Google Lunar X Prize: Onwards to the Moon
The list is in: An official roster of 29 registered teams selected to compete for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, an unprecedented competition to send a robot to the Moon that travels at least 500 meters and transmit video, images, and data back to the Earth.
The global competition, the largest in history, was announced in September 2007, with a winner projected by 2015.
The winning team will need to complete its mission before December 31, 2015 to win the $20 million first prize ($15 million if the winning team is a government agency). Other prizes will be awarded for feats such as surviving the freezing lunar night or traveling five kilometers, for finding water, touching down near an Apollo landing site, and for “stimulating diversity” in space exploration.
Plans to transport the robotic vehicles to the Moon include US government-backed space agencies, private US agencies such as SpaceX, a company set up by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, and agencies in Russia, China, and elsewhere.
The announcement of the official roster of registered teams comes at a time when this new era of lunar exploration has received great recognition and credibility. Recently, NASA, the U.S. civil space agency, announced that it will purchase data related to innovative lunar missions from six Google Lunar X PRIZE teams, with contracts worth as much as $10 million each. These purchases demonstrate how public and private space exploration alike will play an important role in making missions to the Moon financially sustainable.
via Google XPrize