Google Lunar XPrize competition for getting to the moon, with a dozen teams participating, is moving along at high speed. The winner will get $20 million plus $4 million extra for detecting water, says a report from Bloomberg. The first privately funded team which lands on the moon, and then travel 500 meters and beam high-definition video back to Earth will be awarded the prize.
Many teams competing
Teams from Japan, the U.S., Brazil, India and Germany see the race as an opportunity to make a mark in the nascent space market, which according to a London Economics consultant will be worth $1.9 billion within a decade.
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Tokyo-based Hakuto team said, “We are not in it for the prize alone. The race is there to speed innovation that leads to commercialization of the moon,” adding that it is possible that they discover a lunar cave, which can be useful for a habitat location. “That data would really sell,” said the team, which is building a lunar rover.
Hakuto, which is named after a folk tale about a rabbit on the moon, plans to sell its Moonraker rover’s data to domestic and overseas agencies. Hakuto’s Moonraker, which is supported by four wheels with paddles to collect samples, already won $500,000 prize from Google for mobility. Hakuto Moonraker Rover, which has a carbon fiber composite body that protects the electronics inside from the extremes of lunar temperature, is fitted with 360-degree camera for gathering detailed images.
Google XPrize could turn ideas into ventures
Peter Diamandis, the founder of the award, said that a cash award like Google XPrize can attract the massive investment needed to shape an idea into a reality to achieve defined goals. The winning project also need to demonstrate a viable business model, which will be useful in keeping the project running.
The images from Moonraker’s offer a definition that is a million times better the images that NASA have from the Apollo mission. The U.S. agency already said that it is ready to pay private firms almost $30 million for fresh data.
Tesla CEO’s Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or Space X, which facilitates private satellite launches for the government, is already commercializing the space travel business. However, as a reminder of the hardships of the business, on Sunday, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded just minutes after launch while carrying supplies to the International Space Station.