From building rockets to commercial satellites launches, private companies closely follow the government plans into space. The new challenge is the private moon exploration. Moon Express is waiting for its first space trip approval.
The company’s plans are to land on the lunar surface in a first recognition mission. The final goal is to create economic benefits out of space travels.
Up until now, the business scenarios involve mining asteroids, creating energy facilities on the moon, or transforming asteroids into food and energy supply points for spacecraft.
The scientific adviser for Moon Express is Paul Spudis, a senior scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The experts says that probably there will not be an immediate gain from the space exploration business, which means companies must show a lot of patience and must accept the necessity of long-term investments.
One of the interests in private moon landings will be assessing the possibility of using the moon as an energy and supply station, which may be useful in the case of longer trips in the space.
“We’re going to use the material and energy resources of the Moon to create new space faring capability,” Paul Spudis explained.
In the context of having private companies collecting information from space, the government faces a new dilemma. It is not yet clear if the data obtained should be considered private property or public domain property.
On the other hand, companies could very well gain information from space and keep it to themselves.
At the moment, the government will still be involved in the missions, regarding funding and know-how, and it will also probably have representatives in the mission teams. The cooperation would add balance to the information control, and for the time being collected information will be considered public domain.
Things might change when private companies are able to complete a space mission completely independent. Experts do not think the moment will come very soon, because of the massive funding needed and of the solid science involved.
As for the current plans to exploit moon’s resources, scientists say this venture may not be as complicated as it seems. The technology of creating water in space is something that can be easily set in place.
Scientists say that there is a possibility to use the materials on the moon in order to create supplies for crew members and spacecraft. Researchers explore the option of creating a 3D printing device, a nuclear power plant and to create water.
Companies like Moon Express will strongly depend on government funding.
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