Shooting the Moon


From the indispensable comes the news that the first privately launched vehicle to hit the moon is "80 to 90 percent" certain to launch this October or November. Anyone can add payload to it at $2,500 a gram. The vehicle, sent up by TransOrbital, Inc., will be aptly dubbed Trailblazer, and will launch from a Russian site.

From the account:

Trailblazer will orbit the Moon for about three months, sending back high-quality and potentially saleable photos of Apollo landing sites, plus HDTV-quality video that might be sold for advertising use. Data will be collected to create a new, high-resolution lunar map, also potentially saleable.

The craft will then de-orbit and disintegrate upon impact. Some 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of personal effects will remain intact, housed in a protective capsule that will tunnel 13-16 feet (4-5 meters) into the lunar surface.