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Looking towards the stars – and the moon – with The Sky Tonight!

Pete Singleton (centre) with astronomer David Roberts from the St Neots Astronomical Association (L) and special guest Darryl Cooper from Lunar Mission One's UK Chapter

On Tuesday 9 August, our monthly astronomy show The Sky Tonight was privileged to have a very special guest.

Darryl Cooper, a local man living in Huntingdon and co-lead of the UK Chapter of Lunar Mission One (LMO), an exciting project to land a robotic craft on the South Pole of the moon, was invited along by presenter Pete Singleton to talk about this unique mission.

Perhaps the most inspiring odyssey to the moon since the glory days of the manned lunar landings of the late 60s and early 70s, LMO is a crowd funded venture using the Kickstarter platform.  It will not only undertake world-leading scientific work into the origin of the moon and planets but also leave deep within the moon’s surface a permanent archive of life on earth which will last millions of years.

Darryl said that backers of the project can create their own digital memory box – a sort of time capsule – where images and information can be stored and in this way, a permanent record of humankind on earth will eventually be stored on the moon.  There is also the opportunity to send a human hair which naturally contains a person’s DNA and this will also be stored in the time capsule – probably the nearest that most of us will ever have of a presence on the moon!

LMO is an international endeavour and a not for profit charitable organisation and is backed by some of the most respected names in the space industry. Darryl told our listeners that the idea was founded right here in the UK by David Iron, a former Royal Navy Engineering Officer and remains a trustee of the Lunar Missions Trust and Lunar Missions Ltd.

The international chapters were formed to establish a network of local enthusiasts to undertake marketing and promotion and to plan educational activities and currently in addition to the UK, there are chapters in countries that include India, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, USA, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Pakistan.  Darryl said he was absolutely overwhelmed when he was accepted as co-lead for the UK Chapter and looks on his appointment as a great privilege.

One of the UK Chapter’s current projects is involving schools in projects where children can create stories and information as a way of contributing and raising awareness of LMO and there are already many schools nationwide getting excited and involved.

The robotic craft is expected to launch in about 2024, with backing and other funding already on target.  The launch is expected to be by a private space company.

You can listen again to this edition of The Sky Tonight via the website’s podcast page:https://www.hcrfm.co.uk/on-air/podcasts/ and more information on the LMO project can be found by visiting their website:https://lunarmissionone.com/