March 5, 2008 In September 2007 the X PRIZE Foundation announced a $30million prize purse for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the moon. Now the Foundation has released details of the first ten teams to register for this amazing space race.
Chairman and CEO of X PRIZE, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, said he was pleased to welcome the first ten teams just six months since the competition was launched. “By comparison, at the 6 month point of the Ansari X PRIZE we had only 2 teams registered. I think we’re going to see an exciting and very competitive race to the Moon, highlighted by some very creative designs unlike anything we’ve seen come out of the government space programs,” Dr Diamandis said.
The X PRIZE Foundation has also announced that Space Florida will be a new preferred partner and the first preferred launch site for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. Each preferred partner offers additional prizes or strategic services at a discounted rate to all competition teams. As the first preferred launch site, Space Florida will award an additional prize of $2 million to the Grand Prize winner, provided the winner launched its flight from the State of Florida and complies with all competition rules.
The ten teams that will compete to land a robotic craft on the Moon capable of roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth are:
Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA) Romania-based ARCA was also a contender in the Ansari X PRIZE. The team is also noted for creating a two-stage manned suborbital air-launched vehicle. The craft they plan to enter will be called the “European Lunar Explorer.”
Astrobotic Formed to coordinate the efforts of Carnegie Mellon University, Raytheon Company and additional institutions, the team’s specialty will be autonomous navigation meaning. Astrobotic will compete for the prize using its “Artemis Lander” and “Red Rover.”
Chandah Chandah was founded by energy entrepeanuer, Adil Jafry, who’s goal is to catalyze commercialization of space, and bring advances in space travel, tourism, sciences, and technology to the general public at large. Team Chandah’s spacecraft will be named “Shehrezade.”
FREDNET This multi-national team brings together systems, software, and hardware developers who who hope to apply the same approach used in developing major software systems (such as the Internet, and Linux) to bear on the problems associated with space exploration.
LunaTrex This US team comprises individuals, companies, and universities, each bringing their own skills of rocket science, high-altitude near-space R&D;, defense directed-energy technology, aviation, robotics, trajectories, and non-conventional propulsion. The name of the competing craft will be “Tumbleweed.”
Micro-Space Based in Colorado, Micro-Space has a 31-year history of producing world class, high tech products. Micro-Space has been a competitor in the Ansari X PRIZE and the team’s “Human Lunar Lander” will compete for this prize.
Odyssey Moon The first team to register for the competition, Odyssey Moon is a private commercial lunar enterprise headquartered in the Isle of Man. Odyssey Moon’s craft is titled “MoonOne (M-1).”
Quantum3 US-based Quantum3 is led by Paul Carliner, a senior executive in the aerospace industry. The team is proposing to field a small spacecraft called “Moondancer” to be launched from an East Coast range using launch-coast-burn trajectory for a propulsive soft landing on the surface of the Moon at the Sea of Tranquility.
Southern California Selene Group The approach taken by this group is a self-proclaimed “elegantly simple design that is relatively inexpensive to implement.” The architecture for the “Spirit of Southern California” spacecraft will combine technology from some of the earliest communications satellites with the latest in electronic and sensor technology.
Team Italia Based in Italy, Team Italia is a collaboration between several universities. The team is currently running a prototype of its system at Politecnico di Milano and the architecture of the robotic system is under study.
Further information on each competitor so far is available at the Google Lunar X-Prize site.