Private company Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx) just got clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation for a flight to the Moon.
So far, only USA, China and URSS have sent men and/or vehicles on the moon.
Their goal is to land a rover on the moon by 2017, deadline of the famous Google X Lunar prize (international competition lead by Google to land a vehicle on Moon grounds by private founds).
In the immediate future they think about mining the moon for rare elements, metals and then water as its CEO & Co-Foundersays “The recent discovery of water on the Moon is an economic game changer for humanity’s future. Water is the oil of the solar system, and the Moon has become a gas station in the sky“.
Since President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act bill (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2262) guaranteeing private companies to bring back to earth any resources found in space, the Moon could become our 8th continent.
Moon Express doesn’t have its capsule yet, named MX-1, but already has a strong partnership with startup Rocket Lab for their rocket.
It’s a huge achievement for any non governmental spaceflight company, and it gives hope for any other private outfits willing to explore the universe. Regulations like this are very important to company like SpaceX in their goal of landing on Mars by 2018.