Everybody Wins in Google Lunar X Prize Milestone Competition


UPDATE: The total amount awarded is $5.25 million out of $6 million. The winners are:

  • Astrobotic: $1.75 million (Landing, Mobility, Imaging)
  • Moon Express: $1.25 million (Landing, Imaging)
  • Team Indus: $1 million (Landing)
  • Part Time Scientists: $750,000 (Mobility, Imaging)
  • Hakuto: $500,000 (Mobility)

Moon Express did not win any funds for mobility. Team Indus did not receive any funding for imagining.

The milestone funds will be deducted from the $20 million first prize and the $5 million second prize should any of the teams win them.

The winners of the $6 million Google Lunar X Prize milestone award competition won’t be announced until sometime on Monday, but it appears that everyone is a winner.

The competition has been inviting people to an exclusive live chat on Monday with the five winning teams. Of the 18 remaining teams in the competition, the number competing for the milestones was….five. So, everyone must have won something.

The prizes will be awarded during a glitzy, invitation-only affair in San Francisco on Monday night. Team members are flying in from all over the world to receive the prizes.

The three categories of milestone prizes and the teams that competed included:

Landing System Milestone Prize
Amount: $1,000,000 per team
Number of Awards: 3
Competing Teams: Astrobotic, Moon Express, Team Indus

Based on the hardware and software that enables a soft-landing on the moon.

Mobility Subsystem Milestone Prize
Amount: $500,000 per team
Number of Awards: 4
Competing Teams: Astrobotic, Moon Express, Hakuto, Part Time Scientists

Based on the mobility system that allows the craft to move 500 meters after landing

Imaging Subsystem Milestone Prize
Amount: $250,000 per team
Number of Awards: 4
Competing Teams: Astrobotic, Moon Express, Part Time Scientists, Team Indus

Based on producing “Mooncasts” consisting of high-quality images and video on the lunar surface.

Last month, it was announced that Astrobotic and its partner, Carnegie Mellon University, won two milestone prizes worth $750,000: $500,000 for demonstrating the mobility of their rover; and $250,000 for their imaging subsystem.

A story in the Economic Times says that Team Indus has won $1 million. The report doesn’t indicate which prize the team won, but it is in all probability one of the three landing system milestone prizes. The only other prize Team Indus competed for was the $250,000 imaging subsystem award, which was only worth $250,000. Although there are up to four imaging awards, I believe a team can only win in each category once.

The $6 million in milestone money was carved out of the $30 million Google put up for the competition. There is a $20 million first prize for landing a rover on the moon and going 500 meters and a $5 million second prize. An additional $5 million is set aside for related achievements.

The milestone prizes are aimed at support teams that are making technological progress, and helping them with financing needed to land their vehicles on the moon. They are also designed to generate publicity for the nearly eight-year old prize competition.

GLXP has been dogged by a number of problems since it was announced in 2007. The global recession dried up financing sources for the teams. The original Dec. 31, 2012 deadline was extended to the end of 2015. In December, the prize further extended the deadline another year when it became clear that none of the teams would launch this year. If no team has a firm launch date by the end of 2015, the competition will end with only milestone winners.