Competition Intensifies to Send the First Privately Funded Spacecraft to the Moon
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Dec 20, 2013) - With just over two years to go until the deadline, the competition intensifies for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized competition ever offered. Eighteen privately funded teams now form the line-up in the race to soft-land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon before the December 31, 2015 deadline.
In the past twelve months, the field of competitors has narrowed due to a handful of teams withdrawing to focus on other business interests, in addition to several instances of collaboration between teams.
California-based Team Phoenicia has withdrawn as a competitor to focus on providing affordable launch opportunities through payload sharing. Team Phoenicia has developed a payload delivery rack from which multiple small spacecraft can be deployed into different orbits. Among Phoenicia's first customers is another Google Lunar XPRIZE team, Penn State Lunar Lion Team, which has paid a reservation fee to launch the Lunar Lion lander on a lunar-intercept trajectory.
Team FREDNET, Open Space Society is leaving the competition to focus on more general lunar and interplanetary missions while continuing to develop supporting infrastructure for space-related public and private entities through its network of professional and student volunteers.
Team ARCA, a veteran competitor from the Ansari XPRIZE, has withdrawn from the competition to concentrate on its launcher activities. Since winning a contract with the European Space Agency in December 2012, ARCA has carried out a series of drop-tests of the parachutes for Europe's ExoMars 2016 mission. The Romania-based team has just finished construction work on a test facility for its new Executor rocket engine, which it will use for its Haas rocket series and IAR-111 Excelsior supersonic airplane.
The Moscow-based Team Selenokhod has also withdrawn to focus on Earth-based applications of its image-processing and navigation systems. Selenokhod's technology is already being used in vehicles for stacking warehouses and the company is developing future applications in trucks, military vehicles and open-pit mining.
Team Jurban has withdrawn to focus on projects including the development of its gravity board product, a space-tolerant, open-source electronic prototyping board. The team will continue its participation in the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.
"We knew that 2013 would be the make-or-break year for many teams as they need to be close to securing their launch by now if they are going to make an attempt at the prize," said Alexandra Hall, senior director of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. "While we are sad to say goodbye to teams, we are delighted that the technology and expertise gained through participation in the Google Lunar XPRIZE is already being used to create businesses and jobs, both in the space sector and in other fields."
The eighteen active teams competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE are: SpaceIL, Astrobotic, Team Italia, Moon Express, STELLAR, Independence-X, Omega Envoy, Synergy Moon, Euroluna, Hakuto, Part-Time-Scientists, Barcelona Moon Team, Team Puli, SpaceMETA, Plan B, Penn State Lunar Lion Team, AngelicvM and Team Indus.
About the Google Lunar XPRIZE:
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon's surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth. For more information, go to www.googlelunarxprize.org.