Private company wins U.S. clearance to fly to the moon..North Korea is going as well!
A Florida-based company won U.S. government permission on Wednesday to send a robotic lander to the moon next year, the firm’s founder said, marking the first time the United States has cleared a private space mission to fly beyond Earth’s orbit.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s unprecedented go-ahead for the Moon Express mission also sets a legal and regulatory framework for a host of other commercial expeditions to the moon, asteroids and Mars.
As approved by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, the privately held Moon Express, headquartered in Cape Canaveral, plans to fly a suitcase-sized lander to the moon for a two-week mission in 2017, said the company founder and chief executive Bob Richards.
The spacecraft will carry a number of science experiments and some commercial cargo on its one-way trip to the lunar surface, including cremated human remains, and will beam back pictures and video to Earth, the company said.
Before now, no government agency was recognized as having authority to oversee private missions beyond Earth’s orbit, though a 1967 international treaty holds the United States responsible for any flights into space by its non-government entities.
So far, only government agencies have flown spacecraft beyond the orbit of the Earth.
To address the conundrum, the FAA, which already exercises jurisdiction over commercial rocket launches in the United States, led an interagency review of the Moon Express proposal, which included steps the company would take to ensure compliance with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
“It’s been a very steep mountain,” Richards said in a telephone interview. “We had to lay the track at the same time that we wanted to do the mission.”
Other companies are expected to soon follow the same framework.
Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of Space Exploration Technologies, plans to fly a spacecraft to Mars in 2018, a mission that raises a host of issues dealing with protecting potential indigenous life on the planet from contamination by Earth microbes.
Among other private space ventures in the works are missions to mine asteroids, operate science labs and repair and service satellites.
Moon Express, or MoonEx, is an American privately held early stage company formed by a group of Silicon Valley and space entrepreneurs, with the goal of winning the Google Lunar X Prize, and ultimately mining the Moon for natural resources of economic value.
North Korea has flipped two fingers at US sanctions and boldly proclaimed they will plant the republic’s flag on the Moon in the next ten years.
The rogue state also announced they are developing satellites with spying capabilities as part of an ambitious space program that will concern Washington and its allies.
Pyongyang’s ambitions are not to be sniffed at either, according to a space and satellite expert interviewed by The Independent.
“It would be a significant increase in technology, not one that is beyond them,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told the paper.
North Korea is heavily invested in its space program and developing rocket and long-range missile technology, which has led to the West imposing sanctions on the state.
“Even though the US and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon,” said Hyon Kwang Il, director of the republic’s equivalent of NASA.
“No matter what anyone thinks, our country will launch more satellites,” Hyon told Associated Press.
Hyon said North Korea aspired to exploration of the moon and other planets.
thanks to xxx for the link..
moonex..but not with humans eh?
check that company out..
“The Federal Aviation Administration’s unprecedented go-ahead for the Moon Express mission also sets a legal and regulatory framework for a host of other commercial expeditions to the moon, asteroids and Mars.”
and the north koreans are going as well!
“”Even though the US and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon,”
dont hold your breath..