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Ten teams now vying for part of the $30 million purse offered up by Google

Google announced this week that it now has ten teams registered to compete for its $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. Google’s Lunar X PRIZE competition is a serious undertaking with requirements to win the cash prize stipulating that the teams build and launch a craft that can travel to the moon and land on its surface.

Once the craft reaches the lunar surface, the lander portion of the craft must be able to travel 500 meters over the surface of the moon and send back at least one gigabyte of images and video. All crafts in the competition are required to have still and HD video cameras to compete. The first team to complete these tasks will win a prize of $20 million.

The other $10 million of the prize money is broken up into two $5 million prizes that can be won. One of the $5 million purses is up for grabs for the second place team to complete the main objectives of the competition. The remaining $5 million is for the rover able to complete other missions on the moon’s surface including finding water or ice, traveling the longest distance, and having the greatest endurance.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE foundation announced the entry of ten teams at Google headquarters on February 21. Diamandis said in a statement, “I’m very pleased to welcome our first 10 fully registered teams to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Only 6 months after the announcement of this competition, the response has been incredible – we’ve received over 560 expressions of interest from more than 53 nations.”

"We are excited that ten teams from around the world have taken up the challenge of the Google Lunar X PRIZE," said Megan Smith, Google's Vice President for New Business Development. "We look forward to the exciting achievements and scientific advancements that will result from the efforts of these teams as they participate in the next great space race."

 The ten teams currently registered to compete for the Lunax X Prize include the Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA), Astrobotic, Chandah, FREDNET, LunaTrex, Micro-Space, Odyssey Moon, Quantum 3, Southern California Selene Group, and Team Italia.

An additional $2 million price is being offered in the competition to the team that wins the competition provided that the winning team launches from Florida and wins the competition while complying with all the competition rules.

DailyTech first reported on the Google $30 million Lunar X PRIZE in 2007.



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Amazing
By pauldovi on 2/22/2008 11:59:52 AM , Rating: 5
I love it that we have individuals and companies willing to privately invest in this technology. This is where the true innovation is going to come from, not from NASA.




RE: Amazing
By BruceLeet on 2/22/08, Rating: -1
RE: Amazing
By semo on 2/22/2008 12:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
how do we know exactly how far away the moon is from earth?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Laser_Ranging_E...


RE: Amazing
By glenn8 on 2/22/2008 1:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it obvious? It's a lie. Can you prove whether they are right or wrong about the distance? :)

On a different note, the only thing I don't like these types of competition is that you have a bunch of people trying to reinvent the wheel. It would be nice if someone came up with a method that was totally original and innovative.


RE: Amazing
By semo on 2/22/2008 2:01:04 PM , Rating: 4
i just can not comprehend how america could possibly fake a moon landing (with or without humans) with the ussr watching their every step during the cold war.

quote:
It would be nice if someone came up with a method that was totally original and innovative.
i think virgin galactic have done just that if we compare their's and nasa's atmospheric reentry methods.


RE: Amazing
By smitty3268 on 2/23/2008 12:25:10 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it obvious? The USSR was in on it, too. The MIB from both countries got together, and faked the thing with the help of the Martians living on the moon that they had made contact with.


RE: Amazing
By Misty Dingos on 2/22/2008 3:00:39 PM , Rating: 1
No he is right NASA didn't land on the moon. Men did. Men with back bone, brains and more balls than the likes of your will ever know.

Now get off my lily pad you are stinking the place up poser.


RE: Amazing
By BruceLeet on 2/22/2008 3:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
We all know it was JAXA mate, NASA just sued and bought the rights, just like every other profitable american company does.

On top of that, ESA made everything possible, without them, man, damn MP3 Players


RE: Amazing
By marsbound2024 on 2/22/2008 6:09:43 PM , Rating: 1
You're an idiot.


RE: Amazing
By BruceLeet on 2/23/2008 2:36:17 AM , Rating: 2
LOL! I can't believe anyone has the 'intelligence' to take my posts on this topic seriously.

Its a given, you were the target lmao!


RE: Amazing
By Samus on 2/23/2008 8:15:29 AM , Rating: 2
Right, of course, and Apollo 13 was just a staged-event to drama up some viewers on the tube.

You guys are being morons. We landed on the moon, there's an American flag and a plaque you can see with a high power telescope during the moon solstice that is dated 1969.

Stop being stupid. If you don't believe it until you see it, go buy a Bosch & Lomb.


RE: Amazing
By maven81 on 2/23/2008 6:49:46 PM , Rating: 1
You're right about the leftovers... but as for seeing them with a telescope? Not a chance! Hubble couldn't see it if you pointed it at the moon. The best hope we have is looking for things like rovers, and that can only be done from lunar orbit.
Plus solstice doesn't mean what you think it does... the fact that it has the word "sol" (sun) in it should tell you something...


RE: Amazing
By WTurner on 2/23/08, Rating: 0
RE: Amazing
By CupCak3 on 2/22/2008 12:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'm sure the companies love it too... they will make alot of money off the tech in the coming years. If Google did not have a long term plan which showed real means for a return on their investment, they would not be doing this. Last time I checked, Google was a publicly traded company whose prime objective was to make money for their stockholders.

Unfortunately, NASA only has so much money to go around :(


RE: Amazing
By FITCamaro on 2/22/2008 2:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
They'd have more if the American public weren't more concerned with milking the system for all its worth than the space program. I mean what has the space program given us thats useful today? Just little things like plastic, synthetic fabrics, modern food storage techniques, solar power, etc. Nothing worth mentioning.

To me government funding priorities should be something like:
1) defense
2) education
3) space program
4) transportation
5) border security and enforcement
6) disease control
7) social programs

Not to say the numbers represent how big the budget of each should be. But just which gets money first.


RE: Amazing
By judasmachine on 2/22/2008 12:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, NASA is a good start, but until we have dozens of groups and agencies willing and able to compete, there simply won't be much done in the way of landmark space exploration. NASA does make a good library of knowledge. I don't discount them but on their budget, and without serious competition (although the ESA, and China are coming along fine.) they can't do much.


RE: Amazing
By paulpod on 2/22/2008 2:04:40 PM , Rating: 1
Am I missing something here?

Didn't Nasa land HUMAN BEINGS on the moon in 1969! And didn't Nasa recently land an unmanned craft on a moon OF SATURN!?

Didn't Nasa just launch a craft to Pluto that flew past the moon within HOURS of launch?

Aren't private companies still limited to a human flight profile that Nasa surpassed on its SECOND manned launch in ~1961?

Isn't it true that the only successful unmanned launch vehicles run by private companies all use hardware where the real creativity came from US or Russian government/military programs?


RE: Amazing
By Ringold on 2/22/2008 2:26:20 PM , Rating: 2
Give me a blank check and I could do all that too.

The point is private enterprise will try to do this profitably, or at least not with blank checks and tens of billion dollars.


RE: Amazing
By maven81 on 2/22/2008 3:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
Aren't you forgetting something? Aside from JPL Nasa doesn't really manufacture things inhouse. It subcontracts projects to civilian aerospace companies. And these companies don't always do such a great job... Remember the hubble space telescope? I believe a good chunk went to lockheed martin. Massive cost overruns... I forget who built the mirror, but it's another company that really screwed up. Remember all the other subcontractors? Boeing, Northrop Grumman, a ton of tiny companies responsible for this thing or that... It's not "the government" that makes all that stuff, it IS private industry! I think what you're really trying to say is that it's possible for smaller, younger, more visionary companies to do a better job then these old dinosaurs. And there I totally agree with you.


RE: Amazing
By Ringold on 2/23/2008 1:38:04 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't forget that at all, but we're on the same page. Government-sponsored programs, like you point out, have almost blank-checks. Especially when its a cost-plus contract, the incentive to keep costs under control doesn't exist, they'll get their margin regardless. Even if its not, they probably know they can bilk the government for whatever it costs; the government will figure its already invested so much and, darn it, they want their new toy. All the same good old boys gather around every time NASA wants something done, and all the same good old boys get the lions share of the contracts. LockMart & Boeing arent risking their own money, they're risking our money, so why rush, why innovate, why control costs? I don't really even consider the defense complex to be anything like a competitive market; more like a set of necessary appendages for the government to keep alive lest we ever need them all.

Not to say they don't do good work, I'd love to work for NASA if they have need of economists, heh, it's just expensive.

These guys like Scaled Composites and Bigelow have incentive to keep costs low, reliability high, etc; it's their money on the line. If they try something, and it fails, that's their own money thats smoldering in a heap of wreckage on the launch pad. Because there are more then just a couple, they have the need and free will to innovate circles around NASA; they have to differentiate their products. You're right on the youthful part too; they dont have a nasty entrenched culture to battle against.

We've really never had free enterprise in space, except for satellites, where companies put things in space with an eye to profit. Bigelow and Scaled Composites make life exciting; Orion sure isn't..


RE: Amazing
By maven81 on 2/23/2008 6:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yes indeed Ringold, I look forward to seeing what the little guys come up with. It's just a damn shame that this business requires enormous amounts of money as a start up cost. Or I'm sure a lot more people would be getting involved.


Difficult
By Trisagion on 2/22/2008 12:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I don't think anybody is going to win the prize. At the last XPrize competition, teams had difficulty in getting their crafts to successfully land and take off. IMO sending a craft to the moon, landing successfully, using a rover to capture video and beam it all back to earth sounds impossible for a small team to do.

Wouldn't such a project cost more than the $30 million prize money, anyway?

Can a team succeed where countries like India, China and S Korea, arguably with bigger budgets have not yet reached?

Hmmm.




RE: Difficult
By billybeer on 2/22/2008 12:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. IF (and it's a big if) a team actually pulls this off it's going to cost them well over $30 million dollars.

I dunno, I really cringe at a company involved in a completely different industry sponsoring something like this...I foresee several catastrophic failures (hopefully nobody dies - see Scaled Composites) and many people re-inventing the wheel only to find out they just made an oval.


RE: Difficult
By sailorbob74133 on 2/22/2008 12:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
Just take a look at space x, which will arguably have the cheapest heavy lift vehicle on the planet, the Falcon 9 Heavy:

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9_heavy.php

Look at the launch costs:

Falcon 9 Heavy missions to GTO are:
Satellite Vehicle Mass (kg) Price
5000-5500 $55M
5500-6500 $65M
6500-11500 $90M

Who's going to screw with this for a $30 million prize? If the prize was $100 million it might be realistic...


RE: Difficult
By Ringold on 2/22/2008 1:22:44 PM , Rating: 3
You're all looking only at the tree directly in front of you and entirely missing the massive pine forest all around you.

Prizes like these spur huge investments not just for the prize money but the publicity and huge potential in future business agreements that then follow. Just look at Scaled Composites and how well they've done. It could open up contracts with NASA or private enterprise in ways we havent speculated yet, perhaps in ways no one has figured out yet. The prize is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for not believing a small team of private individuals can put something on the moon, well, all I can say is.. your lack of faith is disturbing! NASA probably thought that private citizens couldn't possibly put anyone in to space, even in a simple suborbital jump, safely and reliably. Soon Virgin Galactic will be doing it with regularity.

It's not hard to beat a monolithic entrenched government agency consumed in its own red tape and lack of vision. It just takes a little free market incentive to get the ball rolling.


RE: Difficult
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/22/2008 1:28:54 PM , Rating: 2
Probably not. The costs will exceed 30 million for most teams. Successful completion though will not only earn them the 20+ million dollars but put them in the front running for partnerships/contracts for aerospace projects which will potentially be worth hundreds of millions or more in the long run.

As for them making it on the first try, well I suspect it won't be until the second or third attempt that anyone wins.


RE: Difficult
By Zensen on 2/22/2008 9:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
So hopefully we'll get a winner that you can post on here by 2012. Thanks :P

Hitch a ride on a one of those rockets launched from nasa or china or whoever and blast your little piece of history onto the moon. That'll solve any launch problems.


"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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