Moon Express Becomes First Private Company to Receive Permission to Go to the Moon

Bang. Zoom.

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Space law is not just a real thing that you can pursue as a career but also a fairly complicated thing due to the fact that private spaceflight is becoming a reality, which means we finally have to deal with the implications of, say, ownership of the Moon. That hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from giving out permission to go there, though, and Moon Express has become the first company to gain that right.

Moon Express is just one of the companies vying to win Google’s Lunar X-PRIZE, which has $30 million up for grabs ($20 million grand prize, $5 million second place, and $5 bonus prize) for companies that manage to put a functional robot on the Moon and send back HD video. Moon Express now has a big leg up on competitors, since they actually have permission to venture out past Earth’s orbit, but with the government taking that step, others will surely follow—we’ll just have to see who actually pulls it off.

As a press release posted on Moon Express’s site says, “With this landmark ruling, Moon Express has become the first private company approved to literally go out of this world as a pioneer of commercial space missions beyond Earth’s orbit. The federal interagency approval of the Moon Express 2017 lunar mission establishes an important precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration, bringing with it monumental implications for the advancement of technology, science, research, and development, as well as commercial ventures that expand Earth’s economic sphere.”

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though, as this company is also very into the idea of mining the Moon for resources. Space-based resource gathering could be huge in the future, but the Moon is kind of important to life here on Earth, which makes the prospect of commercial entities tampering with it on a large scale just a bit troubling. Hopefully, Moon Express’s other description of the Moon as a “gas station” for travel further into outer space is more in line with the eventual outcome of this decision.

(via Wired, image via Luigi Mengato on Flickr)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.