If you fancy yourself as a space entrepreneur and winning a top cash prize of $20 million is a very appealing thought, then luck is on your side, as it was announced yesterday that the deadline for the Google Lunar XPRIZE has been extended until the end of 2016.
Created in 2007, the Google Lunar XPRIZE is an incentive dedicated to creating affordable access to the Moon and beyond while simultaneously reinvigorating the public’s interest in our closest neighbour. A total of $30 million is up for grabs in this high-stake competition – $20 million dollars for the grand prize and $5 million dollars for the runner-up. Prizes will be awarded to teams who are able to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images. Several smaller bonus prizes are available for further technical and scientific achievements, such as visiting an Apollo landing sit or surviving the lunar night.
To be in the running for either of the big prizes, teams must prove that 90% of their mission costs were funded by private sources. Teams have until the end of 2016 for their launch arrangements to be verified by XPRIZE in order to proceed in the competition and they must complete their mission by the end of 2017.
"We continue to see significant progress from our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, most recently demonstrated in the pursuit of the Milestone Prizes, in which teams exhibited substantial technological achievements that will ultimately support their missions," said Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president, XPRIZE. "We know the mission we are asking teams to accomplish is extremely difficult and unprecedented, not only from a technological standpoint, but also in terms of the financial considerations. It is for this reason that we have decided to extend the competition timeline. We firmly believe that a whole new economy around low-cost access to the Moon will be the result of the Google Lunar XPRIZE."
In October, Google Lunar XPRIZE announced that SpaceIL, the Israeli Google Lunar XPRIZE team became the first team to produce a verified launch contract for a 2017 mission, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 Launcher via Spaceflight Industries. SpaceIL is not the only contender, as earlier this month Moon Express, Inc. received its official verification of their launch contract from XPRIZE as part of the competition. Moon Express will use a Rocket Lab Electron rocket combined with the company’s “MX-1E” micro-lander as part of a 2017 mission.
“We are extremely proud to officially confirm receipt and verification of Moon Express’s launch contract,” said Weis. "Having multiple teams attempting actual missions to the moon is a hallmark of a genuine competition. Verified launch contracts are the 'bona fides' that teams need to demonstrate that they are in it to win it. Moon Express' accomplishment has brought XPRIZE closer to the moon."