Five finalists named in Google's $20 million Lunar X-Prize

Jan 26, 2017, 00:31
Five finalists named in Google's $20 million Lunar X-Prize

Bangalore-based aerospace startup TeamIndus has entered the top five in the $30-million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition-an global contest to land and operate a robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon.

Among the five teams, there were listed the Florida-based Moon Express, the worldwide outfit Synergy Moon, Hakuto of Japan, India's Team Indus and Israel's SpaceIL.

Synergy Moon's team member, Interorbital Systems, will serve as the launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon from an open-ocean location off the California coast during the second half of 2017. Thanks to the prize, they'll also spacewalk away with $20 million.

Although 16 teams initially sought to take part, only five met the requirement of securing a launch contract by the end of 2016. $5 million goes to the second team to do the same, while millions of dollars in other prizes are also up for grabs - including bonuses for extra distance and visiting historic sites.

According to the CNET, over 30 teams from across the globe had applied for the Google Lunar XPrize contest.

Any GLXP team that fails to launch its space vehicle in time will automatically be considered out of the Google Lunar XPrize race. Moon Express has signed a multi-year contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020, the first slated for this year. The winning team will be the first one to launch to the moon, maneuver across the lunar surface and transmit high definition video and pictures back to earth. The organizers extended the contest for another two years, but eventually decided that if none of the participants could establish plans to launch in 2017 by the beginning of that year, the contest itself would be called off.

Five global teams have qualified as finalists in a race to the moon worth millions, the XPrize Foundation announced on Tuesday.

SpaceIL - An Israel-based team that has signed on with SpaceX.

"XPRIZE and Google have been awestruck by the educational outreach activities conducted by all of the competing teams and have chose to split the $1 million Diversity Prize across all 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years", Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of the Google Lunar XPrize, said in a statement.

This award was bound to reward groups of scientists for encouraging diversity in fields like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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