Britain's First Lunar Mission Gets Underway

MoonbaseX is proud to announce the signature of a formal Letter Of Intent with the X Prize Foundation at London’s historic Royal Observatory in Greenwich, kickstarting Britain's first lunar mission as part of the Google Lunar X Prize.
By: MoonbaseX
 
Dec. 16, 2010 - PRLog -- BRITAIN'S FIRST LUNAR MISSION GETS UNDER WAY

On the eve of the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first historic powered flight on December 17, 1903, MoonbaseX is proud to announce the signature of a formal Letter Of Intent with the X Prize Foundation at London’s historic Royal Observatory in Greenwich, kickstarting Britain's first lunar mission as part of the Google Lunar X Prize. The lunar mission will see spacecraft built out of nanosatellites, ten by ten cm space-ready cubes of electronics and avionics about the size of an iPod, making it the world's first nanosatellite lunar mission.

(see videos of the announcement over at http://www.youtube.com/user/MoonbaseX)

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Nearly 300 years ago to this day, a disaster at sea killed over 2,000 British men and prompted greater calls for more reliable means of navigation. In 1714, Parliament established a panel of experts, the Board of Longitude, and offered a massive £2 million in today's terms to anyone who could solve the problem of finding longitude at sea. It took nearly 60 years for the prize to be claimed. In the end it went not to a famous astronomer, scientist or mathematician, but to a little-known Yorkshire carpenter turned clockmaker, called John Harrison. Harrison's H4 timekeeper was to change navigation forever.

This year, the Obama Administration finally decided to shut down NASA's beleaguered Constellation program to return men to the Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo Program in the 70s, the same date that the British space program was abandoned. The Google Lunar X Prize was setup in response to the gradual disappearance of government funding and to help develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar X Prize, a privately-funded team must solve the problem of how to place a robot on the Moon’s surface and transmit video and images back to Earth before end 2015, to claim a £12 million Grand Prize. To date, there has been no attempt at creating a British team to win the Prize. Following in the tradition of John Harrison, of British astronomy, of British navigation and of British exploration, this announcement rekindles the spirit of that heritage and will change transportation beyond low earth orbit and to the Moon forever.

The reality of current spaceflight missions is that they are run out of mission control centers on the Earth's surface, and are akin to trying to land a jumbo jet into New York from air traffic control here in London. This is labor-intensive, it is resource-intensive, it is prone to multiple timing, positioning, navigation and mechanical errors, and it is overall an archaic process when all of us can pull up a local map and navigate ourselves from A to B on our mobile phones automatically within seconds.

The Royal Observatory's groundbreaking work was directly responsible for the later development of mass scale seafaring in the 1700s - 1800s, by first making sailing and navigation safer, more reliable, and less costly in lives and resources. MoonbaseX's legacy will be to build a rudimentary grid of Moon-based beacons that will both act as Prime Moon Meridians, and as traffic, timing and navigation aids, making future landings on the Moon and beyond highly safe and accurate, fully automated, and dramatically more affordable.

About MoonbaseX (CEO: Mandali Khalesi)
MoonbaseX is the UK's first aerospace venture to land and explore the Moon, in order to offer affordable and sustainable Earth-Moon transportation to all. Leveraging the UK's world-leading expertise in nanosatellite technology, manufacturing and operations, MoonbaseX offers the leading affordable and fast-turnaround alternative to traditional monolithic multiyear multimillion aerospace programs beyond low earth orbit and out to the Moon. For more information about MoonbaseX, please visit:
http://www.moonbasex.com/
http://www.facebook.com/MoonbaseX

About the Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian line, is one of the most important historic scientific sites in the world. It was founded by Charles II in 1675 and built to improve navigation at sea and to 'find the so-much desired longitude of places' - one's exact position east and west - while at sea and out of sight of land, by astronomical means. Since the late 19th century, the Prime Meridian here at Greenwich has served as the co-ordinate base for the calculation of Greenwich Mean Time. Before this, there were no national or international conventions to set how time should be measured, or when the day would begin and end, or what the length of an hour might be. The Observatory is, by international decree, the official starting point for each new day, each new year and each new millennium.

About the Google Lunar X Prize
The $30 million Google Lunar X Prize is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar X Prize, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so before end 2015 will claim a $20 million Grand Prize. For more information about the Google Lunar X Prize, visit:
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

(Photography: Eriko Khalesi)

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MoonbaseX is the UK's first commercial venture to land and explore the Moon, in order to offer affordable and sustainable Earth-Moon transportation to all.
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