A private company plans to mount the first commercial mission to the Moon as a step toward a private lunar sample return flight around 2020. Moon Express, Inc., a strong contender in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition, says it will mount a follow-on mission to the Moon’s South Pole in partnership with the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), one of the piggyback customers for its X-Prize entry. That mission in 2016-18 could lead in turn to a robotic ...

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