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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Group Reveals First Commercial Lunar Mission in Transit

Los Angeles, CA, April 24, 1998 – The Space Frontier Foundation, a national media and policy organization, disclosed today that the operators of AsiaSat 3, a privately owned communications satellite stranded in a useless orbit last December, have maneuvered the spacecraft into an orbit that could swing by the Moon. According to data made available by the U.S. Air Force and the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, the orbit of AsiaSat 3 has been increased over the last month to send the spacecraft in the direction of the Moon, likely making this the first commercial operation in the lunar vicinity. AsiaSat 3 is almost 10 times the size of the Lunar Prospector satellite that recently discovered ice at the lunar poles.

According to David Anderman, a member of the Board of Directors of the Space Frontier Foundation, "the recent movement of the AsiaSat 3 satellite is likely a last ditch effort to use the Moon's gravity to swing the satellite into its intended geosynchronous orbit over the equator. AsiaSat 3 could be a $240 million write off to its insurers, so there's a great incentive to use out-of-the-box ideas to save the mission."

He added, "If this lunar maneuver works, AsiaSat 3 will not only be the first private spacecraft to operate in the vicinity of the Moon, but it will prove a long-held theory that certain launches to geosynchronous orbit can save fuel by flying a slingshot maneuver around the Moon. With water ice having been discovered at the lunar poles, and the coming revolution in space transportation, commercial missions to the Moon could become commonplace in the next decade."

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

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The Frontier Enabling Test
Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

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