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posted by janrinok on Wednesday October 07 2015, @04:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the to-infinity-and-beyond dept.

Space startup Moon Express has signed a contract with Rocket Lab to help carry out three lunar missions starting in 2017. Described as the first private contract between two companies to carry out a lunar landing, the agreement will see Rocket Lab provide launch services using its Electron rocket system for the Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander as part of Moon Express's attempt win the Google Lunar Xprize.

The contract stipulates that Rocket Lab will provide services for two launches of the MX-1 lander in 2017 and a third at a date yet to be determined. These will be conducted from either Rocket Lab's New Zealand facilities or an American launch site. The Moon Express MX-1 lander is a scalable 600 kg (1,320 lb) spacecraft that can be sent to the Moon either directly or using low-energy trajectories. Its purpose is not only to conduct scientific missions, but also to deliver commercial payloads to the lunar surface at lower costs.

Life imitates art.


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by geb on Wednesday October 07 2015, @03:33PM

    by geb (529) on Wednesday October 07 2015, @03:33PM (#246474)

    Rocket Lab claims a maximum payload of 150kg to sun synchronous orbit. As a rough guess, I think that means about 250kg to LEO. I'm pretty sure the 600kg figure must be a mistake, unless Moon Express are putting their own custom built third stage under the probe.

    It's hard to find a reliable source for the mass of their lander design. The only measurement they give on their website describes the lander as "about the size of a coffee table". It does say that the lander makes its own departure from LEO though.

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