the verge: It's the first time the government has granted regulatory approval for a private mission beyond Earth orbit. And Moon Express came very close to being denied permission to go. By Loren Grush
'No regulatory framework currently exists for a commercial space missions to another world. Lawmakers are working on a permanent solution, but it likely won't be ready in time for Moon Express' 2017 mission. So the company came up with its own temporary framework — a regulatory patch — that the US government could use to oversee the company's mission. And after a meeting between the Federal Aviation Administration, the White House, and the State Department, Moon Express has been given the approval it needs to launch to the Moon.
'So far, commercial companies have mostly just launched satellites into space; all specialized private missions, like launching cargo to the space station, have been overseen by NASA. That means Moon Express could be the first private company to land on the Moon, as well as the company that travels the farthest away from our planet.
'Moon Express' regulatory patch is only a temporary fix, though. Legislators are working on a long-term framework that will help the US government oversee private, deep-space missions. And it needs to happen soon, as space companies are getting more ambitious than ever. SpaceX announced its plans to send spacecraft to Mars in 2018, and Bigelow Aerospace wants to launch space hotels by 2020. Moon Express' lander is just the first of many deep-space private missions to come.'