Moon Express Enables Private American Scientific Collaboration on China Moon Mission

The Chang'e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.
The Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.

Silicon Valley, CA, December 1, 2013 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express, a U.S. commercial lunar enterprise, is enabling scientific collaboration between the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and China’s Chang’e-3 Moon mission successfully launched today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, southwest China.

The U.S. private sector collaboration on Chang’e-3 is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between ILOA and the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) on September 4, 2012 in Hawaii, and a MOU signed between ILOA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on August 13, 2013, in Beijing.

The first such private U.S.A./China collaboration, the parties have agreed to an exchange in kind in which ILOA participates in observing and receives Galaxy, astronomical images from Chang’s-3’s Ultra-violet telescope and NAOC receives observing time on ILOA telescopes travelling to the Moon aboard Moon Express landers in 2015 and 2017. The collaboration is scientific and educational in nature, and will establish a cooperative program to conduct Galaxy, Astronomical Imaging for Global 21st Century Education from the lunar surface.

ILO-X lunar telescope. (Credit: ILOA)

“As ILOA prepares for Galaxy 21st Century Education collaboration with the Chang’e-3 UV telescope, I hope today’s successful launch of China’s Chang’e-3 probe to the Moon will have a great impact on U.S.A. space policy in a positive and constructive way to insure the U.S.A. has robotic Moon operations leading to permanent human presence,” said ILOA Founding Director, Steve Durst.

Moon Express has designed and built the International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X) under contract to the ILOA and will deliver it to the lunar surface aboard Moon Express’ inaugural mission in 2015. ILO-X is the world’s first private lunar telescope and will be accessible over the internet, pioneering a new era of global space research and citizen science with space observation and communication technology on the Moon. The ILO-X is a precursor to the larger, permanent lunar observatory “ILO-1” – a multifunctional 2-meter dish scheduled to be delivered by Moon Express to the Moon’s South Pole in 2017 to conduct Galaxy observation and commercial communications activities.

“We are beginning a new era of commercial lunar exploration,” said Bob Richards, Moon Express Co-founder & CEO and ILOA founding board member. “Moon Express is proud to be working with ILOA on a historic private sector science collaboration with China on the Chang’e-3 mission that, if successful, will be the first American scientific activity on the lunar surface in over forty years.”


Moon Express (MoonEx) a privately funded lunar resource company created to establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit. The company is partnered with NASA for lunar lander development and is engineering a series of low-cost robotic missions to the Moon for commercial and government customers, with a long term goal of locating and developing lunar resources for use in space and on Earth. Moon Express won a $10M commercial lunar contract from NASA in 2010 and is a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for the first private team to land a robot on the Moon. Moon Express is headquarted in Silicon Valley at the NASA Ames Research Park and has a Propulsion Development Facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Moon Express founders, Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell, believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to humanity’s future on Earth and in space.

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The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) is an interglobal enterprise incorporated in Hawaii as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to help realize the multifunctional ILO – to advance human knowledge of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation from our Moon, and to participate in lunar base build out. The ILOA also co-sponsors with Space Age Publishing Company affiliate an international series of Galaxy Forums to educate and inspire people about Galaxy 21st Century Education and the wonders of the Cosmos. The ILOA is supported by a number of space luminaries world-wide including Director Emeritus John Young, commander of the Apollo 16 mission to the Moon.

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