2 Oct 2015

NZ's Rocket Lab aims for moon

6:28 pm on 2 October 2015

New Zealand's Rocket Lab space company has been contracted by American entrepreneurs to provide at least three launches for the first private moon landing - possibly as early as 2017.

Moon Express hopes to be the first private company to land on the moon.

Moon Express hopes to be the first private company to land on the moon. Photo: Supplied

Moon Express - funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to mine the lunar surface for precious metals - has signed for a total of five launches.

Three are confirmed, and two are back-up plans.

Moon Express was yet to decide on whether the launches will be from the range Rocket Lab is building in Canterbury, or from Cape Canaveral in the United States.

Moon Express chief executive Bob Richards said he wanted to be able to land, collect samples and return to Earth from the moon.

The company was hoping to become the first private venture to reach the moon. It's aim is to mine the moon's surface for rare and precious metals,

The deal increased its chances of winning a US$30 million Google Inc prize for the first privately funded lunar landing. Moon Express was awarded US$1 million by Google this year as the only team shooting for the moon to flight test a prototype of its lander.

-RNZ/ Reuters

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