The Google X Prize Foundation announced a new program called the Milestone Prizes on Monday, January 26th. The statement announcing the new program noted that the Milestone Prizes will be accompanied by a total of $5.25 million awarded to five teams for progress in the categories of landing vehicle, moving on the lunar surface and imaging.
The idea of the Milestone Prizes are “to separate some teams from the pack,” noted Robert K. Weiss, the vice chairman and president of the X Prize Foundation.
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Google Lunar X Prize
Following the award of the $10 million Ansari X Prize to SpaceshipOne back in 2004, the Google Lunar X Prize was first launched in 2007, and would award $20 million to the first team that could land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon that could move at least 1,640 feet across the lunar surface and send back pictures and videos by 2012. A second team accomplishing the tasks would also receive $5 million.
The technical obstacles to the unmanned moon mission proved more significant than expected, and the completion date of the Lunar X Prize has now been extended twice to the end of 2016.
Details on the Google X Prize Milestone Program
The new Lunar X Prize Milestone Program includes $5.25 million in cash awarded by category: $1 million for each winning team for work on the lander, $500,000 for lunar mobility and $250,000 for imaging.
Astrobotic of Pittsburgh won in all three categories for a total of $1,750,000. Moon Express of Moffett Field, Calif., won in two categories (landing and imaging) for a total of $1,250,000. Part-Time Scientists, based in Germany, also received two Milestone prizes (mobility and imaging) and $750,000. The other winning teams were Team Indus, located in India, who received $1 million for its lander, and Hakuto, based in Japan, who was awarded $250,000 for imaging.
Of note, if any of these five teams eventually win the Lunar X Prize, the milestone money will be subtracted from the payout. If another team reaches the moon and accomplishes the tasks first, then it will receive the full $20 million prize.