LunaCorp plans to launch its first spacecraft, the Icebreaker Moon Rover, in late 2003 to explore the Moon's polar regions. It will drive around the moon at a high latitude, enabling it to remain in the acceptable temperatures of a lunar morning.

The initial Icebreaker Moon Rover will explore near the Moon's poles prospecting for water. Orbiting satellites have found indications of the existence of ice deposits in permanently shadowed polar craters on the Moon.

LunaCorp says the mission will be funded by corporate sponsors, exclusive television contracts, fees from an internet portal, ticket sales at science centres offering motion-platform, telepresence chambers linked to the spacecraft, and contracts from government space agencies.

US consumer electronics retailer RadioShack has become the first corporate sponsor for the mission. LunaCorp says it will need three or four other high profile sponsors.

A prototype rover will be tested in July 2001 in the Canadian Arctic where it will circle a local area in 24h as the sun moves around the horizon.

NASA is sponsoring the test with a $1 million grant, while LunaCorp's corporate sponsors will be required to pay for the communications which connect the robot to the internet.

Source: Flight International