The first private moon landing could be as soon as this year or as far as two years away (which isn’t really that far!) Next Gas – 239,000 miles – that’s what they used to say when heading to the Moon, but now? Who knows, we could be manufacturing some right there on the moon in no time!
Think about the things that we deemed ‘had to haves’ before realizing having a human colony on the Moon. It was important to have reusable rocket ships AND that they not be airplanes, like the shuttles, but rockets with legs that can be landed on. AND SO – enter Elon Musk. Probably no one else has done more for the betterment of mankind as it relates to space than Elon Musk.
It is no secret that governments have been trying to design a rocket that would not only cost less because of its reusability, but could claim TRUE reusability in landing the parts that previously were shed to the various junk orbitals, would come down to Earth and await their next turn. Yes, governments tried, but it was an individual who succeeded. Besides taking incredible amounts of skill the sheer belief held by a billionaire inventor who knew he would usher in the age of private space exploration. (By the way, even cooler, I see him playing a part in Mars as well!) Elon isn’t the only successful space firms of late, just the top one; but there are plenty around, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Moon Express, and still more. (Deep Space Industries, Space Resopources….)
Think of Elon’s Falcon 9 Booster doing what no other rocket has ever done, landing upright and coming to rest on its four metal legs. Actually, maybe it is a little reminiscent of War of the Worlds rocketry?
Still – there are big changes on the way and not all of them end up with the moon, some of them mean saying goodbye to purchasing seats aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. Thanks to Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin and the reusable rocket he is developing (Shepard rocket landed for the very first time at Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas on Nov. 23) and there are other companies that are on their way or plan to be, just a slew of companies that have both the dream and the know-how.
Probably first with the private landings on the Moon are the companies vying for the Google Lunar X Prize. California based Moon Express is just one of those companies. Created in 2007, the Google Lunar XPrize has one major goal – to incentivize space entrepreneurs to make affordable and common-place traveling to the Moon & beyond. A competition where the winner gets art of a $30 million dollar purse goes to the team who can land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images. Just one of the teams involved (considered the leader – already getting the 1 million dollar landing prize AND the $250,000 imaging prize) is California based company Moon Express, which aims to fly commercial missions to the Moon in addition to unlocking its resources. Moon Express has already signed a five-launch deal with Rocket, so they are for real! There’s Virgin Galactic for the tourist part of the dog & pony show, but all sorts of start ups that have kept a ow profile except to make this space enthusiast downright giddy at the fact that “we’re going to do it!”
Not being rich or young, the likelihood of me getting to space is pretty slim. Sad really since the science excites me and the Hard SciFi I write takes me to a whole new world. There are so many exciting things going on right now from the previous astronaut Diaz and his company Ad Astra with its promising work on the Vasimir Engines to NASA and their work on the FTL Warp Drive it’s hard to believe we’re just years away!
There is, unfortunately, one thing that could mess all that up! If the next president walks in and tears down the current NASA and puts in place a new law of the land to follow. NASA can’t do an about face. While private industry is doing it – NASA is kind of required by international space treaty to tag along to keep an eye. Perhaps the laws will change, but do we really want to trust private industry to not pollute? They can’t self-monitor too well and the EPA didn’t do so hot, but NASA can keep an eye on it all.
You know what voice I’m hearing over and over in my head? Buzz Light-year – “to infinity and beyond!”