Moon Express is the first private outfit to get the OK from the U.S. government to go where few have gone before: the moon. The upstart space exploration company is competing for Google's Lunar XPrize, worth as much as $25 million. The first privately-financed group to get to the moon before the end of 2017 win. The only moon shots until now have been by national space programs of the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

FAA Green Lights Private Company’s Moon-Shot

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Cape Canaveral-based Moon Express is the first private space company to receive permission to head the moon.

The Federal Aviation Administration gave the Cape Canaveral based company the green light to send a spacecraft to the lunar surface.

Moon Express wants to send a lunar lander to the surface where it will hop from place to place.

It hopes to mine resources from the lunar surface, like water and helium, to eventually establish a lunar fuel station for future mission.

The private company stemmed from Google’s X-Prize, a program offering $30 million reward for the first company to make it back to the moon. Google offers additional rewards for other tasks like exploring the surface.

Moon express wants to start launches next year. The company announced plans to take over Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complexes 17 and 18.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the approval doesn’t set a precedent yet. Any future payloads heading to the moon will need approval from the FAA before launch.

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