Moon Express lunar lander on schedule

Posted on 12 Aug 2017 and read 366 times
Moon Express lunar lander on scheduleMoon Express, a company developing commercial lunar landers, has announced that its first mission is still on schedule for launch by the end of this year in a bid to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

The Florida-based company used an event on Capitol Hill, Washington, to unveil the design of the lander, known as MX-1E, as well as plans for future missions that include larger landers and spacecraft returning samples to Earth.

The lander, which is capable of placing up to 30kg of payload on the lunar surface, is the building block of a “flexible, scalable and innovative exploration architecture that can help us open the moon as a frontier for humanity”, said Moon Express chief executive Bob Richards.

“We have flight hardware already,” he added, citing development of the lander’s engine — called Peco — which uses rocket-grade kero-sene and ‘high-test’ peroxide propellants. Two such engines have been built and will soon be undergoing tests.

Current plans call for integrating the spacecraft components in Florida by September before shipping the spacecraft to the New Zealand launch site of Rocket Lab, which will launch the lunar lander on its Electron rocket.

There are several launches ahead of Moon Express on Rocket Lab’s manifest, including a NASA mission under a ‘Venture Class Launch Services’ contract awarded in 2015.

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