The moon may just seem like that white circle that orbits the earth, and astronauts back in the 60s landed on it but there is definitely more to the Moon than these few facts. The shift in interest is not helped when NASA themselves have changed their focus from revisiting the Moon to trying to visit an asteroid or even Mars. Luckily for the moon not everyone has given up on going back.
The fact that NASA is at the present disinterested in any further lunar exploration has created a situation where there is serious interest from private companies to be the first to return to Earth’s satellite.
The newest addition to the list of competitors is ‘Astrobotic Technology’ which has come out from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Their intention is to land on the moon and then mine for water and fuel. They appear to be at the front of pecking order as a deal with NASA including a contract for rides on private rockets has already been completed.
The company is just at the start of their two-year contract and will have a field-tested robot ready to visit both of the moon’s poles and extract water, methane and whatever else they will find.
In total there are 26 companies who are striving to be the first to the moon and many are being fuelled by the Google Lunar X Prize which is a $20 million contract aimed at getting man back on the moon.
However, Astrobotic are using a different path. They will be using California company SpaceX to get to the moon using its Falcon 9 rockets. They will also be using their own Lunar Lander which will be taking the company’s mining robot to the surface of the moon.
Water, methane and ammonia
The aim of the trip is to locate water, methane and ammonia within hidden pockets inside the moon. Scientists have confirmed their confidence in finding these elements, the only problem is that there is no certainty of the amount of each which will be found in the moon.
David Gump, president of Astrobotic, has said: “There’s an element deposited by the solar wind called helium 3 that many people believe is the key element for fusion reactors.”