From Mining to Space Travel, Lunar Exploration Companies Think Big

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On this day 50 years ago, Earthlings saw the first picture of their home planet from the moon. Now, humans are looking back to the moon — this time for commercial reasons.
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It's been 50 years since we got the first view of our planet from the moon's orbit. Taken on this day in 1966, the crude black and white photograph from NASA shows a crescent Earth in the background with the moon in the foreground. The image (below) was among the first to give perspective on just how small our home planet actually is.

Humans haven't been to the moon in decades, but earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration gave approval to Moon Express to be the first private company to send a robotic lander to the lunar surface.

Moon Express' stated mission is to "develop and mine the resources of the moon." On its website, its co-founders envision a future where Moon Express brings resources back to Earth, and even uses the moon as a base for further space travel.

People have been talking about lunar mining or even colonization as real, if distant, possibilities, and Moon Express might be taking the first step. Jason Kendall, adjunct professor of astronomy at William Paterson University, explains. Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear our full conversation.