Comercialising the Moon: the Lunar X Prize and beyond

‘Some people argue that the first group of trillionaire entrepreneurs will be involved in the commercialisation of space,’ said Michael Potter, leader of the first team to register for the Lunar X Prize, Odyssey Moon. Based on the Isle of Man,

The race is on to tap into the commercial potential of the Earth’s nearest neighbour

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the last manned voyage to the Moon. The Apollo 17 astronauts, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt (the latter, a geologist, the only scientist-astronaut of the Apollo programme) left the Moon on 17 December 1972, leaving behind them a plaque bearing the words: ’Here man completed his first explorations of the Moon.’

With the last mission of the space shuttle underway and NASA’s plans for future manned missions to space seemingly on hold, it might seem odd to talk about the Moon as a target for exploration. But for a number of organisations, the race to the moon is back on, with the prize of increased scientific knowledge and, some are convinced, of enormous financial gains.

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