Google Lunar X-prize competition


Multiuniversal creator
13 February 2006
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Did you know about that?

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded and must be registered to compete by December 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2012. After that date, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will awarded in bonus prizes. The final deadline for winning the prize is December 31, 2014.

Seems that another interesting race is on the way. There are many unusual concepts submitted. Take a look:


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The deadline has been extended to the end of 2015.

From the competition website:

Summary of Rules and Requirements:

The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE will be awarded to the first privately funded teams to build robots that successfully land on the lunar surface, explore the Moon by moving at least 500 meters (~1/3 of a mile), and return high definition video and imagery.

The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013.

Additionally, a second place prize of $5 million will be available for the second team to complete the competition objectives. $4 million in bonus prizes are available for achieving other specific mission objectives, including operation at night; traveling more than 5km over the lunar surface; detection of water; and precision landing near an Apollo site or other lunar sites of interest (such as landing/crash sites of man-made space hardware).

Lastly, a $1 million award will go to the team that demonstrates the greatest attempts to promote diversity in the field of space exploration.

To ensure that teams develop technologies and capabilities that will allow for financially sustainable lunar exploration, the Google Lunar X PRIZE requires that teams receive a large majority of the funds necessary to mount their mission from private sources, such as customers, investors, sponsors, and donors. However, teams are welcomed—indeed, encouraged—to seek government customers willing to purchase services and data at commercially reasonable rates. The new era of lunar exploration, Moon 2.0, thrives on being international and participatory, and derives much of its strength from the cooperation and collaboration between civil space agencies and private firms; Google Lunar X PRIZE teams that can identify and sign government customers are demonstrating their ability to be vital components of this new era.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE expires whenever all prizes are claimed, or at the end of 2015.

The complete and binding set of rules for the competition is contained in a document called the "Master Team Agreement" -- a binding contract signed between each individual team and the X PRIZE Foundation. Currently the Master Team Agreement is being finalized in coordination between the X PRIZE Foundation, Google, and the competing teams.

As of midnight on December 31st, 2010, the team registration for the Google Lunar X PRIZE is closed. No additional applicants will be accepted to join the competition.
is there any low cost rocket, who can bring Lunar X robots to moon under US$ 30 million?
otherwise the teams face bankruptcy...
Michel Van said:
is there any low cost rocket, who can bring Lunar X robots to moon under US$ 30 million?
otherwise the teams face bankruptcy...

As I understand it, many of them are trying to hitch a ride for free, or at least get offered secondary payload rates. But they're not having success. It's rather common in the entrepreneurial space field to hint that you have something up your sleeve in order to keep your critics quiet. So some of these groups have hinted that they're not worried about the launch issue, implying that they have that settled. But when pressed, they provide no details. It is clear that they don't have that lined up.

Launch is not cheap. And even the small rockets are in the ~$20 million range. They also lack the power to get a decent payload to the Moon. Everybody has been missing deadlines on this again and again. There was an article last year in The Space Review about that. They're just not able to pull it off.
getting free place on GEO launcher could be easy part of mission.
it fly as ballast like on Ariane 5, and dropped in GTO, just like SMART-1
but from here the payload has to get to the moon and land there.
means a rocket stage and landing stage.
or have some contender proposed airbag landing on moon ?

I thought we already had a separate thread for Moon Express (also known as MoonEx) but apparently not.
The competition has been getting more attention this past couple of weeks - probably due to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Attached is an article from CNN last week:
With these things it is always fun to go back to the very first post and look at the date: 2008.

Here is a recent article on the subject:

Fly me to the Moon
by Dwayne Day
Monday, June 13, 2016

It has been many years since I have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but there is a scene in the book that I still remember: Huck and Jim fall in with a couple of con men, the duke and the dauphin, and the duke stumbles upon a religious revival meeting. He tells the parishioners that he is a pirate returned from sea and has been so moved by the preacher’s sermon that he is going to go back and try to save his fellow pirates and turn them to the Lord. The assembled are so moved that they take up a collection and give him money to use for his travels. The women folk ask to kiss his cheek, and some of them he decides to kiss multiple times.
Shingles started by saying that “you have to disrupt before you are disrupted,” and then added that you have to “Uber before you are Kodaked.”

For some reason that scene popped into my head Tuesday evening as I sat in a meeting room in the Library of Congress as Marcus Shingles, the Chief Executive Officer of the XPRIZE Foundation took the stage. The occasion was a presentation of short films about Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) participants, part of a project called Moon Shot and started by J.J. Abrams, who, we were told, loves space (just not Star Trek). Moon Shot is billed as “a space story about life on Earth,” which sounds nice enough, until you start to understand what it actually means.
There are a few other stories about that:

But what we have seen from GLXP over the years is a lot of press releases and no actual flights. The original deadline was 2012. It has now slipped to 2017. And don't be surprised if next year it slips by another couple of years.


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Grey Havoc said:

PTScientists were formerly in the competition:
However the team could still lose the space race to five other companies who are competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $20 million competition to become the first first team to put a probe on the Moon, have it travel at least a third of a mile (500 metres) and send live video and photos back to Earth.

To qualify for the prize the probe has to be launched by the end of this year and teams from Israel, Japan and the US are in the running.

PTScientists were ruled out of the prize because they could not secure a launch date until 2018, but they are still hoping to be the first. And they are the only group which is planning to built a working communications infrastructure on the Moon, which can make ‘make humanity a fully-fledged space-faring species.’

“With this this step we are laying the groundwork for all future moon missions to come,” said Hannes Ametsreiter, Chief Executive of Vodafone Germany.

“When Elon Musk sends his first private passengers to Orbit the Moon in 2018 or ESA opens the doors of its moon village our Vodafone network will already be there.”
The original X prize took quite a while before it was won, IIRC.

Just because the original was done with largely late 50s/early 60s tech (because you have to freeze the design at some stage), I think a lot of people underestimate the difficulties in getting someone to the moon and back. It is still essentially a nation state-level project, and a permanent base would be even more so. In fact I can't think of too many realistic SF scenarios in which a permanent offworld base is NOT multinational.
Not sure why I didn't get around to posting on the unfortunate end of the competition last year:
Grey Havoc said:
Not sure why I didn't get around to posting on the unfortunate end of the competition last year:

They kept changing the dates on GLXP. The original deadline was 2012, then 2014, then 2017.

There are some interesting stories behind the failures and it would be neat if somebody went and talked to members of some of the teams. One team that dropped out early actually had a major commitment of funding ($100 million) but ended up having to refuse it. I heard somebody from Astrobotic (which removed themselves from the competition, but still exists) make some very candid comments about why they thought GLXP failed. He felt that if the competition had been structured differently--for instance, if GLXP had provided the rocket for free as the "prize," and been a bit more ruthless about eliminating some vaporware competitors--the project might have been more successful.
Now if everything goes right

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch the Beresheet lander on 19 February 2019
but it will take 2,5 months to reach Moon, make several Orbits, so between a week or month before landing.

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