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Indo-American may mine moon

world Updated: Apr 11, 2011 00:39 IST

PTI
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A Silicon Valley start-up, founded by an Indian-American entrepreneur, plans to mine the moon and is in the process of building robotic rovers that will search the lunar surface for precious metals and rare metallic elements.

Moon Express Inc or MoonEx, co-founded by Naveen Jain, is building the robotic rovers alongside scientists at NASA's Ames Research Centre near San Jose. While there is no guarantee that the moon is "flush" with these materials, MoonEx thinks it "may be a gold mine of so-called rare earth elements."

"From an entrepreneur's perspective, the moon has never truly been explored," the report quoted Jain, chairman and company co-founder, as saying.

"We think it could hold resources that benefit Earth and all humanity." MoonEx's machines are designed to look for materials that are scarce on Earth but found in everything from a Toyota Prius car battery to guidance systems on cruise missiles, the report added.

“MoonEx should be ready to land on the lunar surface by 2013," Jain said. "It's our goal to be the first company there and stay there." MoonEx comprises 25 employees, including former NASA engineers, and has received a NASA contract worth up to USD 10 million.

The company is among several others that hope to win the Google Lunar X Prize 30 million dollar competition that requires a privately-funded team to successfully land a robot on the moon's surface.