A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon within a decade.
The aims of Lunar Mission One, which is being delivered by UK-led holding company Lunar Missions Ltd, include the use of innovative new technology to drill for samples unaffected by cosmic radiation and meteor bombardment.
By drilling down to depths of between 20m and 100m, the mission will be able to access and analyse lunar rock dating back around 4.5 billion years for the first time. In doing so, the mission will provide new and significantly advanced insights into the origins and evolution of the Moon and Earth.
It will also inform the practicality of a permanent manned base at the lunar South Pole, the company said in a statement.
Partners and advisors include RAL Space, University College London, Open University and the Institute of Education.
Lunar Mission One is using crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to fund the development phase of the project. Supporters who make pledges to the project via Kickstarter will become lifetime members of the Lunar Missions Club with access to information and experiences relating to the project, from ‘Meet the Experts’ events to the opportunity to have their name inscribed on the lunar landing module.
Kickstarter backers will also receive rewards including a digital ‘memory box’ for inclusion in a 21st Century time capsule that will be sent to and buried in the Moon as part of Lunar Mission One.
Following the development phase, funded by Kickstarter, the remaining funding requirements of the project will primarily be met through sales of digital memory boxes to the general public, as well as through public sector and commercial backing.
Also included in the time capsule will be a publicly assembled, owned and authoritative record of life on Earth. This ‘public archive’ will include a record of human history and civilisation to date alongside a species database showing the biodiversity of animals and plants. The project will make the public archive available online both during development and afterwards so it can be developed further.
Education and inspiration are central to the mission, which aims to inspire a generation to learn more about space, science, engineering and technology through a worldwide programme of educational engagement.
All surplus funds raised from the project will go to a non-profit charitable Trust for supporting future space science and exploration.
David Iron, founder of Lunar Missions Ltd and the Lunar Missions Trust said: ‘Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to fund space exploration that is solely for the advancement of human knowledge and understanding as opposed to commercial return.
‘The world class team of advisors and supporters we have assembled will address this issue and crucially, anyone from around the world can get involved for as little as a few pounds.
‘Lunar Mission One will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the Moon and will inspire a generation to learn more about space, science and engineering – in the same way that my generation was inspired by the Apollo Moon landings.’