Moon Express has obtained permission from the U.S. government to launch a company-built robotic spacecraft on a mission to explore the Moon’s surface.
The company submitted its 2017 lunar mission plan to the Federal Aviation Administration in April and received authorization after discussions with FAA, the White House, NASA, the State Department and other federal agencies, Moon Express said Wednesday.
“The Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the U.S. government and a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond the Earth’s orbit,” said Moon Express co-founder and CEO Bob Richards.
“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 added.
The company noted the arrangement involves payload review and launch license processes under the Transportation Secretary’s authority as well as voluntary disclosures to help the government meet supervisory obligations under the Outer Space Treaty.
Moon Express contracted Rocket Lab USA in October last year to provide three launch services beginning in 2017 and signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to use two complexes at Cape Canaveral AF Station in Florida for Moon Express’ spacecraft development activities.