U.S. On the Verge of Approving Private Moon Mission

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The US government is on the verge of approving the first private space mission to leave the Earth’s orbit, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The approval would allow California-headquartered start-up Moon Express to land an unmanned spacecraft and 20-pounds of scientific equipment on the moon in 2017.

The pending approval is important in two crucial and related ways. One, it sets a precedent for for-profit companies to work in tandem with the US government in space exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. In addition, the approval would lay the diplomatic groundwork for how these private companies must interact with international regulations and longstanding treaties that call upon the US and other countries to supervise government and commercial aeronautic activity.

“With the emergence of new private players, it’s important to show some regulatory predictability,” Scott Pace, a former senior NASA official and current George Washington University professor, told The Wall Street Journal.

Recent years have already seen NASA working with entrepreneurs toward progress in space. Entrepreneur Elon Musks’ company SpaceX currently runs commercial cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station in conjunction with NASA. While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is one of six government-contract holders who provide flight services for NASA missions.

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SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, Simone McCarthy