Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Commercial Moon Launch Planned by US Company on Russian Booster for Spring
The first commercial mission will be boosted to the Moon in the spring of 2007 known as Lunar Trailblazer [video] by TransOrbital, Inc., on a Russian Dniepr-1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The La Jolla, California-based firm has been planning the lunar trek for years and has obtained the necessary permits from the U.S. Department of State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Upon making orbit, the Lunar Trailblazer will fire a solid rocket boosting it to trans lunar injection (TLI) to the Moon. On lunar orbit, the spacecraft will commence data collection for a high-resolution lunar surface atlas and take images of the Apollo era hardware left on the Moon between 1969 and 1972.
Since the lunar gravity is unsteady, the spacecraft will not be able to maintain orbit after its fuel supply lapses. The spacecraft will crash into the surface carrying a special commercial capsule.
Thousands of people have paid to have messages, business cards, art or the ashes of loved ones sent to the moon on the Trailblazer robotic probe, which if successful will slam into the lunar surface and smash any doubt about the commercialization of space. In all, 22 pounds of personal effects will remain intact, housed in a protective capsule that will tunnel 13-16 feet into the lunar surface.