The International Lunar Observatory (ILO) is a multi-national, multi-wavelength astrophysical observatory, power station and communications center that is planned to be operational near the South Pole of the lunar surface as early as 2009.
The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) is the organization that supports the ILO and its follow-on missions through timely, efficient and responsible utilization of human, material and financial resources of spacefaring nations, enterprises and individuals.
The ILO mission was conceived during the historic International Lunar Conference 2003 (5 th meeting of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG)). A distinguished panel of lunar scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, advocates and others gathered to discuss the next vital step in human exploration of the Moon within the decade. What manifested was the Hawaii Moon Declaration, a one-page “Ad Astra per Luna” manifesto, written and signed by conference participants. Soon after the positive momentum, the ILO mission began to take shape.
An ILO Advisory Committee was established in 2005, consisting of about 50 supporters from the international science, commerce and space agency communities. The Committee convened for the ILO Workshop in November 2005 on Hawaii Island to discuss the organizational, scientific/technical and financial/legal direction of the ILO.
Pivotal to the success of the ILO is the cooperation and support of the world’s major spacefaring powers, most notably the USA, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, and Russia. Fundamental to ILO advancement are the private and commercial enterprises–which catalyze, organize and help attract the support of nations. The impetus behind a unified international mission is to engage the human and material resources of these nations, enterprises and individuals into a pioneering and peaceful mission that benefits all of humanity.
The formation of the ILOA in 2006 has initiated multiple outreaches, strategies and communications with supporters of the ILO. Relationships with Mauna Kea Support Services, Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), West Hawaii Astronomy Club, the Onizuka Space Center and the Hawaii Island Space Exploration Society, have been established.
The ILO was presented to Canada Astronomical Society (CASCA) in Calgary in June 2006, as well as the Canada Aeronautics Space Institute and the International Institute for Space Law conference at McGill University in Montreal in June 2006. The ILOA has neighborly (CB: we share the same front lawn) relations with CFHT, allies in the Canada Space Agency as well as Optech and MDA.
For several years, the ILOA has shared strong rapport and mutual support with chief China lunar scientist Ouyang Ziyuan, who explicitly has advocated a telescope on China’s first lunar lander Chang’e-2 mission. An ILO astronomy MOU was established with National Astronomical Observatories R&D Planning and Funding Director Suijian Xue in April. Additional rapport and ILO interest exist with Shanghai Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China National Space Administration and the Chinese Society of Astronautics.
The ILO has direct support within the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, most notably with ISRO PRL Council Chairman and cosmologist UR Rao, lunar scientist Narendra Bhandari, current ISRO Chair Madhavan Nair.
Italy was the site of the 2005 Moonbase Symposium, which received widespread Italy industry and academia support. Italy is also the site of the 2007 ILEWG conference. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) has established agreements with China and Germany on lunar rover mission planning.
Support for ILO efforts exist within the Japan Aerospace Exploration Association, notably with lunar scientists Kohtaro Matsumoto, Susumu Sasaki, Yoshisada Takizawa and Hitoshi Mizutani.
The ILOA has rapport with prominent Russia lunar scientists Vladislav Shevchenko, Viacheslav Ivashkin and Erik Galimov.
A study performed by ILO prime contractor SpaceDev states that the first ILO mission can be launched, landed and operated within a modest budget of under $50 million USD. The strategy to fund this mission includes securing $10 million in investments (possibly at $2 million a year for five years) from various supportive government entities. These entities include science and space agencies/institutions, of Hawaii (USA), Canada, China, India, Europe, Japan, and Russia. Commercial sponsorship from high-tech companies such as Google, Cisco, Yahoo and others is also sought, as well as endowments from philanthropic groups and individuals.
“Malapert” Mountain: Located about 122 kilometers from the Lunar South Pole, the adjacent mare plain just north of the 5-kilometer high “Malapert” Mountain is the intended landing region for the ILO. Near-constant sunlight (thought to be 89% full, 4% partial) provides an energy-rich environment, and the lunar peak enjoys continuous line-of-sight to Earth and direct Earth-Moon communications. The mountain dominates its surrounding area for an excellent vantage point and is near enough to expected water ice deposits -- which can be utilized for oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel -- around the Lunar South Pole (Shackleton Crater, Aitken Basin). Given these factors, Malapert Mountain is considered to be the most suitable location for the ILO to conduct astronomy and catalyze commercial lunar development and human lunar base build-out.
In 2003, the Lunar Enterprise Corporation (LEC) hired SpaceDev of Poway, CA to serve as the prime contractor for the ILO. A Phase A feasibility study conducted by SpaceDev concluded that “it is possible to design and carry out a private commercial lunar landing mission within the next several years. The Phase B study, conducted the following year, recommended researching a safe and accurate lunar landing navigation system that can deliver the ILO to a ‘ Peak of Eternal Light .’ Also concluded was the possibility of landing the ILO to a specific target within an accuracy of about 100 meters using “currently available commercial technology.” The ILO will utilize a mix of leading-edge propulsion, inertial navigation, and celestial navigation together with established Earth based deep space tracking to achieve the required accuracy.
An International Lunar Observatory/Association (ILO/A) Master Plan was completed in February of 2006 by Optech Space Division Director and ISU co-founder Bob Richards. The plan outlines how to build the ILO/A as a science, organizational and commercial entity that operates within the scope of investor markets, equity players, management, industry, and customers. Key players include Space Age Publishing Company, Lunar Enterprise Corporation, Space-X (of Europe), the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Hawaii and countries such as China, India, and Russia. International MOUs would be established between the ILOA and the key players, exchanging science data and commercial communications for principal funding.
The ILO will serve as a multi-wavelength astrophysical observatory that will utilize VLF, millimeter, submillimeter, and optical wavelengths. Scientific objectives of the ILO include imaging the galactic center; analyzing interstellar molecules to determine the origin of the solar system; searching for NEOs and Earth-like planets; Earth observations; planetary and solar observations; and searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
The ILO has the potential for interferometrical buildout, much like the Harvard-Smithsonian Submillimeter Array on Mauna Kea that operates the first such observatory (eight mobile antennas at six meters each operating interferometrically). Another example of cutting-edge interferometry is the 64-dish Atacama Large Millimeter Array being constructed at 5,000 meter altitude in Chile’s ultra-dry high desert. Submillimeter and millimeter astronomy is forefront cutting edge science and interferometry, operating in the .25 to 1.7mm wavelengths, and offers a multitude of beneficial applications.
The ILO/A strives to pioneer and innovate several niches of human, science and technological endeavor. For the benefit of science, commerce and humanity, the ILO will serve as a(n):
a. Astrophysics facility: unique and pioneering for the next frontier of astronomy, with special emphasis on advancing Hawaii 21 st century astronomical leadership.
b. Power station: a solar device will be required to supply power to the ILO and its instruments, and may offer additional capacities for other energy-related functions.
c. Communications Center: transmission of astrophysical data; Space Age Publishing Company’s (SPC) Lunar Enterprise Daily flagship publication; commercial communications, broadcasting, advertising, and imaging. A series of lunar commercial communications workshops are being conducted in Silicon Valley through the support of the SPC California office.
d. Lunar Property Rights: automatically raise the question of “who owns the Moon?”
e. Site Characterizer: gather and report data of the surrounding area, including solar wind and radiation measurements, temperature, altitude, and seismic and meteoric activity.
f. Toe-hold for lunar base buildout: serve as a pre-cursor to future missions.
g. Virtual nexus dynamic website: develop a website that delivers real-time astrophysical data, lunar video, earthrise imagery, broadcast communications and other viable information to institutions, popular media, schools and the general public.
International Lunar Observatory Association / Space Age Publishing
Lunar Enterprise Corporation
65-1230 Mamalahoa Highway, D-20
480 California Ave #303
Kamuela, Hawaii 96743 USA
Palo Alto , CA 94306
Phone 808-885-3473 • Fax 808-885-3475
Phone: 650-324-3705 • Fax 650-324-3716