It’s not a pizza company, and it’s not an offshoot of Planet Express from Futurama, but it does have futuristic elements to it. Founded in 2010 by some aerospace mavericks, Moon Express has been watching the moon from afar, studying its crevices and plotting journeys into its immense monochromatic embrace. Like Twinkies and ‘80s-style shoulder pads (consult the fashion magazines for confirmation), the moon is back in a big way–having never actually left, as evidenced by typical tide behavior–and ready for its close-up.

Back to the Moon, and Not a Moment Too Soon

I feel like an adventurer when I enter a store I haven’t previously visited, but the folks at Moon Express would laugh right in my face if I told them that. Making use of private investment instead of depending on government programs, they plan to employ all the innovative technology they can muster to not only get more spacecraft to the moon but also tap it for whatever resources they deem worthwhile. Rare elements, moon rocks, moon marshmallows, moon cheese; you name it, they’ll bring it back.

lander

Founded by entrepreneur Naveen Jain, Moon Express’s first task is getting the automated craft designed and ready, and they’re pushing ahead with the aim of a 2015 demonstration mission. If you can’t get excited for robots going to a massive ball of space rock to root about for precious items—like America’s gold rush but with lower gravity and fewer moustaches—then get out right now because you sicken me. Now that those squares are gone, have a look at the MX-1 lunar lander below, and really feel your anticipation swell with the music.

One of these days (most likely in 2015, as I previously mentioned), that adorable fellow will go bang, zoom, straight to the moon. When it gets there, it even stands a chance of finding a source of rocket fuel, which would give it the capability to extend its stay indefinitely and really get things done. It’s seemed likely for a long time that sooner or later we’d end up spreading out into the cosmos; humanity loves exploration, getting new stuff, and depleting resources, so the moon is the next frontier for big business.

How long is it before we’ll have a lunar base? I don’t know, but I think this is a pretty significant step. With Google throwing its near-limitless money around like confetti in a hurricane, we should at least be safe from another bout of arrested development like the one which followed the first spate of moon landings.

Go have a read through the Moon Express website (they even have round pictures of the staff, like they’re looking through spacecraft windows!) and sign up for their newsletter if you want to get updates, or maybe just buy a telescope and watch the night sky carefully for the entirety of 2015. Pick whichever approach suits your schedule and appreciation of majesty.