Google Lunar XPRIZE Winners Announced
[Via Satellite 01-26-2017] XPRIZE and Google have announced that a $1 million diversity prize will be split among 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, and that five teams have verified launch contracts and are moving forward to the final phase of the competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. “XPRIZE and Google have been awestruck by the educational outreach activities conducted by all of the competing teams and have decided to split the $1 million Diversity Prize across all 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of Google Lunar XPRIZE. “Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
All teams had until Dec. 31, 2016 to have a verified launch contract in place. XPRIZE has verified the launch contracts of the following five teams, who are moving forward to the final phase of the competition:
- SpaceIL (Israel), a non-profit organization, has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Their goal is to make an educational impact and to create an “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
- Moon Express (USA) signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020. Their directive is to open up the Moon’s vast resources for humanity and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
- Synergy Moon’s (International) team member Interorbital Systems will serve as the launch provider using a Neptune 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon. Synergy Moon is made of up individuals from more than 15 countries, with a mission to make manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
- TeamIndus (India) signed a commercial launch contract aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft is designed to nestle inside the nosecone of the PSLV and will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- Hakuto (Japan) signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, which could lead to important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.
In recognition of the diverse mission plans of each finalist team, XPRIZE made an update to the guidelines to require that the launch is initiated by the December 31, 2017 deadline, instead of completed.