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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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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?


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:

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 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.

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