Google is offering a prize of $30 Million. To win, all you need to do is land a robot on the moon, explore the surface and move at least 500 meters, then send back back two packages of high definition video and photos, Mooncasts perhaps. Oh, and apparently to get the money, you have to do it first … duh! … but then if you are building your own private space program, $30 million would be rather handy to have up front.
This is no joke, its a real challenge with real challengers getting set to try. A couple of weeks ago, the organizers held the 4th annual Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit on the Isle of Man, so lots of exciting stuff has been filtering out of that event.
The big news is that they have now officially accepted their 24th Team into the competition. Feeling left out? Don’t panic, all is not lost, because if you want to put a team together you can do so, the closing date for entries is the end of this year. When they first launched all this in 2007 they hoped to get about 12 teams, but were told at best they might get 5 or 6. Now we have 24 players in the game, and some of them are seriously heavy players, multinational corporations, so there is a very good chance it will really happen.
Now we stand on the brink of Moon 2.0, and it looks very different than the previous Soviet / US race, this time its commercial. The private companies, non-profits, and university consortia competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will not be in a position to throw mega-cash at the problem, they need to come up with a mixture that is both smart and cheap. Seven of the teams gave presentation during the Isle-of-Man summit. Its not all just talk, many of the teams are already building hardware, it fact some of them have already gone through multiple generations of hardware. Three weeks ago, team ARCA from Romania conducted a test launch that marked the first time a Google Lunar X PRIZE-related payload had been carried into space.
Here is the latest Video update from the summit …
For more information you can check out the official web site here and get details of the teams taking place and what they are up to.
If they pull this off, what comes next? … perhaps a Mars X-Prize.