A Florida-based company made history this week by winning federal approval for a private mission to the moon. The development is unprecedented in the private space industry.
Up until now, only countries were allowed to travel beyond the Earth’s orbit. But this week the U-S government told Moon Express: all systems are go. The company plans to make lunar landfall with its robotic spacecraft in 2017. Justin Karl heads the Commercial Space program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He says this approval opens the regulatory door for private space travel and exploration.
“Everything is starting to come together in private space. And that fact that the FAA recognizes that and you can see the role of NASA changing, and you can see all of these private entities gaining more and more traction. And here Moon Express being fairly close to success, it’s certainly a very exciting time,” he said.
And Karl says it’s a small victory in an ongoing debate in the aerospace community: Mars versus the Moon.
“Why aren’t we fine-tuning our methods and exploiting some of the resources that are so much closer. And to see that the private space flight community has not given up on that idea is of course very encouraging. And because it’s a shorter, nearer-term mission it’s something the public can get excited about as well,” he said.
Moon Express has 9 job openings at its Cape Canaveral offices.