Space-Exploration Startup Moon Express Inc. Gains Regulatory Authorization for Mission

Andy Pasztor reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “After six years of effort and about $30 million in investments, space-exploration startup Moon Express Inc. just became the first commercial venture to get U.S. regulatory authorization for a mission beyond Earth’s orbit.

“Now the Northern California-based company and entrepreneur Naveen Jain, its chairman and co-founder, need a reliable rocket, formal launch license and another cash infusion to turn that historic dream into reality.

“Government and Moon Express officials confirmed, as expected, that an interagency group headed by the Federal Aviation Administration has signed off on the company’s plan to send a tiny, unmanned scientific spacecraft to the surface of the moon in the second half of 2017.”

Mr. Pasztor noted that, “Apart from the focus on novel technology, Moon Express and its proponents have prompted debate on Capitol Hill about how the U.S. government, in coming decades, can effectively oversee what is projected to be a surge in commercial ventures outside the atmosphere.

“Earlier this year, the Obama administration sent draft legislation to Capitol Hill seeking to establish a common regulatory framework for future commercial missions beyond Earth’s orbit.

“In June, Michael Gold, head of Loral’s Washington office and chairman of an FAA advisory panel, told a House transportation subcommittee that swiftly passing such a bill is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in space.”

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