WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Sometimes the prize isn’t the prize, it’s just a bonus, and in this case most of the teams who were involved in the original Google Lunar XPrize still have their sights set on a Moon landing in 2019.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenged private firms to land a spacecraft on the Moon, is to continue without Google after the XPrize Foundation announced a bid to re-launch a new Lunar XPRIZE, as some of the teams such as PTScientists, and their sponsors, namely Audi, Nokia and Vodafone, continue forge ahead with their plans to land on the Moon next year and build out a Moon based 4G network, with or without a title sponsor, but hopefully with.
Google declined to sponsor the competition beyond its March 31 2018 deadline, after more than a decade at the helm as reports emerged that no team had a chance of reaching the Moon in time, so as a result the future of the prize looked uncertain.
From September 2007 to the March 2018 deadline, Google funded the multimillion-dollar prize organized by the XPrize Foundation. Some $20 million was earmarked for the winners and $5 million for the runner-up team, with another $5 million in bonus prizes.
X Prize confirmed that no teams would meet the deadline earlier this year. At the time, a Google spokesperson said: “Google does not have plans at this time to extend the deadline again. However, we are so thrilled with the progress made by these teams over the last 10 years.”
The competition asked companies to land a spacecraft on the moon, move it 550 yards and then transmit photos and video back to Earth. A number of teams came close, securing millions of dollars in funding and even procuring launch contracts. It is because of the achievements of these teams that the company wants to relaunch the competition, a statement explains.
“While that competition is now over, there are at least five teams with launch contracts that hope to land on the Lunar surface in the next two years,” said Peter Diamandis, XPrize founder and executive chairman.
Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of prizes at XPrize, added: “I am confident that one of these companies will land on the Moon in the near future and am excited for the next chapter of this new space race.”
Although the prize no longer boosts its large cash incentive, various team leaders supported the decision to continue. Bob Richards, founder and CEO of the competition’s Moon Express team, said in the statement: “While we plan to win this Moon race and are committed to carrying the Lunar XPrize logo, the real opportunity is in opening the lunar frontier and the multibillion dollar industry that follows.”
“With the renewed interest in beyond Earth-orbit exploration by multiple large government space agencies, a new Lunar XPrize will be a perfectly timed platform with the chances of multiple successful launches being much higher than before.”
If you have a spare $30 million dollars and want to make your mark on the moon, XPrize has also announced it is seeking a new title sponsor.