“We went to the moon 50 years ago, yet today we have more computing power with our iPhones than the computers that sent men into space”
Naveen Jain is going to the moon—at least his company is. As Founder and Chairman of Moon Express he’s currently building a robotic spacecraft that will launch to the moon in 2016. In fact, Moon Express became the first company to successfully test a prototype of a lunar lander at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, earlier this year. But he’s not just going into space for the fun of it; (although, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea) he’s actually got a business in mind: mining the moon.
“Show me the stars, and I’ll show you the money!”
As the world continues to use up key resources, entrepreneurs like Jain start to get creative. You see, he understands that mere conservation is not enough to ensure that the standard of living for future generations will continue to rise. Jain surmises that instead of just focusing on using less energy and resources, we have to find new sources of energy to replace the old. That’s where the moon comes in.
“The moon has never been explored from an entrepreneurial perspective”
It turns out that our moon holds precious metals and rare minerals like gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, and tungsten that can be brought back to help address Earth’s energy, health and resource challenges. Valuable minerals are so plentiful on the moon that it’s estimated to contain “20 times more titanium and platinum than anywhere on Earth.” It also has an other-worldly advantage—helium 3. Helium 3 is nonexistent here on earth, and many feel it could be the future of energy on Earth and in space.
“It’s not just a fun project—it’s also a great business.”
While Jain has estimated the total value of the moon’s resources at close to 16 quadrillion dollars, profit is not all that he’s interested in. The highly successful billionaire entrepreneur sees his venture as a way to benefit the world’s population in a far greater way than simple charity. Jain is particularly interested in the idea of giving back and improving the lives of those in poverty, since as a child, living in rural India, he witnessed its effects each day. He believes that the best way to give back is to create technologies and innovations that improve the world, stating that “True philanthropy requires a disruptive mindset, innovative thinking and a philosophy driven by entrepreneurial insights and creative opportunities.”
If successful, the mission will be a breakthrough and likely cement Moon Express as one of the preeminent space mining companies of the future. And with other companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic contributing to innovations surrounding space travel, it is likely to become a commercial enterprise a lot sooner than most people think. In fact, Jain hopes that in 15 to 20 years the moon will serve as a stopover for interplanetary travel and exploration. One thing is sure, outer space is on the brink of becoming commercially accessible and I wouldn’t rather have anyone else at the helm than great minds like Naveen Jain, Elon Musk and Richard Branson.