Space

December 9, 2013

Moon Express unveils breakthrough ‘MX-1’ commercial lunar lander

moon-express
Moon Express, Inc., a privately funded lunar resources company, unveiled its “MX-1″ lunar lander spacecraft Dec. 5 as a breakthrough robotic space vehicle capable of a multitude of applications including delivering scientific and commercial payloads to the Moon at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.

The spacecraft design is being unveiled today at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas in front of an audience of over 10,000 attendees.

The MX-1 synthesizes proprietary robotic technologies, advanced micro-avionics, and a unique toroidal structure to produce a “green” robotic spacecraft that is powered by sunlight and uses hydrogen peroxide as rocket fuel. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an oxygen enriched water compound commonly found in nature and biological systems. With the recent discovery of water on the Moon, the MX-1 has a potential source of rocket fuel on the lunar surface, a scenario that would be a game changer in the economics of lunar resources and solar system exploration.

“The spacecraft rockets use a high test version of the consumer level hydrogen peroxide widely available in drug stores,” said Tim Pickens, Chief Propulsion Engineer at Moon Express and former propulsion lead for SpaceShipOne. “We’re developing three new rocket engines at our Propulsion Development and Test Facilities in Huntsville and benefiting greatly from new advances in digital 3D design and fabrication tools.”

The main MX-1 rocket engine is a dual mode bi-propellant system that also uses kerosene as an after burner to give the spacecraft the punch to break out of Earth orbit, accelerate to faster than a bullet, travel a million miles to beyond the Moon, and come back to break to zero velocity using its outboard thrusters as it touches the lunar surface. The spacecraft is designed to ride to Earth orbit on low cost secondary payload opportunities aboard commercial launchers like the SpaceX Falcon 9 that are radically reducing the cost of access to space.

About the size of a large coffee table, the MX-1 is a completely self-contained single stage spacecraft that can reach the surface of the Moon from a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) commonly used to place communications satellites above the Earth. It is also designed to be a flexible spacecraft platform that can support a number of applications including serving as a flexible, agile upper stage for existing launch systems enabling Earth orbit cubesat deployment, satellite servicing, and “space tug” applications such as cleaning up space debris.

“The MX-1 is not just a lunar lander, it is a spacecraft workhorse with many markets,” said Moon Express Co-founder & CEO Bob Richards. “The MX-1 is the ‘iPhone of space'; a platform capable of supporting many apps including our core plan of exploring the Moon for resources of benefit to humanity.”

Moon Express is introducing the MX-1 as the first of a series of robotic space vehicles based on a scalable patent pending design to operate in Earth orbit and deep space destinations. Moon Express will utilize the MX-1 in its maiden technology demonstrator flight in 2015, delivering a number of commercial and government payloads to the Moon and pursuing the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE.

Moon Express engineers have combined the latest exponential technologies in micro-avionics with advanced propulsion and materials to create an innovative approach to spacecraft design and fabrication, empowered by leading edge Autodesk digital design tools to help make the impossible possible and reach for the Moon.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft stays course to Pluto

Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, taken at 8:40 UTC and 10:25 UTC...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 

 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 
 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>