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Lunar X PRIZE

Five finalists have been selected for the Google Lunar XPrize competition (Photo: NASA/JPL...

Five international teams are moving forward from a field of 33 proposals with the goal of performing a robotic landing on the moon, followed by a short drive and high-quality video mooncast, all as part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition to incentivize a new novel, low-cost era of lunar exploration.  Read More

The Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander acts as a hub for activity on the lunar surface, sendin...

Moon Express, a privately held company driven by a short-term goal of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, and a longer-term strategy of mining the Moon, last week revealed its MX-1 lunar lander at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not a one-trick pony, the MX-1 is being designed as the first of a series of robotic spacecraft that can carry out a multitude of tasks in Earth orbit as well as in deep space.  Read More

The International Lunar Observatory Association is to send a tested telescope on board Moo...

The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) is being backed by Google Lunar X Prize contestant Moon Express in placing a small telescope on the Moon's surface to test and troubleshoot operating protocols for a fully loaded remote telescope. Last week, the ILO-X, the first ILOA telescope that will be sent to the Moon, was remotely tested by ILOA and Moon Express on the summit of Mauna Kea, and passed with flying colors. Later ILOA/Moon Express missions will include landing considerably larger telescopes at strategic locations on the lunar surface.  Read More

Backers of the RRE Kickstarter will be tasked with helping get the Asimov RA3 ready for a ...

If you’ve ever yearned to take part in a space program but haven’t been given the chance, then perhaps you should take a look at the Remote Rover Experiment (RRE) Kickstarter campaign. Created by a team named Part-Time Scientists (PTS), the project aims to involve the general public in testing technology which will eventually be sent to the moon. Available pledge points include the option to remote-pilot an Asimov R3A moon rover in an Earth-based location modeled after the Apollo 17 landing site, and the purchase of an Asimov R0 moon rover self-assembly kit.  Read More

An Interorbital Systems TubeSat in low Earth orbit

Interorbital Systems (IOS), a rocket and spacecraft construction company founded in 1996, has announced the age of the Personal Satellite. For US$8,000, IOS provides the TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit, complete with launch to low Earth orbit (LEO). A TubeSat is a (very) low-cost alternative to the CubeSat - for comparison, by the time you have assembled a CubeSat and had it placed in orbit, your cost will be well north of US$100K.  Read More

Barcelona Moon Team's lunar rover

Barcelona Moon, a new Spanish team led by entrepreneur Xavier Claramunt, has officially announced its entry into the ongoing $US30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. To win the Grand Prize, a team must soft land a privately-funded spacecraft on the moon, send a rover at least 500 meters out onto the moon’s surface, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to Earth. The as-yet-unnamed Spanish rover, appropriately enough, looks rather like a sombrero.  Read More

Many rocks and rolling ... the PicoRover that has a destination of the Moon in, hopefully,...

No matter how good the paper mache volcano that you built at school was, your effort will most likely pale in comparison to the school project being undertaken by a group of Spanish students. These students are designing a ball-shaped mini-robot named PicoRover that they plan to send to the Moon as their entry in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. To claim the US$30 million prize the robot will need to travel 500m and transmit video, images and data back to Earth.  Read More

Armadillo Aerospace will be competing at level 2 following success with its PIXEL lander

The X-Prize foundation, who teamed up with Google in 2007 to create the USD$30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition, has recorded plenty of interest. Since Odyssey Moon’s registration, a further ten parties moved swiftly to take up the gauntlet last year.  Read More

Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle and Apollo 15 lunar module, Falcon (Photo: NASA)

Exactly forty years ago today, with fuel running short and alarms buzzing, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their lunar module Eagle down on the face of the moon, and mankind took its very first step on another celestial body. Last week, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. Even after all these years, there’s something truly heroic about seeing those lunar module descent stages sitting silently on the surface, testament to man’s imagination and determination.  Read More

Odyssey Moon has announced plans to become the first private company to supply payload del...

As we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landing this week, it’s worth asking what happened to those old dreams of lunar colonies and missions to Mars. NASA is reportedly struggling thanks to a general lack of interest and, it claims, funding. But, even with USD$187 billion, their Project Constellation is unlikely to reach the moon before 2020. The best hope right now seems to be driven by the private sector: Google’s USD$30 million Lunar X PRIZE and one of its most promising contenders, Odyssey Moon, which has announced plans to become the first private company to supply payload delivery services to the Moon.  Read More

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