Mountain View California-based company Moon Express has unveiled a commercial lunar lander called the MX-1. The company, competing in the Google Lunar X Prize worth $40 million, aims to land the MX-1 by Dec 2015. The MX-1 is the first in a series of spacecrafts designed by Moon Express aimed at fulfilling its long term view of mining the moon for resources.
Described to be the size of a large coffee table, the MX-1 is a single stage spacecraft which can be launched from a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), a region above the earth which is used to place communication satellites. The MX-1 will use another launcher to be carried to this orbit. The company has designed the lander to be powered using hydrogen peroxide and kerosene. MX-1 will also use sunlight as one of the sources of power. The lander weighs around 600 kilograms, 75% of which is contributed by the rocket fuel. Unlike the traditional methods of landing using legs, the MX-1 will land on one of its empty fuel tanks which will also provide cushioning.
The MX-1 has been designed to be a multi-function lander to carry out tasks such as satellite servicing, space debris clean up and cubesat (small sized satellites) deployment. Bob Richards, co-founder and CEO of Moon Express calls the MX-1 as ‘IPhone of space’. “The MX-1 is not just a lunar lander, it is a spacecraft workhorse with many markets. The MX-1 is the ‘IPhone’ of space’; a platform capable of supporting many apps including our core plan of exploring the Moon for resources of benefit to humanity.”, Bob says.
Source: The Verge