The International Lunar Observatory Association, led by American businessman/educator Steve Durst, plans to place an astronomical observatory on the Moon to capture never before seen images of the galaxy, stars, Moon and Earth and broadcast them in support of the worldwide Galaxy Forum 21st Century Education program.
A ‘Global Demonstration’ of the International Lunar Observatory precursor instrument was conducted by ILOA and Moon Express and hosted by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope during the late hours of July 23 from the summit of Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii.
Astronomers from Hawaii, the Continental United States, Canada, China, Japan and Europe were part of this pioneering demonstration of international collaboration in space exploration enabled through the commercial space sector, accessing the instrument over the internet and operating it as if it were on the Moon, capturing galaxy center first light and images of deep sky objects inside and outside of our Milky Way Galaxy.
“The primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation from our Moon,” said Durst. “We are very encouraged by our Global Demonstration and are excited about sending the ILO-X to the Moon.”
The ILOA has also announced its intention to solidify its presence on Hawaii Island with development of an international headquarters/research center in Waimea beginning in 2012. Preparations for the flight of the ILO-X to the Moon is provided by Moon Express, a commercial lunar transportation company based at the NASA Research Center in Silicon Valley.
Moon Express has designed and is building the ILO-X as the first independently developed astronomical telescope that will operate on the Moon, looking out at the Galaxy and heavens beyond and back at the Earth. About the size of a shoe-box, the ILO-X is using leading edge optical and imaging technology to deliver dramatic and inspiring deep sky pictures of Galactic and Extragalactic objects.
“We’re thrilled to be part of the ILO team reaching for the Moon,” said Moon Express co-founder and CEO, Bob Richards.
The ILO-X is a precursor to the permanent installation of a larger and more powerful International Lunar Observatory at the South Pole of the Moon. ILOA and Moon Express are establishing a Joint Venture Agreement for the South Pole mission, currently in planning. The ILO missions are expanding the model of commercial space investment to the South Pole of the Moon to do science, education, exploration and commercial activities – such as Lunar Broadcasting of Space Calendar and Lunar Enterprise Daily through affiliated Space Age Publishing Company.