Google funding $30 million
in Lunar Rover competition
X-Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis
By Jason Bennert
September 13, 2007
Google announced a competition today in which a private team
can win as much as $25 million by landing a robotic rover on the
moon and completing a specific set of tasks.
Mountian View-based Google is partnering with the X Prize Foundation,
the nonprofit institute best known for 2004's $10 million Ansari
X Prize awarded to a team led by aircraft designer Burt Rutan
and Microsoft Corp. cofounder Paul Allen for creating the world's
first successful private spaceship.
The competition also includes a $5 million award for second place
making its total value $30 million.
"The Google Lunar X PRIZE calls on entrepreneurs, engineers
and visionaries from around the world to return us to the lunar
surface and explore this environment for the benefit of all humanity,''
X Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis said in a prepared statement.
"We are confident that teams from around the world will help
develop new robotic and virtual presence technology, which will
dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration.''
The grand prize is $20 million until Dec. 31, 2012. In order
to win it, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded
spacecraft on the moon, rove the lunar surface for a minimum of
500 meters and transmit a specific set of video, images and data
back to the Earth.
The team can earn up to $5 million in bonus money by successfully
completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer than
5,000 meters, imaging man made artifacts such as hardware left
on the moon by the Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early
70s, discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid
lunar night of approximately 14.5 Earth days.
The grand prize will drop to $15 million between Dec. 31, 2012,
and Dec. 31, 2014. After that date the competition will be terminated
unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation.
To win the second prize, a team must land their spacecraft on
the moon, rove and transmit data back to Earth. It will be available
until Dec. 31, 2014.
Diamandis believes that the participation of Google will help
generate interest and excitement in the competition, especially
among young people.
"Having Google fund the purse and title the competition
punctuates our desire for breakthrough approaches and global participation.
By working with the Google team, we look forward to bringing this
historic private space race into every home and classroom. We
hope to ignite the imagination of children around the world,''
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