain announced during the annualExplorers Clube Awards Dinner in New York that he co-founded Moon Express with Richards and serves as the chairman of Moon Express. In a separate announcement, the California-based comp;any also revealed that Barney Pell is Barney Pell will serve as co-founder, vice-chairman and chief technology officer.

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