Robots Could Start Mining on the Moon as Early as 2020

A Florida-based robotics company wants to build a lunar mining outpost.

July 16, 2017 5:00 am
Moon mining
A mining outpost could be up and running by 2020. (Moon Express)

This lunar mining company’s idea is far from a moonshot.

Moon Express, a Florida-based robotics firm, has a plan to build a permanent lunar mining outpost—and its no longer some far-fetched idea out of a sci-fi novel. After raising $45 million in funding, the company wants to launch its first mission by the end of this year.

Racing against the clock, Moon Express is aiming to be the first private company to reach the Moon. If they launch by year’s end, the company wins Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition and banks $20 million.

The Lunar Scout expedition, part of a three-phase plan, will deliver a telescope and laser array to the Moon’s surface, according to New Scientist. That robot will be joined by another around 2019, and the two will explore the Moon’s south pole in search of water and valuable minerals. Harvest Moon, the company’s aptly named third expedition, will establish a mining outpost in 2020 and send a sample-filled pod back to Earth, according to the company’s plan.

Laws governing lunar land rights are murky, but that’s not what is holding up the launch. Moon Express contracted Rocket Lab, a private space company, to build their rocket, but it’s not completed yet. Even if they don’t reach the deadline, the company says it will still launch whenever the rocket is complete.

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