NASA and the British government plan to
work together to launch a British probe to the moon by 2012, the BBC
learned. NASA described the Moonlite mission as "inspirational"
and it should "fill just the right gap in the U.S. agency's
British scientists have also shown
interest in creating several scientific observation points on the
moon. The main objective involves launching a satellite that
will enter the moon's orbit and then fire four "penetrators"
into the lunar surface at 1,080 KPH. The darts will then
activate equipment to monitor "moonquakes" to help
scientists learn more about the physical and chemical components of
"At the moment, it is extremely
likely that it will happen," said Alan Smith, project lead
researcher at the Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory. "We've
got to get our ducks in order, but I think the plan ticks all the
right boxes and it's extremely likely that we will have the first
British mission to the moon launched in 2012.
sides agree to the terms of tentative deal, NASA will officially hop
onboard next summer. The ambitious India Space Research
Organization (ISRO) also may join the U.K.-led space initiative.
U.S. space agency continues to work alongside international partners,
while China remains the only space nation not chosen to work
alongside NASA. More space-ready nations either have launched
or plan to launch missions to study the moon and its unique surface
-- probes launched by Japan and China already provided images and
video of the lunar surface.