There are many competition in space, but the most interesting for this year will be the Google Lunar X-Prize.
This competition is sponsored by Google and it has three main objectives:
- Place a spacecraft on the Moon
- Travel 500 meters from the landing point
- Transmit HD video and images
And the award is:
- First place: $20 Million
- Second place: $5 Million
- Different bonus prizes for different objectives. $5 million have already been granted to some teams due to reaching technological milestones.
But the great thing of this prize is that the team that makes it happen must be privately funded. Different people and companies are funding these teams, not the government.
As for the the time limit; they must launch their spacecraft before January 1 of 2018, so this year we will see a lot of activity on the moon. However, where was this competition originated?
An X-prize is a competition to crush the constrains of actual limits to problems to change the world and bring hope.
For that, it must met some criteria, in few words, it must define a problem that is achievable with a small team within a reasonable time with simple rules and that will cause a lot of side-bussiness and innovations.
The most close astronomical body to Earth, but yet, few men have visited it. This prize wants to help in the development of low-cost robotic space exploration to change the high cost paradigm of the space sector.
We have five teams that will be able to launch this year, the finalists.
SpaceIL – Israel – Launch for second half of 2017
SpaceIL has grown up from a non-profit organization to a national movement with thirty full-time staff and a lot more volunteers and a good network of experts. They are looking to create an “Apollo Effect” in Israel.
Their launcher will be the Falcon 9 rocket, a commercially available rocket of SpaceX.
MOON EXPRESS – USA – Launch for 2017
MOON EXPRESS is a new company that want to be a pathfinder for private sector of commercial missions to the moon and space travel.
Their launcher will be the Electron rocket, a cost-effective way to launch lightweight payloads but yet prove its capability.
Team Synergy Moon – International – Launch for second half of 2017
Synergy Moon is a join force of InterPlanetary Ventures, the Human Synergy Project and Interorbital systems. It is an international team that promotes international cooperation in space exploration and development.
Their launcher will be the NEPTUNE rocket, a modular rocket family system but yet prove its capability.
TeamIndus – India – Launch for December 28 of 2017
TeamIndus is based on audacious goal, the young engineers, entrepreneurial spirit and partners who commit their resources with the vision to deliver a the best technology outcome from India.
Their launcher will be the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, a commercially available rocket of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
HAKUTO – Japan – Launch for December 28 of 2017
HAKUTO is a team operated by ispace company that is developing space mining business like many other new space startups. They developed the smallest rover in the world with a total weight of 4 kg.
They have a ride share agreement with TeamIndus, so the two teams will be on the same launch to the moon.
I hope that at least one team can reach the moon, I think that it has the potential to intensify the space race of private companies and to bring closer the space missions.
More information, images like the poster and videos on lunar.xprice.org.