From: SpaceDev, Inc.
Posted: Monday, January 5, 2004
SpaceDev has completed the first phase of a privately funded study to design a low cost robotic return to the Moon. The study was performed for Lunar Enterprise of California (LEC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Space Age Publishing Company), and follows an earlier SpaceDev Lunar orbiter mission and spacecraft design project funded by Boeing. The current study analyzes mission and spacecraft options for a Lunar Dish Observatory to be placed near the south pole of the Moon.
"With Europe on the way to the Moon, Japan lunar missions set for 2004 and 2005, and India as well as China preparing to send a series of robotic missions to the Moon culminating in a manned lander mission, and with renewed interest by our own government in returning to the Moon, SpaceDev seems to be in the right place at the right time," said SpaceDev founding chairman and chief executive Jim Benson. "SpaceDev and others have been advocating the importance of a stronger U.S. private sector presence in and beyond Earth orbit for years. Recent public statements from high levels of government indicate more focus on such private sector contracts and a return to the Moon."
The SpaceDev study found that the south pole of the Moon is an ideal location for a variety of activities including a dish-type observatory. Certain areas near the pole experience extended periods of sunlight for solar power and warmth, and are in direct line of sight to communicate with the Earth. The study also found that insufficient data exists to choose a precise landing spot and describes the need for better navigation capabilities at and around the Moon. SpaceDev expects to begin working on the next phase of the study early next year.
The Lunar mission being designed by SpaceDev for LEC would save money and reduce risk by using hardware and software technology already developed by SpaceDev. In addition to incorporating its miniature high performance CHIPSat flight computer and Internet-based mission operation and control software, the study is examining the use of SpaceDev's clean, safe hybrid rocket motor technology developed with government contracts and for the historic SpaceShipOne project.
SpaceDev estimates that its Lunar Dish Observatory lander mission can be conducted for significantly less than the cost of previous missions such as the successful $100 million NASA Lunar Prospector, and the $150 million DoD Clementine orbiter (in today's dollars).
SpaceDev creates and sells affordable and innovative space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises. Upon founding SpaceDev in 1997, Jim Benson started the trend of successful computer entrepreneurs moving into the space development arena. For more information, visit www.spacedev.com.
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