In a history making move, the U.S. is set to approve the first private space mission to go beyond the Earth's orbit.
The move would clear the way for a space startup company, Moon Express, to drop a 20-pound package of scientific equipment on the lunar surface next year – opening up a new era in space exploration, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Moon Express is vying for the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize "for the first privately funded team that develops a spacecraft to land on the Moon, traverse its surface and transmit photos and videos," the newspaper reports.
"We believe it's critical for humanity to become a multi-world species and that our sister world, the moon, is an eighth continent holding vast resources that can help us enrich and secure our future," according to the Moon Express
"The moon is unique in that its surface has remained relatively constant over billions of years."
Moon Express is eventually planning to mine the moon for metals that are rare on Earth.
"Most of the elements that are rare on Earth are believed to have originated from space, and are largely on the surface of the moon."
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