UK to lead crowd-funded mission to set up moon base

Professor Brian Cox and Astronomer Royal Lord Rees support British-led plan to send a lander to the moon

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A British-led not-for-profit organisation plans to send a probe to the moon within ten years to explore the possibility of setting up a permanent human base on the lunar surface.

The Lunar Missions Trust, an independent consortium which has been endorsed by eminent scientists including Professor Brian Cox and the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, will hope to raise £500m from public donations for the project, the BBC reports.

In exchange for pledges of £3 upwards members of the public will have the opportunity to place photos, text or their DNA in the lander which will bury itself in the moon's surface.

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"Anyone in the world will be able to get involved for as little as just a few pounds. Lunar Mission One will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the moon," said David Iron of the Lunar Mission Trust, who is leading the project.

According to the trust's website, the mission's objectives include "the advancement of education and research in the fields of space science, engineering and technology and promotion of the applications thereof". It adds: "We want to ensure that a meaningful, substantial and inclusive global legacy is gained from the success of Lunar Mission One; a legacy of global education, public engagement in science and future space exploration."

The first four-week round of fundraising aims to raise £600,000 from the web-based crowd-funding platform Kickstarter.

The project has so far raised £19,000 from members of the public who can get behind the project with a small donation of no more than £3, place a photo, song or short video in the spacecraft's digital 'memory box' for £60, meet the team for £300 or have their name inscribed on the lander for £3,000.

In a short video promoting the mission, Professor Brian Cox said: "Lunar Mission One is not just about going to the moon and drilling a hole into it and analysing what the moon is made of and finding out where it came from, it generates inspiration, it is educationally valuable and it generates huge economic benefits here on earth."

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