In an article posted today by MSNBC’s superb space science writer Alan Boyle, the Moon Express organisation now look like they will be able to launch their spacecraft to the Moon as early as next year. The deadline for the Google Lunar X Prize being 2017, this means the $20 million prize could still be won.
The aim for the GLXP is for a private organisation to land on the lunar surface, send back HD images and move 500m or more.
The hurdles that the GLXP entrants have to go through are immense, with a host of regulations for U.S based organisations, showing that yet again NASA and others are very serious about not only what payloads are sent, but also that all the options are truly viable. It’s a very positive step forward.
Further afield, Elon Musk’s plans with SpaceX are ramping up for their own robotic mission, not to the Moon, but straight on to Mars. Whilst many have stated Mars to be a goal for both human and robotic missions, Musk has a track record of not only delivering on what he and his team say, but surpassing expectations.
Their Dragon capsule already contracted to send astronauts to the ISS, who would really bet against him, or at least part of what he plans to do, being one of the first craft to send humans to the red planet? Between Jeff Bezos’ and Musks”’ impressive vertical landings of the first truly reusable “rocket” craft in the last year or so, the space race first seen during the Mercury/Sputnik and Gemini/Apollo era seems to at last be coming around again, albeit with smaller budgets, but equally ambitious goals.
For space memorabilia collectors like myself, this may open up a whole new range of collectable items in the future, but it also makes our first foray in to worlds’ beyond our own, even more desirable.
We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the value of space memorabilia over the past few years. Space Flown items obviously being the most sought after, but even things like training checklists and patches, as well as space memorabilia are now fetching 4 figure sums.
A passion for space flight that was first kindled for most of us when we were children, growing up in the shadow of the Apollo program, could soon see the ultimate “next” goal achieved. We can only watch in hope.