SpaceDev To Design Lunar Dish Observatory Mission
SpaceDev has been awarded a small contract by Lunar Enterprise Corporation of California for the next phase in designing a mission and spacecraft for a lunar lander program. The low-cost, unmanned mission is intended to land a small dish antenna near the south pole of the Moon.
From that location it will be in near-constant sunlight for solar power generation, and can perform multi-wavelength astronomy while communicating with ground stations on Earth.
"We are excited about advancing this unique, pioneering project," said Jim Benson, founding chairman and chief executive of SpaceDev.
"This is great timing because NASA has started implementing the recommendations of President Bush's Aldridge Commission for building a robust space industry."
"SpaceDev has a long-term vision of building its own private sector space program. Conducting an innovative lunar lander mission would be as revolutionary as SpaceDev's role in the success of SpaceShipOne."
"This Lunar Dish Observatory mission will demonstrate that such missions can be performed quickly and inexpensively - expected to be less than $50 million - by the private sector."
"This mission should be attractive to the "new NASA," as directed by the Aldridge Commission, in terms of innovation, practicality, fast turnaround, and low cost for humanity's continuing exploration of the moon."
The main emphasis of this second phase of work will be on the precise and safe landing of the robotic science station. SpaceDev will evaluate existing and newly available data and technology for landing site selection and landing hazard avoidance.
The lunar mission to advance human understanding of stars and galaxies will be designed with the same approach as SpaceDev's highly successful CHIPSat science microsatellite for the University of California at Berkeley/NASA University Explorer program.
SpaceDev's approach is to make systems as small, low-cost and as practical as possible while minimizing risks, in order to successfully demonstrate the performance of science on the surface of the Moon.
"Lunar Enterprise is funding this study to be a catalyst to individuals, companies and countries to join together in a rapid return to the Moon," said Steve Durst, founder and director of Lunar Enterprise Corporation.
"Organizations around the world are currently conducting and planning various lunar missions. Corporate and national leaders, and the world's leading lunar scientists will be discussing these projects at the International Lunar Conference 2004 in India in November 2004."
"We hope this seedling project will help bring these parties together to discuss cooperation and identification of resources for concerted lunar activities."
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Private Firms Step Up For Lunar Missions
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Jul 19, 2004
Thirty-five years after the first humans set foot on the moon, the United States is planning for return flights to the lunar surface. NASA's next group of moonwalkers, however, might not find the place quite as desolate as their Apollo brethren did.
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