Silicon Valley-based company Moon Express will send its ILO-X telescope to the Moon in 2015.
The telescope, a joint venture of Moon Express and the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), will be available as a webcam, allowing people to stream its current view on the web. It will be accessible to educators, researchers and the general public in a pioneering attempt to open access to space exploration.
"We are extremely excited about sending the ILO-X to the Moon as soon as possible, and continuing our progress toward a permanent human presence on the Moon," said Steve Durst, American businessman and founder of the ILOA.
The flight-test hardware of the telescope was unveiled at the beginning of June and put on public display during a Singularity University/Fox Studios 'Backstage Pass to the Future event' in Los Angeles.
About the size of a shoe-box with a mass of about 2kg, the ILO-X uses innovative optical technology in combination with advanced software and microminiaturised electronics to deliver dramatic deep-space images of objects inside and outside the Milky Way. ILO-X technology could also help with the detection of dangerous asteroids and the search for planetary resources.
It is set to become the first privately funded telescope on the lunar surface, and only the second in the history of space exploration. The first telescope ever used on the Moon was that of the astronaut John Young during the Apollo 16 mission. ILOA believes the project is the first step to building a much larger telescope on the Moon’s south pole.