Even though it may seem that space exploration has taken a huge step back after NASA retired its shuttle program, the future might be a highly bright one thanks to privatized space programs. Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, Inc., is one of the couple of billionaires today who share a common vision – the future of private space capitalization. Jain’s idea, in particular, is that of bringing lunar landers and mining platforms to the moon. “People ask, why do we want to go back to the moon? Isn’t it just barren soil?” Jain said. “But the moon has never been explored from an entrepreneurial perspective.” He actually sees a lot of opportunities with lunar exploration, besides mining. “No one has ever captured people’s fascination with the moon,” he said. “What if, say, we take a picture of your family on the moon and project it back to you? Or take DNA up there?”
So far, this company Moon Express has already been awarded $10 million by NASA, part of the agency’s Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD) program, and is also shooting for the $30 million put into play by Google’s Lunar X Prize. Jain, a self-made billionaire, is confident that by 2013 his company will commence the first mining operations on the moon. So far, MoonEx’s lunar lander successfully completed a flight test at the Hover Test Facility in NASA’s Ames Research Center.
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