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April 21, 2014 | 09:29 AM
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06.09.2013Fly Me To The Moon: The Next Emerging Market

Some people have their eye on even more exotic investments.


Sanjeev Sardana, Forbes.com

It’s been no secret that the equity market bonanza this year has been the exclusive domain of U.S., and to a lesser extent, European stocks.  Emerging markets from Asia to South America have not nearly enjoyed the returns that equities closer to home have reaped for investors. Obviously these things tend to be cyclical, and from a long-term perspective, emerging markets will perform better as investors begin to appreciate the growth opportunities that exist in less mature economies.

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But some people have their eye on even more exotic investments.

In my last post “The Best Advice Is A Custom Fit” I wrote about the unique ways in which I work with clients.  An example of that came about on July 25th when I organized an event for some of my clients and their families to visit the headquarters of Moon Express (MoonEx), Inc. at the NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, California.  My guests were treated to a glimpse of the type of venture that only comes along once in a lifetime.

Founded by Dr. Bob Richards, Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell in August 2010, MoonEx is a privately funded lunar resource company with a mission to establish commercial mining activities on the Moon that will benefit life on Earth.

The idea behind the company is a basic one.  The Earth has finite resources that will not sustain civilization’s needs exponentially.  The Moon, an ore body with the land area of the American continents, is a repository of vast untapped resources.

Many of our most desired resources exist on the Moon for the same reasons they do on Earth – eons of asteroid bombardment.  However in the case of the moon, since it cooled much faster than the Earth, scientists believe most asteroid resources are on or near the moon’s surface and therefore much easier to retrieve.

Moon Express combines Silicon Valley lean start-up principles with expertise in aerospace engineering and planetary sciences. Selected by Forbes as one of the ‘Names You Should Know’ in 2011, Moon Express plans to send a series of low-cost robotic missions to the Moon focused on opening up the resources of the celestial body for the benefit of mankind.

The company officially entered the Google GOOG +0.89% Lunar XPRIZECompetition in October 2010. There are 22 groups competing for the Grand Prize – $20 million to the first team to put a lander on the moon and deliver data, images and video from the landing site and 500 meters away by December 2015.  MoonEx believes that they will land its robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface in mid to late 2015.

None of this is pie-in-the-sky dreaming.  MoonEx believes it is the leading candidate to win the Google competition.  In 2010, they entered into a partnership with NASA to develop a robotic lunar lander. The company has also claimed to have successfully test fired the first of three new rocket engine designs that will satisfy their main propulsion and spacecraft control requirements.

In the last analysis, MoonEx believes that that there are trillions of dollars of accessible precious resources on the Moon, and that they will be profitable from their first mission, which is estimated to cost only $50 million, a fraction of what government missions would cost.

And unlike most other emerging market investment opportunities, government instability and social upheaval are not going to be an issue.

At least not yet.



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