Trip to the moon

Google and the X Prize Foundation are offering millions of dollars in prize money to a private company that can send a rover to the Moon.


Internet search company Google and the X Prize Foundation have teamed up to offer millions of dollars in prize money to a private company that can successfully send a rover to the Moon.


The $30m prize purse comprises a $20m grand prize, a $5m second prize, and $5m in bonus prizes.


To win the grand prize, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for a minimum of 500 metres, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to the Earth.


To win the second prize, a team must land their spacecraft on the Moon, rove and transmit data back to Earth.


Bonus prizes will be won by those who can successfully complete additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 metres), imaging man made artifacts (like Apollo hardware), discovering water or ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days).


‘The X-Prize could lead to important developments in robotic space exploration, a whole host of new space-age materials, precision landing control technology, and who knows what else,’ said Alan Eustace, senior VP of engineering at Google.


The Google Lunar X Prize is the third prize the X Prize Foundation has announced since its inception in 1995. In 2004, the X Prize Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10m Ansari X Prize.


The Foundation has since expanded its mission beyond space exploration. In 2006, the X Prize Foundation launched the Archon X Prize for Genomics, a $10m competition in which the winning team will demonstrate the ability to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days.