SpaceDev has completed the first phase of a privately funded study to
design a low cost robotic return to the Moon. The study was performed
for Lunar Enterprise of California (LEC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Space Age Publishing Company), and follows an earlier SpaceDev Lunar
orbiter mission and spacecraft design project funded by Boeing. The
current study analyzes mission and spacecraft options for a Lunar Dish
Observatory to be placed near the south pole of the Moon.

“With Europe on the way to the Moon, Japan lunar missions set for
2004 and 2005, and India as well as China preparing to send a series
of robotic missions to the Moon culminating in a manned lander
mission, and with renewed interest by our own government in returning
to the Moon, SpaceDev seems to be in the right place at the right
time,” said SpaceDev founding chairman and chief executive Jim Benson.
“SpaceDev and others have been advocating the importance of a stronger
U.S. private sector presence in and beyond Earth orbit for years.
Recent public statements from high levels of government indicate more
focus on such private sector contracts and a return to the Moon.”

The SpaceDev study found that the south pole of the Moon is an
ideal location for a variety of activities including a dish-type
observatory. Certain areas near the pole experience extended periods
of sunlight for solar power and warmth, and are in direct line of
sight to communicate with the Earth. The study also found that
insufficient data exists to choose a precise landing spot and
describes the need for better navigation capabilities at and around
the Moon. SpaceDev expects to begin working on the next phase of the
study early next year.

The Lunar mission being designed by SpaceDev for LEC would save
money and reduce risk by using hardware and software technology
already developed by SpaceDev. In addition to incorporating its
miniature high performance CHIPSat flight computer and Internet-based
mission operation and control software, the study is examining the use
of SpaceDev’s clean, safe hybrid rocket motor technology developed
with government contracts and for the historic SpaceShipOne project.

SpaceDev estimates that its Lunar Dish Observatory lander mission
can be conducted for significantly less than the cost of previous
missions such as the successful $100 million NASA Lunar Prospector,
and the $150 million DoD Clementine orbiter (in today’s dollars).

About SpaceDev

SpaceDev creates and sells affordable and innovative
space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises.
Upon founding SpaceDev in 1997, Jim Benson started the trend of
successful computer entrepreneurs moving into the space development
arena. For more information, visit

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