Los Angeles, CA, May 13, 1998 The Space Frontier Foundation applauds the reaching of the Moon today by the HGS-1 satellite, which has thereby become the first privately funded Lunar mission. The spacecraft, formerly known as AsiaSat 3, was originally placed in a useless orbit due to a launch failure. It was then re-directed by its owners at Hughes Global Services so that it could use the Moon's gravity to reach a useful orbit. The Space Frontier Foundation announced to the world on April 24 of this year that the spacecraft's operators were planning to attempt a lunar swing-by, and has been following the progress of HGS-1 closely since then.
"This marks the arrival of the private sector at the Moon, just at the moment in time when Congress is debating whether to rely on the private sector for future space exploration missions," says David Anderman, director of the Foundation's HGS-1 project. "A current bill pending before the Senate, HR-1702, would allow the government to purchase science data about the Moon and the asteroids from private companies, and the HGS-1 Lunar mission shows that private missions to the Moon are a reality."
Although Hughes is the first private company to operate a spacecraft in deep space, there are several other private companies that are planning exploratory missions to the Moon and the asteroids, including LunaCorp, Inc., which plans a commercial Lunar rover, and SpaceDev, Inc. which is developing an asteroid survey mission.