This is first time that the FAA has granted clearance for a private company's commercial mission to fly to the moon. Moon Express, the Cape Canaveral-based start-up, intends send a spacecraft to the moon next year.
"The sky is not the limit for Moon Express -- it is the launchpad. This breakthrough ruling is another giant leap for humanity. Space travel is our only path forward to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children," Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, Inc., said in a statement.
"In the immediate future, we envision bringing precious resources, metals, and Moon rocks back to Earth. In 15 years, the Moon will be an important part of Earth's economy, and potentially our second home. Imagine that."
The spacecraft that Moon Express intends to send to the moon, the MX-1E, can transfer from Earth's orbit to the moon, make a soft landing and then hop around on the lunar surface, according to the FAA.
Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express, added in a statement today, "The Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the U.S. government and a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond the Earth's orbit. We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth's eighth continent, the Moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth's economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity."