The International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express have spent years working on their privately-backed, Moon-bound ILO-X telescope. Today, they can finally share the nuts-and-bolts details of their flight test hardware. Not surprisingly, the roughly shoebox-sized device won't come close to matching Hubble between its tiny 130mm, f/5.6 aperture and 6.4-megapixel resolution. However, oneupmanship isn't the point -- ILOA mostly wants its inaugural telescope to be accessible enough that schools, scientists and the public at large can get a peek at deep space through the internet. Most of the challenge rests in getting ILO-X to its ultimate destination. Moon Express won't deliver the telescope to the Moon until sometime in 2015, which will leave us waiting some time for another vantage point on the universe.
International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express Unveil Worlds' First Privately Sponsored Lunar Telescope to be Launched into Space and to the Moon in 2015
The ILO-X lunar telescope will pioneer a new era of global space research and citizen science with access for educators and the general public to innovative space observation & communication technology on the Moon
VANCOUVER, British Columbia and SILICON VALLEY, Calif., May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), based in Hawai`i and led by American businessman and educator Steve Durst , today unveiled flight test hardware for the first private telescope that will be launched to the Moon in 2015. Designed and built under contract from ILOA by Silicon Valley-based Moon Express, Inc., the International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X) will capture never before seen images of the Galaxies, Stars, Planets, Moon and Earth and be accessible to educators, researchers and the general public in a pioneering experiment to democratize access to space exploration.
The announcement was made at the ILOA Galaxy Forum Canada 2013 event that took place at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Aerospace Technology Campus in Vancouver, Canada on May 25th, on the anniversary of U.S. President Kennedy's famous "Moon speech" that led to the first human footprints on the Moon. Details of the flight instrument hardware were unveiled today and are available here. The ILO-X instrument will be on display and actively demonstrated during the Singularity University / Fox Studios "Backstage Pass to the Future" event on June 1st, 2013 in Los Angeles.
The ILO-X internet-based access and control system was tested on December 18th-20th, 2011, during a Global Demonstration from the Summit of Mauna Kea, hosted by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), when science teams and individuals from around the world accessed and operated a prototype of the instrument as if it were on the Moon. Astronomers from the USA mainland, Hawaii, China, India, Canada, Japan, Europe and Africa supported this historic demonstration of international collaboration and access to space exploration enabled through the commercial space sector.
The ILO-X is expanding the model of commercial space investment to the Moon to do science, education, exploration and commercial activities – such as Lunar Broadcasting of Space Calendar through affiliated Space Age Publishing Company. "The primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation from our Moon," said ILOA founder and director, Steve Durst . "We are extremely excited about sending the ILO-X to the Moon as soon as possible, and continuing our progress toward a permanent human presence on the Moon."
Lunar commerce company Moon Express has designed, built and delivered ILO-X flight hardware to ILOA, and in 2015 will deliver the ILO-X to the Moon as the first private space telescope to operate from the lunar surface, looking out at the Galaxy and heavens beyond and back at the Earth. About the size of a shoe-box with a mass of about 2 kgs, the ILO-X uses using innovative optical technology in combination with advanced software and microminiaturized electronics to deliver dramatic inspiring deep space images of objects inside and outside our Milky Way Galaxy. ILO-X technology could also help with the detection of dangerous asteroids and the search for planetary resources.
"We're excited to help the ILOA design, build and deliver the worlds' first private telescope to the Moon," said Bob Richards , co-founder and CEO of Moon Express. "This is inspirational space science and entrepreneurship at its best."
ILO-X will be at the vanguard of citizen science, available to researchers, educators and the general public through the internet, allowing the world to access astronomical images from the surface of the Moon and creating a new model of public participation and international collaboration.
The ILO-X is a precursor to the permanent installation of a larger and more powerful International Lunar Observatory at the South Pole of the Moon and other interglobal initiatives by ILOA and affiliated Space Age Publishing Company. On September 4, 2012, ILOA signed a historic MOU with the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC). In the first such USA / China collaboration, the parties agreed to establish a cooperative program to conduct Galaxy Astronomical Imaging for Global 21st Century Education using the Lunar Telescope of China's Chang'e-3 Moon Lander (scheduled for launch in 2013). With an exchange in kind, NAOC will receive observing time on the ILO-X and ILO-1 mission instruments (est. 2015). The MOU Signing Ceremony took place in Kamuela, Hawai`i Island, USA.