Moon Express has become the first private company in the world to be authorized by the US government to travel to the Moon and mine it for valuable resources.

Just recently, the company announced that it has raised $20 million in private equity to support its first journey to the Moon that will take place in the later part of this year. In addition to its initial funding, this brings a total amount of $45 million in private investment from investors, including Autodesk, Collaborative Fund, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.

Confirming this undertaking, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, Naveen Jain, said:

“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 of 2017.”

The goal of the expedition is to mine the Moon for valuable resources, like gold, rare earth metals, platinum group metals, water, and helium-3. Helium-3 is a clean source of energy that could be used to power nuclear fusion reactors and entire industries. It is for this reason that China is also planning to engage in Moon mining.

As for water, its hydrogen and oxygen can be separated to create fuel. This means that the Moon will eventually serve as a fueling station for rockets and other spacecraft going into deep-space missions.

Aside from mining, the expedition also aims to aid researchers in developing human colonies in space for future generations.