US Company to Offer Commercial Moon Travel

August 4, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. payload / ˈpeɪˌloʊd / (n.) – something carried by an aircraft or spacecraft
Example: The spacecraft is able to carry a payload of 50 pounds.

2. cofound / koʊˈfaʊnd / (v.) – to start a business or organization with another person
Example: The school director cofounded the academy with his best friend.

3. draft / dræft / (v.) – to make a rough version of something
Example: She drafted a welcome speech during her short break.

4. in place / ɪn pleɪs / (idiom) – in use or active
Example: New office policies were put in place after the change in the company’s management.

5. familiar / fəˈmɪl yər / (adj.) – having broad knowledge about something
Example: The student is very much familiar with the lessons.


Read the text below.
A start-up company in the United States has filed for approval to fly a private mission to the moon.

In April this year, US company Moon Express applied to the US government for a permit to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The craft would carry a payload of around 20 pounds and is set to be launched in 2017. If approved, Moon Express’s mission would be the first flight to space not done by a government agency.

Moon Express is a Florida-based company cofounded by Bob Richards, Naveen Jain, and Barney Pell. Richards is also the cofounder of the International Space University, and Jain is the former CEO of an Internet-related company. Meanwhile, Pell is a former scientist from NASA. Moon Express began in August 2010 and currently has 40 employees.

Moon Express is one of the companies contending for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE. In order to qualify for the prize worth around $20 million, contenders have to complete a commercial space mission to the moon by 2017 and send back high-quality photos and videos.

The US government is currently drafting temporary rules on regulating space flights by private companies, as there are currently no rules in place for commercial space activities. Meanwhile, the US Congress is working on more permanent regulations that are meant to govern space flights of private companies in the future.

The approval for Moon Express’s mission is yet to come, as the matter is still being deliberated by various government agencies. However, according to sources familiar with the project, it is likely that Moon Express’s application will be approved.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that people would travel to space if companies started offering commercial space flights? Why or why not?
·         What are the possible drawbacks of commercial space flights? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         Do you think that people should make a business out of space travel? Why or why not?
·         If you were to start a space-related business, what would it be and why?

August 4, 2016