Moon Express Hosts Gala Celebration of New Space Era in Silicon Valley

VIP's and luminaries to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11 and a new era of commercial space exploration

Jul 21, 2011, 17:25 ET from Moon Express, Inc.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The shuttle Atlantis' return to Earth today, marks the end of an era in space exploration and the beginning of a brand new commercial space era.  To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11 and a new era of commercial space exploration, tonight Moon Express will host a Lunar Gala Celebration at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. "Today we are excited to celebrate a moment in history and continue to demonstrate innovative public-private partnerships to explore the Moon," said Naveen Jain, Co-Founder and Chairman of Moon Express.

The gala celebration event, themed "Fly ME to the Moon", is expected to attract a who's who of Silicon Valley VIP's and luminaries and will offer attendees a better understanding of why the Moon holds many potential answers to the Earth's future energy and resource needs.  The extraordinary evening will take place under a lunar inspired tent and will include spectacular visuals of the Moon taken from around the world by famous photographer Thomas Kiefer; an impressive private collection of meteorites from the Moon, Mars and asteroids; and a sneak preview of the Moon Express Lunar Lander Technology being developed in partnership with NASA. Moon Express will also demonstrate its commercially developed Lunar Lander technology in a flight test viewed for the first time by American media, astronauts, NASA officials, dignitaries and business luminaries from around Silicon Valley.

Moon Express is the first company to flight test a prototype lunar lander system designed for the Moon, developed in partnership with NASA.  The company plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth. In the near future, Moon Express will not only be delivering important payloads to the Moon but will also be exploring the Moon for the potential of mining precious materials we need here on Earth like platinum group metals, rare earth elements and Helium3 (used to create a second generation fusion fuel for electrical generation).

Dr. Barney Pell, Co-Founder, CTO and Vice Chairman of Moon Express, believes that exploration and development of lunar resources will create a paradigm change in humanity's future. "With recent evidence of volatiles and resources, the Moon has tremendous potential to support commerce and fundamentally impact the quality of life on Earth," he said. "Tonight we celebrate New Space and a new Moon."  

Moon Express is adapting NASA's Common Spacecraft Bus for use in small, low cost spacecraft designed to deliver payloads to a variety of locations, including lunar orbit and the lunar surface, Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Earth-Moon Lagrange points, and Near Earth Objects (NEOs). The Common Spacecraft Bus allows the company to design low-cost missions, launch on a variety of commercial rockets and deliver flexible payloads to the lunar surface and various orbits. Moon Express signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA last year to invest over $500K into the commercialization of the agency's technology in return for technical assistance.

The company views NASA's partnership as exemplary of a commitment to help nurture the burgeoning commercial spacecraft industry. Under the agreement, Moon Express is reimbursing NASA for technical assistance interpreting NASA designs of the Common Spacecraft Bus for applicability to the company's new lunar vehicle design and in the evaluation and testing of new spacecraft systems and software in a newly refitted hover test facility.

Moon Express Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards sees the Moon as Earth's eighth continent with vast resources that have the potential to benefit Earth and propel humanity to the Stars. "We have explored only a minute fraction of a world that has the land area of the Americas," he said. "There will be a day when humans look up at the Moon and see the lights of lunar cities that have enriched our lives and broadened Earth's economic and social sphere."

About Moon Express

Selected by Forbes as one of the '15 Names You Should Know', Moon Express is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company based at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley.  The company plans to send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development focused on benefits to Earth and has signed a partnership agreement with NASA for development of a lunar lander system.  

Moon Express was founded in 2010 by Naveen Jain, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer who founded Intelius and InfoSpace and serves as Chairman; Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, a founder of International Space University, who serves as CEO; and Dr. Barney Pell, Chief Architect for Bing Local Search at Microsoft and former NASA manager, who serves as Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer. The Moon Express co-founders also work together as Trustees of Singularity University.  Moon Express has been selected by NASA for a lunar data services contract worth up to $10M.  It is also one of only three U.S. companies to receive the first $500K delivery order under NASA's Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program.

Moon Express is also a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competition, which challenges privately funded teams to place a robot on the Moon's surface that transmits high definition video, images and data back to Earth from the landing site and from 500 meters away. The GLXP is available until 2015.

The Moon Express founders believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to Earth's energy future.  Moon Express has captured the interest of the mining industry and was featured in the April 2011 issue of Resource World magazine: Robot Pioneers to Mine the Moon.

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SOURCE Moon Express, Inc.