By, Matthew Richardson | Orlando Business Journal
Moon Express Inc. announced July 12 that it reached an agreement with U.S. Air Force 45th Wing — known as Cape Canaveral Air Force Base — to license the use of launch complexes 17 and 18 for its lunar lander development and flight test operations. Moon Express CEO Bob Richards announced the plan to more than 300 attendees at the National Space Club Florida committee luncheon on the Space Coast.
Under the agreement, Florida will contribute up to $1.85 million toward improving the launch complexes and Moon Express will match the funding. The currently inactive launch complexes are the former home of Delta II rockets. Among the major NASA missions launched from the complex were the Explorer and Pioneer space probes, and the Mars Exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity. While complex 18 was the site of the U.S.’ first attempt to launch satellites into orbit, complex 17 has remained inactive since the last launch in 2011. Moon Express expects to make its first of three launches to the moon in 2017 with the help of Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab USA.
Moon Express already is familiar with Cape Canaveral. The company first had an agreement with Space Florida in 2015 to occupy launch complex 36A, but plans were put on hold after Blue Origin agreed to launch rockets from that complex within 10 years. The new agreement for complexes 17 and 18 will allow Moon Express to eA California-based commercial space company is helping refurbish a couple of old, inactive launch complexes in Cape Canaveral to prepare space missions to the moon.
“We are honored to be residents at Cape Canaveral and look forward to our expanded presence,” Richards said. “The moon is rising again over the Space Coast thanks to the unequivocal support of Space Florida, NASA Kennedy Space Center and the USAF 45th Space Wing.”
Moon Express has raised $31.5 million since it was founded in 2010, making it the third-best-funded new space company.