Posted in: Iowa City Owl
It's been forty years since the last moon-landing made by NASA, and while the governmental space program has no direct plans of their own to get back to our orbiting celestial body, companies such as Space Adventures and Google have reignited the race in the commercial realm. With projects ranging from landing data-collecting robots to commercial lunar flights, there is currently a boom in the star-ship building enterprise.
The Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition was announced in September of 2007, and by December 31st, 2010, twenty-six teams were entered. According to the prize details, groups which must be 90% privately-funded are tasked to land a rover on the moon, have it move 500 feet, and transmit video, images, and data back to Earth. All of this must be accomplished by 2015, or the $30 million dollars in prize money will be forfeit. As an additional incentive, if a government space program, such as the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program's proposed 2013 landing of their lunar rover Chang'e 3, then the prize will drop to $15 million.
Not satisfied with merely sending scientific equipment to the moon, there are those out there who want to travel to it in person. Eric C. Anderson, founder of Space Adventures, is on the forefront of making the biggest of all escapist fantasies possible for anyone willing to pay their way. In 2001, the company made history books by providing millionaire Dennis Tito a trip to orbit, thus opening the doors to space tourism. Space Adventures provides zero-g simulation rides, suborbital flights, trips to the International Space Station, and has plans for 2015 to have their first manned lunar orbit tour, of which the first of two seats available has been bought for $150 million dollars. Better start saving your pennies now if you plan to be on that flight.
With many nations and corporations getting back into the space race, this time fueled by creative competition and global betterment rather than Cold War mentalities, it may be quite feasible to believe that we may have commercially viable and affordable within the next 25-50 years. This news is coming none-to-soon as it seems us humans are becoming stir crazy, and turning on ourselves, here on Earth.
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