WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
For the sixteen private teams racing to land a lunar rover on the moon in 2017 achieving the goal is more important than the politics.
Two teams competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE have decided to join forces and have signed a ride share partnership agreement to get their respective lunar rovers onto the same rocket to the moon in 2017.
Team Indus of India and Team Hakuto of Japan will share a ride to the moon on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, developed and launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
“We’re proud to verify Hakuto’s launch agreement and are pleased to see two Google Lunar XPRIZE teams collaborating on this mission to the moon,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, a senior director at Google Lunar XPRIZE, “the purpose of this prize was, in part, to foster collaboration in the private sector and this is a great demonstration of teams coming together in the next giant leap in space exploration.”
The Lunar XPRIZE is a global competition that pits private organisations against each other to become the first privateers to land on the moon, get their craft to travel 500 meters (1,640 feet), and transmit high definition video and images back to Earth before December 31, 2017. Google is offering a $20 million to the first team to pull it off, $5 million to the second team, and $5 million more to be awarded for a unique scientific achievement, such as visiting an Apollo site.
“The Google Lunar XPRIZE has always pushed us beyond our limits” said Takeshi Hakamada, the team leader of Hakuto, “we will continue to challenge ourselves next year and choose an optimal path to reach the moon.”
They’re facing stiff competition. Israeli Team SpaceIL has already booked its flight on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The American team Moon Express will fly on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket, and the international Team Synergy Moon has secured a ride on the Neptune 8 rocket from Interorbital Systems. It remains to be seen who will achieve liftoff first.
Getting a ticket to the moon has proven just as difficult as building a lunar rover for many teams – particularly because the cost of a ticket to ride is at least $10 million. German Team Part Time Scientists , who teamed up with Audi recently, have also announced they’ve also secured a rocket, but it has not yet been verified by the XPRIZE committee. Team Indus and Hakuto made that part of the challenge a little easier by booking a rocket flight together.
May the best rover win.