Moon Express wins U.S. green light for moonshot

Image: Moon Express lander
An artist’s conception shows the Moon Express MX-1 lander in lunar orbit. (Credit: Moon Express)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Moon Express says it has received preliminary clearance for the robotic lander that it plans to send to the moon next year, after a voluntary payload review involving the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies.

The clearance doesn’t represent final regulatory approval for the mission, although some reports may be giving that impression. The FAA will still have to grant a launch license before Moon Express can blast off.

Nevertheless, Moon Express’ executives hailed the successful payload review as a significant step toward what could be the first commercial mission to another celestial body. Moon Express CEO Bob Richards called it a “landmark decision.”

“We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth’s eighth continent, the moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth’s economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity,” Richards said in a statement issued today.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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