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Naveen Jain's Moon Express to mine the Moon

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 10:36 AM
Washington, March 12, 2015: Moon Express, a California-based aerospace company co-founded by Indian-American billionaire Naveen Jain, aims to send the first commercial robotic spacecraft to the moon next year as part of a NASA lunar initiative.

Moon Express, which earlier this year became the first company to successfully test a prototype of a lunar lander, is planning a series of other tests later this year to pave the way for sending its lander to the moon in 2016, Jain told NBC News.

The lander's first mission is a one-way trip, meaning that it's not designed to travel back to the Earth, he said.

"The purpose is to show that for the first time, a company has developed the technology to land softly on the moon," Jain was quoted as saying. "Landing on the moon is not the hard part. Landing softly is the hard part."

Looking ahead 15 or 20 years, Jain told NBC News, he envisions a day when the moon is used as a sort of way station enabling easier travel for exploration to other planets.

In the meantime, he said the lander's second and third missions could likely involve bringing precious metals, minerals and even moon rocks back to Earth.

"Today, people look at diamonds as this rare thing on Earth," Jain said.

He added: "Imagine telling someone you love her by giving her the moon."

Moon Express conducted its tests with the support of NASA engineers as part of its lunar initiative - known as Catalyst - designed to spur new commercial US capabilities to reach the moon and tap into its considerable resources.

"Clearly, NASA has an amazing amount of expertise when it comes to getting to the moon, and it wants to pass that knowledge on to a company like ours that has the best chance of being successful," Jain was quoted as saying.

Jain, who also founded Internet companies Infospace and Intelius, said the moon holds precious metals and rare minerals that can be brought back to help address Earth's energy, health and resource challenges.
Agency: IANS

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