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Moon Express unveils lunar lander design with planned 2015 launch date

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Moon Express MX-1
Moon Express MX-1

Moon Express, currently a contender for Google's $30 million Lunar Xprize, recently unveiled designs for the robotic spacecraft that could let them continue lunar exploration in the next decade. Dubbed the MX-1, company CEO Bob Richards is calling the coffee table-sized craft 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."

"The iPhone of space"

The MX-1 plans were unveiled at Autodesk University in Las Vegas on Thursday. The craft will be designed to ferry scientific equipment to the Moon's surface, creating new chances for exploration for the researchers on Earth while also opening the door for mining the Moon's rare earth minerals in the future. "Everything we fight about on Earth," Richards told NPR, "all the resources are available in infinite quantities in space."

Crucially, the lander will be designed to run on solar power and hydrogen peroxide-based rocket fuel. That means the cost of fueling its endeavors will be dramatically reduced — especially if the robot can eventually turn the frozen water on the Moon into usable fuel. Moon Express hopes to launch the lander by 2015.

This is only the second spacecraft Moon Express has begun work on. Earlier this year, the company forged a partnership with the International Lunar Observatory Association to launch the ILO-X telescope to explore the Moon's south pole by 2015.