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Moon Space

Moon Express Signs Launch Contract For Possible First Private Lunar Landing 73

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Space.com, Moon Express, one of the leading contestants in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, has made a giant leap toward its goal of being the first private group to land on the moon. The company has signed a contract with Rocket Lab, a new launch company based in New Zealand, for five launches of its upcoming Electron rocket. The first two launches will take place in 2017 and will be attempts to land the MX-1 lander on the lunar surface in time to win the prize by the current deadline by the end of that year.
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Moon Express Signs Launch Contract For Possible First Private Lunar Landing

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  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday October 02, 2015 @01:19PM (#50645973)

    No, they won't.

    Why? Because first launches *never* happen on time...

    • I dunno... Bob Richards has been in the Space biz for a long time, and probably has a good eye for TRL's. But even if Rocket Lab isn't ready by 2017, MoonEx might be able to find an alternate launch provider. Remember, there's a fairly good chance that SpaceX could turn the entire launch market upside-down in a few weeks, if/when (fingers crossed) they "stick the landing" on their next F9 launch. In any case, I don't think MoonEx's chances of winning the GLXP will be limited by Rocket Lab's schedule, there

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      I question the electric turbopumps. In many ways it makes building the rocket much simpler but the performance hit will be brutal.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        I question the electric turbopumps. In many ways it makes building the rocket much simpler but the performance hit will be brutal.

        For many uses, performance doesn't matter, except to the extent that it increases costs. Fuel is cheap, fuel tanks are relatively cheap, rocket engines are expensive.... so reducing the cost of the engines can easily compensate for having to burn more fuel.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          The more fuel you burn the more you have to lift the more you have to lift the more you have to burn......

          • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

            The more fuel you burn the more you have to lift the more you have to lift the more you have to burn......

            You didn't even read my post, did you?

            Let me repeat:

            Fuel is cheap. Fuel tanks are cheap.
            Engines are expensive.
            Trading cheaper engines for more fuel can save $$$$$.

            Get it now?

            • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

              No you do not get it it.
              The more weight they more fuel you have to carry which is more weight. To life more weight you must add more thrust which means more engines which means more weight and more fuel.
              You can not just keep adding more tanks and fuel you must then add more engines because it takes more thrust to lift the fuel and tanks which means you burn more fuel and need more tanks and so and so on.
              In the end you will have a Saturn V that puts 200Kg in LEO.

    • Because first launches *never* happen on time...

      They'll launch on time. For manned missions, you need six nines (99.9999%) reliability. But this is an unmanned mission, so even 99% is "good enough", especially when a delay will mean forfeiting the $20M X-Prize.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        For manned missions, you need six nines (99.9999%) reliability.

        That'll be why the space shuttle broke up and killed its crew about 1.5% of the time.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, it would be why they finally retired the space shuttle, yes.

          Prior to Challenger they had a 100% safety rating, and prior to Columbia the single instance of failure wan't enough to extrapolate a trend. Also orbiters not named with a capital "C" still have a 100% safety rating.

        • by paiute ( 550198 )

          For manned missions, you need six nines (99.9999%) reliability.

          That'll be why the space shuttle broke up and killed its crew about 1.5% of the time.

          That's 99.9999% reliability for each component times a million components.

  • by rossdee ( 243626 )

    "launch company based in New Zealand,"

    Isn't New Zealand a bit far south to be taking advantage of the spin of the earth for launching rockets?

    At least for the moon you want to be closer to the equator I thought

  • Maybe they're planning to collect?

  • This will NOT happen. As well, it will be many many many years before man sets foot on Mars (lack of compelling reasons, money, technology...)

  • I doubt it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Friday October 02, 2015 @02:35PM (#50646629)

    I'll be shocked and astounded if this actually ever takes place.

    A Moon shot is a hell of trick to pull off, even getting into orbit is beyond the capability of most countries, let alone transit to the Moon.

    Space travel is hard; it's expensive, it's complex, and space is probably the most unforgiving environment imaginable.

    Color me skeptical; I don't think this is going to happen via private industry for another 20 to 50 years at the very least.

    I'd be overjoyed to be wrong, though! :)

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Color me skeptical; I don't think this is going to happen via private industry for another 20 to 50 years at the very least.

      A moon shot is only marginally more difficult if at all than a GEO satellite. Or for that matter a Mars shot, it's just a slightly longer rocket burn. The difficult part is what the fsck do you do when you're in orbit, it's the descent/landing that is challenging. That SpaceX can land rockets is obviously to save costs here on Earth but it's also to fill a major gap in our capability to go to Mars. I don't think a dedicated lander will ever get sufficient private funding, a spin-off technology of landing ro

    • Google maps duh.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday October 02, 2015 @02:58PM (#50646831)

    That seems limited - it shows a lack of vision. They need to THINK BIG.

    I think the company should be called Planet Express. I even have some thoughts regarding what their ships might look like [wikipedia.org].

  • I feel like I am watching a real life play out of Rocket Ship Galileo sometimes.
  • The last probe we sent spotted a whale just laying out on the surface! That's free gold for the taking if we send whalers there!

  • This would be a much more exciting posting if they were contracting with a company who had already made successful launches.

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