In a blatant, if rather clever PR stunt, the US based mobile phone retailer, YouNeverCall has offered a prize for the first mobile phone call to be made from the moon. Their announcement follows the decision by Google to support the X-Prize foundation’s US$30 million in prizes for the first private vehicle to be landed on the Moon by 2015.
In order to claim the US$10,000 prize a cell phone call must be placed by a device or person present on the Moon’s surface. This call must pass through a commercially available cellular phone to YouNeverCall’s corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. The call may travel via any protocol or compression before reaching their offices, and it must be possible to for the caller to answer a few yes/no questions correctly.
That should allow for conventional radio broadcasts from the lunar surface back to earth, then for the signal to be passed over a conventional terrestial cellphone network – so it doesn’t technically have to be a "cellphone call from the moon".
Like Google, YouNeverCall is offering a lesser prize for companies who achieve a related but lesser goal. YouNeverCall is offering a $500 prize to the first SMS message that travels via the moon and lands on one of our corporate cell phones.
YouNeverCall reminded readers that use of cell phones outside of one’s calling area may incur steep roaming charges.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE was introduced on 13 September 2007. The goal of the prize is similar to that of the Ansari X PRIZE, to inspire a new generation of private investment in space exploration and technology. The challenge calls for teams to compete in successfully launching, landing, and operating a rover on the lunar surface. The prize awards US$20 million to the first team to land a rover on the moon that successfully roves more than 500 meters and transmits back high definition images and video. There is a US$5 million second prize, as well as $5 million in potential bonuses prizes for extra features such as roving long distances (greater than 5,000 meters) capturing images of man made objects on the moon, or surviving a lunar night.