The X PRIZE Foundation has announced the official roster of 29 registered teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, an unprecedented competition to send a robot to the Moon that travels at least 500 meters and transmit video, images, and data back to the Earth. This group of teams signifies this new era of exploration’s diverse and participatory nature as it includes a huge variety of groups ranging from non-profits to university consortia to billion dollar businesses representing 17 nations on four continents. The global competition, the largest in history, was announced in September 2007, with a winner projected by 2015.
The announcement reveals eight teams that had not been previously announced: Mystical Moon of the USA, a ‘mystery team’ about which very little has been revealed; Space IL of Israel, aimed to promote scientific awareness among Israeli youth as well as develop the nation’s space industry; Puli of Hungary, composed of young Hungarian professionals and space enthusiasts; SpaceMETA of Brazil, a group with experience in creating start-ups in fields like wireless and power line communications and design thinking processes; Plan B of Canada, utilizing existing technologies in software, microprocessors, communication, guidance, and robotic systems for their technology; Penn State Lunar Lions of the USA, a combination of students and faculty and engineers from the Pennsylvania State University; Angelicum Chile of Chile, a mix of students, professionals, and entrepreneurs with engineering backgrounds; Indus of India, led by a serial entrepreneur with more than ten years of experience in developing new businesses; and Phoenicia of the USA, a former Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X CHALLENGE competitor who has worked for a variety of small groups and companies interested in building small launch vehicles.
“The official private race to the Moon is on. What I find amazing is that when we first announced this competition, we thought there might be a dozen groups talented and bold enough to compete,” said Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “Instead, we have nearly 30 teams of heroic innovators showing us a new way to the Moon.”
The announcement of the official roster of registered teams comes at a time when this new era of lunar exploration has received great recognition and credibility. Recently, NASA, the U.S. civil space agency, announced that it will purchase data related to innovative lunar missions from six Google Lunar X PRIZE teams, with contracts worth as much as $10 million each. These purchases demonstrate how public and private space exploration alike will play an important role in making missions to the Moon financially sustainable.
“Teams have purchased launch vehicles, they are well into their design process, and we have even seen NASA recognize the value of this competition by purchasing data from several competitors,” continued Diamandis. “I want to congratulate the teams that have registered. We are excited to see what they will accomplish in the coming years.”
“From the Wright brothers’ first flight to the Lewis and Clark expedition, the most successful and revolutionary discoveries often come from small, entrepreneurial teams,” said Tiffany V.C. Montague, Manager of Google Space Initiatives. “At Google, we share with this global group of innovators a passion for tackling tough technological and scientific challenges, and we wish them the best of luck as they begin the mission phase.”
Since the competition was first announced, the roster of teams has steadily grown. All of the competing teams have accepted and signed the binding set of rules for the competition.