NewSpace 09: Google Lunar X Prize

earthrise

PANELISTS:

Nicole Jordan – Team Liaison, Google Lunar X Prize (Session Chair)
Bob Richards
– Odyssey Moon
Fred Bourgeois –
Founder, President and CEO, Team FREDNET
Kevin Myrick – InterPlanetary Ventures
Mike Joyce – Founder, Next Giant Leap

Mike Joyce
Founder, Next Giant Leap

— Consortium of groups, including Draper Labs and Aurora Flight Sciences
— MIT students working on a prototype lander that can be tested in 1-G environment here on Earth
— Working on hardware…

Kevin Myrick
InterPlanetary Ventures

–International team with members around the world, including Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Central Europe….
–A lot of students are not interested in space exploration – looking around the conference, sees a lot of gray hair and bald spots
–For the next conference, people need to bring their children or grandchildren….get them excited about space…
–Wanted to bring down the cost of space transportation, not just get back to the moon….
–Neptune 1000 is a clustered, modular rocket….similar to the Saturn I-B….(clustered eight engines on first stage)….dubbed it “Custer’s Last Stand”
–Group had worked on cluster rockets in the 1970s….did some tests in the developing world…actually launched them, worked very well….the problem was not technological but politically….
–Group in Sri Lanka has put together a prototype….
–Group in Bosnia is working on the team….a lot of support in the Balkans….never did rocketry before, a lot of young people who are interested….
–a good deal of their financial support is coming from the Balkans…in the newspapers frequently….

Fred Bourgeois
Founder, President and CEO, Team FREDNET

–Silicon Valley worker….wanted to create an open-source project
–All of their information is open source, available online via their Twitter page…
–Initial team of about 20 members….38 countries on six continents…
–first prototype rover was completed within 3 weeks…largely a software effort…
–after the prototype was shown on an  NBC program, about 200 people joined the team….
–since that time, team members have developed versions of rovers…
–student group is working on rover at a Spanish university….
— Not the X Prize foundation’s slogan of “Exploration through competition” – their motto is “Exploration through open source collaboration”

Bob Richards
Odyssey Moon

— Google Lunar X Prize should not be a stunt, it’s really about a viable business plan…
–“Old space and NewSpace have to come together as smart space”
–New corporate partnerships announced last week….

Questions & Answers

Q. What makes the moon affordable and sustainable?

Richards: Our model is “FedEx” to the moon. We have announced four customers since entering the race in 2007.

Fred Bourgeois: FREDNET is a proof of concept for open source collaboration. And it is a way of getting experience in being able to access space.

Mike Joyce: A number of commercial and governmental organizations interested in sending payloads to the moon. Our business plan is dependent on winning the Google Lunar X Prize.

Kevin Myrick: A lot of pent-up demand for sending cargo to space and the moon, particularly in the university community. Also, looking to use the cluster rockets they are developing to provide launches for small and nano-sat industries.

Q: How are your companies keeping afloat in this economy?

Richards: Odyssey Moon was formed to be very lean, so it’s surviving the current storm. Ultimately, it’s all about momentum and we feel that we have it with our recent agreements. Ten thousand people descended on NASA Ames on Sunday to celebrate MoonFest in honor the Apollo 11 anniversary.

Are customers are researchers, novelty companies, and commercial outfits. Not one of our customers so far is NASA.

Bourgeois: All our people are volunteers, so we’re getting by fine.