MOON EXPRESS -Expanding the Earth's Economic and Social Sphere to the Moon . ROCKET LAB is ready for business


On August 19, 2011 the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) acquired a high resolution image of the Apollo 12 landing site.  






The complete list of historic missions to the moon, here.

All MX's  spacecrafts start their mission in Low-Earth Orbit

MX-1 Scout Class Explorer

This single stage spacecraft can deliver up to 30kg to the lunar surface. Like the others, it starts its exploration from Low-Earth Orbit. Built with advanced carbon composites and silicates, the PECO rocket engine used is eco-friendly fueled. The MX-1 is available as an orbiter, a lander and can be configured as a deep space probe.

MX-2 Scout Class Explorer

The MX-2's configuration doubles the capability of the MX-1 in cislunar space. With more space and power available, it can carry more payloads and/or reach Venus or even Mars' moons. Compatible with existing and emergent launch vehicles (like the Rocket Lab's Electron), the MX-2 will bring bigger possibilities for low cost exploration and commerce. Also, available as an orbiter, a lander, it can be configured as a single or dual deep space probe.

MX-5 Discovery Class Explorer

Equipped by 5 PECO engines delivering power level at ~6.9 - 9.8 km/s ΔV,  the MX-5 can carry 150 kg to Low-Lunar Orbit. With its multiple configurations, it can support a landing on the Moon as well as maintain cislunar operations. Outfitted with MX-1 or MX-2 staged systems, it can reach the entire solar system. Available asan orbiter and a lander, it can be configured in deep space probe as well as a sample return vehicle.

MX-9 Frontier Class Explorer

MX-9 will support robust lunar sample return operations. Like the MX-5, it can be outfitted with MX-1 or MX-2 staged systems that can deliver over 10 km/s ΔV and extend its reach to the solar system, and beyond. 
With its 9 PECO engines, the MX-9 can also deliver up to 500 kg to the lunar surface from the Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). Also available as an orbiter,  a lander,  a deep space probe and asample return spacecraft.

2018 -Second Mission: The Moon Express' MX family of flexible, scalable robotic explorers are capable of reaching the Moon and other solar system destinations from the Earth's orbit.




At the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Annual Meeting in 2017, Moon Express presented its Fabulous project about the MOON.

2018, First Mission: MX-1 Scout Class Explorer. 


Credit: Moon Express

Apollo's missions to the Moon have confirmed that, its resources are largely on or near the surface, so they are very accessible. Also, recently, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission to the Moon has found the presence of huge quantities of water (H20). With lunar's water and resources, it is possible to create new spheres of economics' activities for the Earth's customers.

In the space industry, it is a fact that, water supports life but also, when transformed in its constituents of Hydrogen (H2) and Oxygen, can be used as rocket fuel for almost all engines.

Moon Express knows much work is needed before its economic exploitation becomes a reality. So, to charter at low cost scientific expeditions, commercial payloads and multiple applications to distant worlds, the company will use many MX spacecrafts. 

Because all missions of Moon Express start in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), its MX spacecrafts have to be launched there by rockets. In order to reach this orbit, the company has signed a contract for 5 launches with Rocket LabUSA, scheduled to start in 2018.

The Initial mission will beto test system performance and durability

For its initial mission, MX-1 will be configured as an Orbiter and injected into Low-Lunar Orbit (LLO). In its travel, it will map the global distribution of  Oxide-Hydroxides (OH) and Water (H2O), studying their concentrations on the surface and their variations in time. 

The possible orbital measurements: 3 μm water band, bistatic radar, neutron mapping of H2 at high resolution

This mission will start in 2018 with the commercial Lunar Scout Expedition. Its objective is to prove the cost effectiveness of entrepreneurial approaches about space exploration. To do so, it will be carrying payloads from the International Lunar Observatory, “MoonLight” by the INFN National Laboratories of Frascati and the University of Maryland, and a Celestis memorial flight.

Following completion of operations supporting its Lunar Scout expedition partners, Moon Express will attempt to win the $20M Google Lunar XPRIZE.

Distribution of Pyroclastic

Rima Bode

In its second 2018 segment, the MX-1 spacecraft converted into a Lander, will study Rima Bode, a region rich in Pyroclastic (volcanic rock). To do so, the Lander will be equipped with two instruments mounted under it. After their close contacts to the surface, it will take APX one hour to determine the chemical composition of pyroclastic and the Neutron Spectrometer to measure the hydrogen deposit in the upper meter of the regolith .

Scientific value - Primitive, unmodified magmas from the deep mantle / Source regions contain volatiles / Eruption mechanisms, dynamics - source of deep-seated rock fragments?

Resource value - Uniform, fine-grained deposits - easy feedstock for resource processing / Solar wind gas content may be enhanced in pyroclastic; if so, a potential “ore” deposit for H2 recovery.

The Lunar Outpost Expedition will be followed by a landing in the South Pole in 2020. Here, Moon Express will set up the first lunar research outpost, to prospect water and useful minerals.

Landing sites proposed on either Malapert peak (C) or Leibniz β (E). There, we have a constant Earth view and the sunlight > 80% of lunar day. 

It is a vast and regional dark mantling deposit (~7000 km2) / High-Ti content (black glass?) / Embayed by (older than) maria 3.5 billion years old / Complex vent and rille system associated with eruption / Near center of near side (12º N, 3º W); smoothed terrain of lunar ash beds / Xenoliths from deep in the Moon may be found near vent

By 2020, the business phase will begin with the Harvest Moon Expedition, it will be the first commercial samples return mission. Privately owned, these Moon materials will be used to benefit science as well as commercial interests. 


Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space by providing frequent launch opportunities to Low-Earth Orbit. Since its creation in 2006 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab has delivered a range of complete rocket systems and technologies for fast and affordable payload deployment.

Rocket Lab is a private company, with major investors such as Khosla VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, Data Collective, Promus Ventures, Lockheed Martin and K1W1.

The Electron’s first stage is powered by nine Rutherford engines giving a lift off thrust of 162 kN (34,500 lbf), with a peak of 192 kN (41,500 lbf). The Rutherford engine provides an ISP of 303 sec.

The Rutherford is the first oxygen/kerosene engine to use a 3D machine taking about 24 hours to print all its primary components. This new propulsion cycle designed in-house for the Electron, provides a reduction of mass by replacing hardware with software, that brings light-weight rockets and light-weight costs to customers. 

Credit: Rocket Lab

Designed and manufactured in-house at Rocket Lab, Electron and its payload fairing of 1.2 meter are made of advanced carbon composite materials for a strong and lightweight structure.

Also, through an extensive research program, the company has developed impressive  low weight carbon composite tanks compatible with liquid oxygen.

What about the Second Stage

As seen in the videos above, the second stage engine has already qualified for space exploration. It uses a variant of the Rutherford Engine providing improved performance in vacuum conditions and a total thrust of 22 kN (5,000 lbf). With an ISP of 333 sec, it can carry a reasonable payload of 225 kg to LEO.

Rocket Lab can also tailor its 17 m high Electron to specific missions with a range of Sun-Synchronous altitudes in circular or elliptical orbits. At these altitudes of about 500 km with inclinations between 39 and 98 degrees, it can ship a nominal payload of 150 kg. 

Fast integration brings lower cost

To eliminate the risk of cascading delays and to enable customers to have standby payloads ready to go, Rocket Lab has an innovative approach.

Traditionally, as with NASA, the process is to integrate the payloads at the launch site. However, with the Rocket Lab's "Plug-In Payload" module, the customer can choose to manage this process using their own preferred facilities and staff. Environmentally-controlled or sealed payload modules are transported back to the company where their integration with the Electron vehicle occurs in a few hours.

This process is simple, fast and cheap.