In the wake of the last Space Shuttle landing from NASA, here is an interesting news article entitled “Race to the moon heats up for private firms” from The Salt Lake Tribune, that offers hope for prospective space travelers.
Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the moon. Most of them are unlikely to overcome the financial and technical challenges to meet the contest deadline of December 2015, but several teams think they have a good shot to win — and to take an early lead in a race to take commercial advantage of our celestial neighbor.
One Silicon Valley venture, Moon Express, is positioning itself as a future FedEx for moon deliveries: If you have something to send there, they would like to bring it. The company planned a party Thursday night to show off the flight capabilities of its lunar lander, a prototype it bought from NASA.
Another competitor, Astrobotic Technology, intends to sell berths on its lunar lander to space agencies and scientific institutions, which would pay $820,000 a pound to send up their experiments. The company, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University, is building a large craft — much bigger than Moon Express’ — capable of carrying 240 pounds of payload (read: $200 million of cargo) and hopes to be ready to launch in December 2013.
Read more at the link above. Here is a link to the Google Lunar X Prize page showing a list of the competing teams.
While governments are going broke and economies are crumbling, it is actually heart warming to see private companies enter the space race. Free enterprise is the only way conceivable where ordinary citizen may in the future be given a chance to fly to space. Just as in the case of the airline industry where flying was once only possible for the rich and powerful. More power to private space companies.