Almost two years ago the Washington Post did a story about an entrepreneur named Naveen Jain, the co-founder and chairman of Moon Express who announced some pretty audacious plans to send a small, robotic spacecraft to the moon in 2016. The aim: to win a $20 million prize from Google and, more importantly, to start mining the moon for gold, platinum, rare earth elements and helium 3, a non-radioactive energy source that could potentially be used to produce clean energy on earth.

It didn’t happen in 2016. But now, according to this report on, the company is on target to launch its spacecraft before the end of this year. In just the past few months the company has raised $20 million in private equity. “Moon Express now has all the capital it needs to land its small robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon in November or December,” Jain told CNBC.

The company’s first mission will to be send up a spacecraft no bigger than a washing machine to collect moon samples.  If it successfully completes this mission it’ll pull in another $20 million from a Google contest aimed at awarding the first company to privately fund a rover to the moon. Moon Express is the only private company to have been granted permission by the U.S. government to leave Earth and land on the moon.

It could be the beginning of something out of this world.

“This year is a watershed year for Moon Express and America’s commercial space industry,” Bob Richards, Moon Express’ co-founder, president and chief executive told MSN. Private companies can expect to see stiff competition from U.S., Chinese and Russian government-funded programs too.

Want to go to the moon on holiday? Ever the entrepreneur, Jain and his team are promising to deliver that too by 2026, as well as the development of future space colonies.