An artist illustration of the Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander on the surface of the moon. Courtesy: Moon Express Inc.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government for the first time has given permission to a private Florida company to fly a spaceship beyond Earth's orbit and land on the moon.
The Federal Aviation Administration gave clearance Wednesday to Moon Express to land a washing machine-sized vehicle on the moon that would take hops across the lunar surface.
Moon Express CEO Bob Richards says the first $10 million mission is scheduled to launch late next year, probably out of New Zealand. His firm has five customers, including a company that is selling the opportunity to take people's ashes to the moon. His parents' ashes will be on the flight.
However, Richards says his firm hasn't finished building the lander and the private rocket the company hopes to use has never flown before.