Race to the Moon heats up as Google Lunar XPrize comes down to 5 finalists
Google Lunar XPrize is a competition held by the web giant that will offer $20 million to the first private company who will fly to the moon by the end of this year. This includes going to the moon, travelling 500 meters and also sending back image and video streams. The one in the second place will get $5 million. Now, it is down to five teams from the original sixteen competitors. Bonus prizes will also be awarded for separate achievements, like getting to the original Apollo landing site where humans first set foot on our closest natural satellite.
These teams are SpaceIL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon, Team Indus and Hakuto. All the teams have different strategies and paths on how to get to the moon. All these teams must launch their rovers by December 31st to qualify for the grand prize in the first place. The last day of the year is the last day to launch, not land on the moon.
For those 11 who tried but could not make it, Google is splitting $1 million among the 16 who made it this far. It is not much compared to what the winners are getting, but it is still a good compensation as all the teams tried pretty hard. That mean, each of the 11 teams still got over sixty thousand dollars and that s not at al bad.
Getting there will be tricky
All the remaining teams got verified contracts to go to space. SpaceIL was the first to get a contract with SpaceX to launch its lunar lander by the second half of 2017. Moon Express is booked to take a rocket called Electron from a startup called Rocket Lab and they got government permission to fly. Synergy Moon will fly via Interorbital’s Neptune 8, another rocket that has yet to actually reach space. Finally, team Indus and team Hakuto will be sharing a ride on a rocket with a proven track record provided by the Indian space agency.
Source: Tech Crunch