Time capsule scheme offers immortality on the moon
The multi-million pound scheme is intended to provide funding for an ambitious private moon mission in 10 years time.
For less than 100 dollars (£64) members of the public will be invited to buy space on memory discs to be buried in a bore hole drilled into the lunar surface.
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Four billion-year-old material extracted from the hole - which could be up to 300 feet deep - will be made available to science.
British engineer and city financier David Iron, who came up with the plan, entitled Lunar Mission One, said: “People can put any information they like in the memory disc; it will be like a personal time capsule, a private archive. It could be a small message saying ‘hi, I’m Joe’ or a whole family history.
“We have carried out research and been quite surprised how keen people are. School kids think the idea of having a bit of themselves on the moon is fantastic.”
He added: “Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to fund space exploration that is solely for the advancement of human knowledge and understanding as opposed to commercial return.
“The world class team of advisers and supporters we have assembled will address this issue and crucially anyone from around the world can get involved for as little as a few pounds.”
Under the scheme there will be hundreds of discs, each one about two inches in diameter. People helping to fund the mission will be promised a small part of a disc on which to load information.
An initial development phase has been launched via the US crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, which raises cash for creative projects.
Individuals making pledges through Kickstarter will become lifetime members of the Lunar Missions Club and given access to information and experiences related to the mission.
They will also be offered the chance of seeing their name inscribed on the lunar lander that will carry the drill and memory discs to the moon.
The plan is to land on the lunar south pole, a favoured spot for future moon bases because it receives constant sunshine.
Rock drilled out of the lunar crust could be analysed in situ using a package of scientific instruments, or left behind for human moon explorers in years to come.
Mr Iron said business plan projections had shown that the global sale of memory disc space could raise enough to pay for the mission with money to spare.
“We’re looking to make billions in revenue,” he said. “It will be well in excess of the mission costs.”
A commercial rocket such as the Falcon 9, from private space transport pioneers SpaceX, could be used to send the discs to the moon, said Mr Iron.
His team has taken advice from RAL Space, part of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire, which contributed to the European Space Agency’s comet probe, Philae.
Philae hit the headlines by making a dramatic landing on a comet more than 300 million miles from Earth last week.
Professor Richard Holdaway, director of RAL Space, said: “Lunar Mission One is both ambitious and innovative, demonstrating an exciting way of enabling lunar exploration. Our experience in multiple and complex space missions will play a vital role in helping co-ordinate the project.”
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