XPrize breathes new life into failed moon landing competition

XPrize breathes new life into ...
The Lunar XPrize has been granted another life
The Lunar XPrize has been granted another life
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The Lunar XPrize has been granted another life
The Lunar XPrize has been granted another life

The Google Lunar Xprize, a decade-long competition to put a privately funded spacecraft on the moon, may have come to an anticlimactic end but organizers aren't conceding defeat just yet. They have today announced plans to re-launch the competition, though with no current sponsor to speak of teams could be competing for bragging rights only.

Launched in 2007, the Google Lunar XPrize tasked competing teams with getting a privately funded spacecraft to the Moon before having it travel 500 m (1,640 ft) and transmit HD video and images back to Earth. It offered up US$30 million in prizes, though these went unclaimed as organizers finally pulled the pin in January following several deadline extensions.

Google had funded the original Lunar XPrize but will be taking no part in the relaunched competition, which means that no cash is currently up for grabs. XPrize is now seeking a new title sponsor for the competition, who would get naming rights and be responsible for offering up prize money for the winners.

There's little detail in terms of a timeline for the new competition, but at least some the teams from the previous installment will be continuing their push for a lunar landing.

"Over the last decade the Google Lunar XPrize teams raised over US$300 million through corporate sponsorships, government contracts and venture capital," said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of prizes at XPrize. "These space entrepreneurs are developing long-term business models around lunar transportation, and we cannot give up on them now. I am confident that one of these companies will land on the Moon in the near future and am excited for the next chapter of this new space race."

Source: XPrize

1 comment
I have been following this from afar for a while and it does not seem the X prize(s) deliver on the magic promises. Ansari Space X Prize was claimed so long ago (2004) that by now spaceflights resulting from furthering of that approach should have long been routine - if it worked. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is a decade overdue for even one flight - a suborbital hop at that, far from getting to LEO by an order of magnitude of required engine power. Instead, a completely different approach, that by SpaceX and its block 5 is closing on the original Ansari Space X requirements, of fast re-launch of the same system, from a very different direction. The real solution completely bypassed X Prize. The challenges did not involve meeting some artificial set of requirements to claim a prize - "only" that the company did not fold after a series of failures. With both Space X and BO likely to start flying reliably re-flyable boosters and both aiming at developing commercial access to the Moon I wonder how much space there is for a third company based in small expendables. I wonder how much sense does Moon X prize make under circumstances.