Lunar Mission One, a private venture by British engineers and scientists to land a robot on the Moon in the next decade, has reached its target funding on Kickstarter.
The campaign, launched in mid-November, saw over 7,000 people backing the project with an overall investment of more than £650,000.
Proposed by former Royal Navy Engineering Officer and technology consultant David Iron, Lunar Mission One targets an unexplored area of the Moon around its South Pole.
The robotic spacecraft, the team envisions, will drill a 20m-deep hole into the lunar crust to access geological material which hasn’t changed in the past four and a half billion years.
The drill, suspended on a special wire, will be sunk completely into the borehole after extracting the previous segment of lunar rock where it will anchor itself to the sides of the 2.5cm-wide hole.
The Lunar Mission One team has partnered with RAL Space to build and design the spacecraft, which, as the group described, will feature a built-in propulsion system with one or four main engines to lower itself smoothly from the lunar orbit to the surface.
With the help of additional thrusters, the lander will perform a controlled descent onto the target area supported by additional thrusters for better control.
The spacecraft, the group foresees, will be carried into space aboard a medium-lift rocket, the type of SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
Once the drilling commences, a dexterous robotic arm will be removing segments of the rock to be analysed by instruments aboard the spacecraft.
The lander will be powered by state-of-the art solar panels.
To attract public interest, the mission will carry a ‘time capsule’ with messages from the mission partners and backers as well as a ‘comprehensive digital record of the history of humankind and the biosphere of the Earth’.
The time capsule will be eventually inserted into the empty borehole, where it will be secured and left for future.
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