Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Authority announced that Moon Express, a space exploration business owned by private U.S. citizens, had been approved to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2017.
Moon Express reportedly aims to land a robotic vehicle (an MX-1 lander) on the moon to maneuver it about the lunar surface and to beam images and data back to Earth. The mission is apparently a first step toward the venture's overall goal of developing and mining mineral resources of the moon.
Many will draw inspiration from this mission and the entrepreneurship and skill involved in devising it. Some also will be heartened by the fact that the U.S. government has adopted policies to facilitate the private exploration of space. From a legal point of view, though, this announcement raises some stimulating and, in some respects, unresolved issues.