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Moon Space

Moon Express Unveils Next Moon Lander 79

Posted by timothy
from the it's-mine-all-mine dept.
Velcroman1 writes "A U.S. spacecraft hasn't made a controlled landing on the moon since Apollo 17 left the lunar surface on Dec. 14, 1972. That's about to change. Moon Express will unveil the MX-1 spacecraft at the Autodesk University show in Las Vegas Thursday evening — a micro-spacecraft that will in 2015 mark the first U.S. 'soft' landing since the days of the Apollo program, FoxNews.com has learned. The craft looks for all the world like a pair of donuts wearing an ice cream cone, and the tiny vehicle clearly isn't big enough for a human being. But it is big enough to scoop up some rocks and dirt, store them in an internal compartment, and return it to Earth. After all, the moondirt Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin once trod holds a king's ransom of titanium, platinum, and other rare elements. Moon Express plans to mine it."
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Moon Express Unveils Next Moon Lander

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  • All right, then... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:42PM (#45614191)

    Nice Slashvert for a "company" that has no hope in hell of doing anything near "mining the moon", though I'm sure that between grants and people that want to lose their money, the "leadership" will do very well for themselves. Seriously, these people are going to *try* and land a small beacon on the moon, and this is some proof of concept that they can mine valuable resources and fly them back? In any case, the Chinese are well on their way to this goal with both the technical knowledge to get there and the moo-la to do it first and claim most of the surface, long before these people figure out how to turn a small immobile beacon with an inner-tube for landing gear, into a machine that can mine resources and return them to Earth. Seriously, sounds like an MIT engineering grad student project, putting it in the same frame as Apollo 17 is a stretch.

    But it is big enough to scoop up some rocks and dirt, store them in an internal compartment, and return it to Earth.

    Return to Earth? Sure it will. And if it does, with what? A pound if that? Even a few pounds? Again, the Chinese will be there shuvelling ore into huge return crafts way before - er - long after these people move on to some other grad school project.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      China has the technical knowledge to profitably mine the moon? They're well on their way? Just the thought is ridiculous.

      The most important discovery related to bringing back huge returns crafts full of ore from the moon is the immense energy requirement. China doesn't have Mr. Fusion machines developed yet.

      And China is about to claim most of the surface of the moon? Are you reading dystopian science fiction, or how do you possibly rationalize this?

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Don't need near as much energy to return as to get there. Has little to do with distance or load - it'a all about time and delta-v and relative sizes of gravity wells.

        Quibble: I'm old enough such that the plural of conveyances on or under water, in air or space, is craft. I first saw the plural "aircraft" around age six, and in sixty years have never had difficulty discerning singular and plural from context. YMMV, of course. I find it as idiotic a practice as with a youth selling me binoculars describ

    • um, do you work for the chinese govt or otherwise have some special knowledge? even with open books to the chinese govt, do you have expertise to evaluate their capabilities?

      i'm not knocking what they've accomplished, but it isn't anything better than the US did 40 years ago.

    • Funny they, like that other [wikipedia.org] two companies [wikipedia.org] doing some sort of space mining, they advertise the brains of the operation vs the tech....like an old established corporation. And each site is like a resume platform--where's the concept art, approach, tech, overviews, schedule? Just cheesy high level art work.

      The tech is what going to get you there, like there's competition to steal it.. yeah right. Come on it's rocket science, we know it hard to reproduce.

      I just feel a bit weird (Vegas announcement, TFA sources

    • Claiming the moon is going to be a lot like claiming North America was 400 years ago... you have to do more than plant a flag to hold territory, you'll have to be making some kind of productive use of the land to hold that claim, and there's a whole lot of moon to go around at the moment.

      As long as the US-China economies are significantly interdependent, neither is likely to do anything arbitrary and capricious like claim the whole moon and start destroying any enterprises from "the other side" based there.

  • by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:50PM (#45614261)

    Outside of being crap it even contains what I would have thought would have killed any article on Slashdot "FoxNews.com has learned."

    How do I down vote an article?!?!?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Umm..the last controlled landing was when Apollo 17 actually landed, not when it left the surface. The landing was December 11th 1972.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:08PM (#45614415)

      Umm..the last controlled landing was when Luna 24 actually landed. The landing was August 18th 1976.

      I suggest you listen to Planetary Radio [planetary.org], a fine source of ~~Random Space Facts!!~~

    • Bah I have been playing lunar lander well into the 1990's

  • Mooned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:53PM (#45614297) Journal

    Senator: "What good is electricity in the house?"

    Engineer: "Senator, in 20 years, you'll be taxing it."

    In time, governments will try to tax and control it, perhaps even stopping colonization or private enterprise, probably even cheered on by some around here who, one presumes, were completely down with Europe looting the New World to feed their governments' voracious appetites for cash, dead-set against any colonies not their own, much less independence.

    • That's a lot of time you're talking about. Government has already shown a lot of trust in private enterprise, do you think 50 years ago we would have let private companies develop high lift capacity ICBMs? Who knows where this will go in the future, during the American Revolution privateers and pirates wielded significant naval power, that's not really the case anymore. I suppose the big question is when will militarization of space start happening (on a significant scale beyond "intelligence gathering."

    • Senator: "What good is electricity in the house?"

      Engineer: "Senator, in 20 years, you'll be taxing it."

      In time, governments will try to tax and control it, perhaps even stopping colonization or private enterprise, probably even cheered on by some around here who, one presumes, were completely down with Europe looting the New World to feed their governments' voracious appetites for cash, dead-set against any colonies not their own, much less independence.

      Huh, what?!?!?! See this. [wikipedia.org] Ownership has been declared and agreed that the moon belongs--literally--to everyone. Unless you want to renegotiate that (good luck, you're gonna need it) or start a very nasty war, mining the moon or colonizing the moon are out. Plus, you'll have protests and backlash the likes of which God has never seen.

  • Titanium (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpaceManFlip (2720507) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:59PM (#45614357)
    is not a rare element - "There is more titanium in the earth's crust than there is nickel, zinc, chromium, tin, lead, mercury, and manganese combined!" http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/titanium/overview.php [csa.com]
    • From the same article: "Supplies of pure titanium are rare", and at $9/lb, it is over 10x the price of Aluminum. http://www.metalprices.com/p/TitaniumFreeChart [metalprices.com]

      Relative value for strength (weight of an aluminum frame vs weight of an equivalently strong titanium frame) is left as an exercise for the bored...

      • Titanium is abundant, but the cost of refining it is high. Various outfits have been working on reducing that cost. If they ever succeed, inexpensive metallic titanium will be nice to have. Goodbye stainless steel, hello titanium. The cost of working (machining, etc.) the stuff will probably still be high since it's a bitch to work with, but stainless steel ain't no picnic either.

  • by bob_super (3391281) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:06PM (#45614403)

    > The craft looks for all the world like a pair of donuts

    I can hear sleeping brits having nightmares. They are "all the world", and that craft is clearly a pair of Doughnuts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:24PM (#45614523)

    "A U.S. spacecraft hasn't made a controlled landing on the moon since Apollo 17 left the lunar surface on Dec. 14, 1972."
    No. This doesn't make sense. You mean:
    "A U.S. spacecraft hasn't made a controlled landing on the moon since Apollo 17 landed on the lunar surface on Dec. 11, 1972."

    • by danbert8 (1024253)

      Unless you consider the astronaut's hopping footsteps to be repeated controlled landings until the last few steps when the left the surface...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they don't have the brains to copyedit their own blurb (their rockets will "break to zero velocity" -- indeed!), how in hell do they expect to do anything?

    • ...their rockets will "break to zero velocity" ...

      It probably makes more sense in Chinese.

  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:35PM (#45614611)

    ... pretty soon no romantic evening will ever look the same anymore.

  • A individual can of peas at your local Wal-Mart spiked 20% overnight because of an increase in fossil fuel prices.

    That individual can of peas was transported along with 5,000 other cans in the same truck, and yet it still was hit with an per unit 20% price increase.

    Will someone please tell me how the fuck mining titanium or even platinum from 385,000 miles away is even remotely worth it? We can't even keep prices at our local grocery store reasonable when bureaucrats decide to raise the price of gas by 20

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:57PM (#45615777) Homepage

      When a 10kg ingot of titanium is shot out of a solar powered linear accelerator on the moon and strategically lands in your bedroom, your surviving friends and relatives will understand the value of mining on the moon.

    • Selling jewelry made of MOON platinum to rich people could be very lucrative.

    • by kermidge (2221646) on Friday December 06, 2013 @04:33AM (#45616871) Journal

      I don't have the assays handy and I'm not an ores or metals guy anyway, but if the various metallic ores on the Moon are of a nature that they'd be easier to smelt and refine that'd be a plus. If mining and refining can be scaled up and use the freely-available solar energy, then the issue boils down to cost of return.

      Using anything from hydrogen-oxygen to mass driver, return of bulk would only need an ablative shield against re-entry. Better might be doing other useful things as well - use the metals to build a tug for LEO, LEO to GEO, and trans-lunar chores, for starters. It really shouldn't take much - a wee bit of imagination (extrapolation, really), some cold hard energy and costs analysis....it's just rocket science with a bit of a twist on materials exploitation.

      Yeah, the food thing. What got me was when a few years back when many retailers made their containers smaller to as to keep price rises less spectacular. The thought of all that re-tooling against turning a wheel on a sticker machine struck me as really messed up.

    • Will someone please tell me how the fuck mining titanium or even platinum from 385,000 miles away is even remotely worth it?

      Realisitically, it's not, at least until we start needing those things in space. Then, it will probably be much more economical to mine and refine such on the moon and then send them where they need to go instead of lifting that material out of Earth's gravity well. In the meantime, the rights to mining on the moon are going to be the big prize in anticipation of that time.

  • God Speed.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday December 06, 2013 @04:26AM (#45616851) Homepage

    FoxNews.com has learned.

    Oh, shit. How long before it becomes self-aware?

  • All the moon are belong to us. All intruders will be strung up with soup.

    Signed,

    The Clangers
    http://www.clangers.com/ [clangers.com]

    P.S. we have a dragon, and a chicken and are not afraid to use them.

  • Isn't "Moon Express" the name of the Chinese take-out place around the corner?

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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