Which Google Lunar X Prize teams are serious? Which ones are little more than vaporware? And which teams have a serious chance of winning?
The answers to those questions will get a little bit clearer next week. The 23 teams competing to land a rover on the moon will meet in Santiago, Chile, beginning next Tuesday for their annual Summit.
The four-day meeting will be a crucial gathering during which participants will be able to better assess which teams are actually moving forward with their attempts to win the $20 million first prize. With the deadline set for the end of 2015, teams need to have their funding in place and rides to the moon set up by now to be serious contenders.
It is expected that several major announcements will come out of the meeting next week, likely involving financing, launch agreements, and team mergers, acquisitions and cooperative agreements. The field has already shrunk from 33 to 23 teams and will likely be reduced further as teams drop out or are merge.
The entire prize totals $30 million, including a $20 million first prize and a $5 million second prize. There are $5 million in additional prizes for achieving various goals.
The first prize will shrink by $15 million if a government places a rover on the moon before any of the GLXP contestants. China is planning to launch a rover toward the end of this year. None of teams is expected to launch earlier than the Chinese attempt.