Google Increases Financial Commitment to Google Lunar X Prize

GoogleLunarXPRIZE_Logo
Google has increased the maximum amount it will give out in the Google Lunar X Prize from $30 million to $40 million, the XPrize announced.

The increase was made to accommodate a series of milestone prizes the competition awarded this week to five of the 18 teams in the competition. A total of $5.25 million was awarded to Astrobotic, Hakuto, Moon Express, Part-time Scientists and Team Indus. The amounts ranged from $500,000 to $1.75 million.

The funding for the milestone awards was taken from the $5 million second prize and the $20 million grand prize for the first privately funded team to land a rover on the moon and travel 500 meters.

If any of the five teams that obtained milestone funding wins the grand and second prizes, the milestone amounts will be deducted from the total prize amounts. If they do not win the prizes, they get to keep their milestone awards, the foundation says.

It’s also possible that two of the 13 teams that didn’t receive milestone awards will win the grand and second prizes. That could potentially the potential amount awarded in the competition above $30 million, which is why Google increased its commitment.

XPRIZE also revealed they are considering adding a series of additional milestone awards to be funded from Google’s $40 million commitment.

“XPRIZE has been exploring opportunities for another set of prizes that teams can win while flying their actual Google Lunar XPRIZE mission, but before the full set of mission requirements are completed,” according to the website. “The objective of these additional Milestone prizes would be to reduce the risk for teams’ financial backers by providing a chance to earn some of the prize money before completing the most high risk phase of the mission, the soft-landing on the lunar surface.”

In addition to the grand and second prizes, the competition has funds set aside for other achievements:

  • “Apollo Heritage Bonus Prize: Up to $4 million of the ‘bonus’ purse, dependent on other bonus prizes claimed, for the first team craft to safely investigate the state of an Apollo heritage site.
  • Water Detection: Up to $4 million of the ‘bonus’ purse, dependent on other prizes claimed, for the first team to detect water ice on the Moon.
  • Range Bonus Prize: Up to $2 million of the ‘bonus’ purse, dependent on other bonus prizes claimed, for the first team craft to go 5 kilometers on the Moon (10 times the required 500m!).
  • Survival: Up to $2 million of the ‘bonus’ purse, dependent on other bonus prizes claimed, for the first team craft to survive the lunar night.
  • Diversity Award: $1 million for the team that accomplishes the most in bringing space to new people.
  • Heritage Bonus Prize: Up to $1 million of the ‘bonus’ purse, dependent on other bonus prizes claimed, for the first team craft to safely investigate the site of a non-Apollo mission.”

The deadline for landing on the moon is Dec. 31, 2016. If no teams provides evidence of a firm launch contract for 2016 by the end of this year, the competition will end.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Gee, for another $20 million or so they could have just fully funded a lander in 2007…

    But gotta keep the hype going.

  • Douglas Messier

    Prizes are great in that Google puts up only a portion of the money needed for the mission. Everyone else does all the hard work and takes all the risks. If it fails, Google’s out $5.25 million plus whatever it spent on promotion, etc. Drop in the bucket.

    If it works, Google has paid only part of the cost of sending a high-resolution imaging system and rover to the moon in what becomes a global spectacle that it and X Prize hype in ways only they can.

    Now, Google controls all the media rights to the mission, which means they can monetize all the video on YouTube by selling ads against it. And licensing it to others. The winning team gets a cut after Google deducts expenses and X Prizes take a percentage as a management fee.

    Not a bad deal.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, it is a bad model for industry development. Even in aviation its impact was more around the edges than in the main stream of development.

    I suspect that when the 2016 deadline approaches you will see another extension since its unlikely, unless one of the teams hit the lottery, anyone will have the funding needed.