A private company for the first time has been given clearance by the U.S. government to fly beyond Earth’s orbit.
Moon Express, based in Florida, is the first firm to win permission from the US to send a robotic lander to the moon. The company will launch its suitcase-sized lander next year, where it will hang out on the moon for a couple of weeks.
This unprecedented move lays out the legal and regulatory framework for other potential commercial expeditions to the moon and beyond. Until now, only government agencies have sent spacecraft outside Earth’s orbit.
Other private ventures that may follow Moon Express’ move include Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.