Europe

European rocket scientists pledge first private Moon landing in 2018

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A group of European rocket scientists are hoping to achieve the first private Moon landing by 2018, the Telegraph reports.

The group of European rocket engineers called PTScintists (Part-time Scientists), has completed construction of a landing module and two rovers, which are expected to launch aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2018.

The group’s landing module will be programmed to land in the Taurus-Littrow valley, which is roughly two miles from the site of the Apollo 17 mission.

According to the Telegraph, the landing module will deploy two rovers with the goal of tracking down NASA’s moon buggy, which was left behind by Gene Cernan, who was the last man to have stepped foot on the Moon.

The group of scientists are aiming to discover how well NASA’s buggy has maintained on the lunar surface for more than forty years.

“This is a crucial first step for sustainable exploration of the solar system,” said Robert Boehme, who is the chief executive of PTScientists. “In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet.”

“With Mission to the Moon we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon,” he said.

“We will be collecting a lot of scientific data on the Moon and the high-speed data connectivity will enable the rovers to communicate with Alina to send that valuable data back to Earth,” said electrical engineer and rover driver Karsten Becker. “Our rovers are packed with sensors and equipped with high definition cameras.”

SPACE RACE TO THE MOON

Last month SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that his company plans to launch two paying customers on a weeklong mission around the moon by the end of 2018, Space.com reported.

Just a few days after Musk’s February announcement, rival space entrepreneur and founder of Blue Origin Jeff Bezos said his space exploration company aims to start delivering science experiments and human habitats, along with other gear, to the Moon by mid-2020, Space.com reported.

To add to the competition, Google Lunar XPrize Foundation recently announced five teams that will compete for the honor of being the first private group to land on the moon, with the winning team receiving a $20 million prize, Business Insider reported.

Sometime before the end of 2017, one or more of the final five groups will attempt to land on the moon. The Final Five are Moon Express, SpaceIl, Synergy Moon, Team Indus, and Team Hakuto, as reported by Business Insider.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump has also voiced his support for a return to the Moon by the United States space program. Trump called for a “rapid and affordable” return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA’s mission to “the large-scale economic development of space,” Politico reported last month.

“A good part of the Trump administration would like a lot more aggressive, risk-taking, competitive entrepreneurial approach to space,” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in an interview. “A smaller but still powerful faction represents Boeing and the expensive old contractors who have soaked up money with minimum results.

“No NASA program dominated by bureaucrats could take the risks, accept the failures and create a learning curve comparable to an entrepreneurial approach,” he added. “Just think of the Wright brothers’ 500 failures in five summers at $1 per failure. Ask how long NASA would have taken and how much it would have cost.”

(Written & Edited by Bart Charles Begley)

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