The Google Lunar X PRIZE

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The Google Lunar X PRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit.

Team registration for the competition closed on December 31, 2010. There are currently 23 teams (including lone entry fro India Team Indus ) located around the world who are fundraising, mission planning, and building robots in a new race to the Moon. The teams have until the end of 2015 to get to the Moon, meet the prize objectives, and win the prize purses.

Why the Moon?
Scientists and explorers have shown that the Moon is an ideal platform from which to study the Earth and the wider solar system and universe. There is much we can learn about the formation of our planet and the solar system by studying the Moon. Further, the Moon has untapped resources that could allow us to improve the quality of life here on Earth as well as expand our permanent presence beyond Earth orbit.

Why an X PRIZE?
History has shown that incentive prizes stimulate innovation and create revolutions. At $30 million, the Google Lunar X PRIZE is the largest incentive prize of all time, reflecting the vast technological and funding challenge of achieving a lunar landing.

Why Google?
Google is sponsoring the Google Lunar X PRIZE to help stimulate a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math related research and education in a generation of potential innovators. They also expect this prize to stimulate the space economy in ways that provide lower cost and more plentiful access to space than is currently possible. Google has contracted with the X PRIZE Foundation to administer all aspects of the Google Lunar X PRIZE. A panel comprising highly qualified and impartial judges from around the world will judge the prize. They will be responsible for evaluating teams’ compliance with the requirements of the X PRIZE.

Why Now?
Commercial space companies are now opening up the sub-orbital and orbital frontier - doing things that once were the realm of governments and their contractors and achieving it in ways that are often more cost effective and efficient. This “NewSpace” economy was stimulated in a significant way by the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, awarded in 2004, for the achievement of regular sub orbital flight. Following on from the Ansari X PRIZE, the $1 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge spurred innovation in technologies to soft land on the Moon. Building upon that to innovate inexpensive regular access to the Moon is the next critical stepping stone for further exploration of our solar system and universe.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE aims to create a new era of lunar exploration that will be more sustainable and more accessible to all than humanity’s first moon race. Google Lunar X PRIZE and the stories of the global community of innovators and entrepreneurs competing for the it, will motivate the high tech workforce of tomorrow and show people of all ages how they can personally contribute to a worthy and exciting endeavor like space exploration.


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