Google Lunar X Prize Down to Five Teams

GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked above the surface of the Earth on January 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration. (Credits: NOAA/NASA)
GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked above the surface of the Earth on January 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration. (Credits: NOAA/ NASA)

After 10 years, the Google Lunar X Prize is down to five finalists. The survivors include:

  • Hakuto (Japan)
  • Moon Express (USA)
  • SpaceIL (Israel)
  • Synergy Moon (International)
  • Team Indus (India)

The teams have until the end of this year to launch a vehicle to the moon. The vehicle must travel 500 meters across the lunar surface and return high-definition video.

There is a $20 million prize for the first team to accomplish this goal. The second prize is worth $5 million.

  • Brian Hall

    What happened to Part Time Scientists? Some issue with the launch contract they announced in November?

  • JamesG

    Deadline extension in 3… 2… 1…

  • Douglas Messier

    I’m skeptical about that. What people don’t understand about these prizes is what a sponsor pays XPRIZE in overhead is usually about equal to the prize amount. So, for a $30 million Google has probably spent that paying XPRIZE to run it. That’s what’s different between the XPrize and the Orteig Prize. Orteig just set the funds out there and didn’t have to run a competition. The difference between a prize and a business creating and promoting prizes.

    A rounding error for a company of Google’s size? True. But, they also don’t want to keep funding something with no forseeable ROI on an indefinite basis in the hope that someone wins it at some point.

    The only extension I see at the moment is allowing a team like Team Indus to launch in late 2017 and do the landing in January. It’s going to take their vehicle 20 days to cycle out to the moon.

    Of course, I could be wrong about that. Maybe they’ll extend it out another year.

  • ThomasLMatula

    So that implies Google has spent about $60 million on the Lunar X Prize, enough to have actually paid for a private lunar mission.

    As with the Ansari X-Prize the only winner appears to be the X-Prize Foundation 🙂

  • Douglas Messier

    No, probably $30 million or so given that the prizes haven’t been awarded. There has been about $5 million shelled out in milestone prizes.

  • JamesG

    Remember, Google is doing this mostly for the publicity value, with the maybe/couldbe of a new business revenue stream off the IP and streaming rights the participants sign away. So, its not really a problem if the gig gets stretched out, and in fact it would be much more of a negative if it “fails”.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Well, they certainly aren’t doing it to advance science or anything else useful. We’re definitely not seeing the next “Tom Swift” emerge from this exercise or the original. Burt Rutan is an innovative aeronautical engineer but not so much a rocket scientist. Everybody else is just super-sizing Apollo capsules and outfitting them with modern electronics. Even propulsive landing is just a baby step and those have nothing to do with the prizes.

  • savuporo

    Interesting sign of times that there is just one US of A in running here. Look at any big ticket international technology competitions and there is a bit of trend there.

    That’s not to say anyone from here is going to the moon, they are not