GLXP Competitor Blasts Master Team Agreement as “Unconscionable”

Long simmering controversies concerning the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) heated up today as one of the 28 teams competing for $30 million branded the competition’s rules as “oppressive” and “unconscionable” and accused the X Prize Foundation of tolerating a serious conflict of interest involving prominent trustee Naveen Jain, who leads one of the competitors.

“The facts of the matter are that the MTA [Master Team Agreement] is nothing more than a one-sided ‘legal framework’ to benefit the X PRIZE Foundation and Google while placing an unreasonable burden on the teams. The agreement is egregiously one-sided, overly burdensome, oppressive and unconscionable,” Team Mystical Moon wrote in a blog post.


Will Lunar Competitors Forego the Google Lunar X Prize Over IP Rights?

Sometime during the next 3 years, a rocket will sit on a launch pad in Florida or elsewhere in the world containing a lunar lander and rover built to win the Google Lunar X Prize. Only, the team launching it might no longer be in the competition.

Why would a team turn down a minimum of $20 million in prize money for a mission that costs many times that amount?

That’s an excellent question. And a fascinating tale. Read on.


Watchdog Group Questions Google Use of Moffett Field

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2009: Douglas Messier)

A consumer watchdog group called (of all things) Consumer Watchdog has issued a report focusing on Google’s allegedly close relationship with the federal government. One of the issues they have raised involves Google’s $1.3 million per year lease of space at Moffett Field, which is under the control of NASA Ames:

One of the most visible signs of Google’s clout, the report said, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters. When a deal between NASA and top Google executives to use the base was first disclosed in 2007, it called for only four jets to use the base.

But newly released government records show that the Google executive fleet has now grown to six jets and two helicopters, while at least 40 Google employees hold security badges at the base and all of the planes are supplied with Department of Defense jet fuel.


The Billionauts are Back!

The Soyuz -- soon to fly again with billionauts aboard!

Pop the corks! Light up those Cubans with $100 bills! And order that Beluga caviar by the ton!

Yes, prospective billionauts around the world are celebrating today. They will soon have rides into orbit, thanks to a new deal between the Russians and an American space tourism company:

Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, announced today the conclusion of an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2013.

These seats will be made available through the increase of Soyuz production, from four to five spacecraft per year. Each flight will be short duration, approximately 10 days, and will contribute to the increase of launch capacity to the ISS.


NASA to Hold First Information Technology Summit


NASA’s first Information Technology (IT) Summit will bring together government and industry leaders to explore the outer reaches of information technology.

The summit, which takes place August 16-18 at the Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland, will gather 750 participants and more than 100 expert presenters with themes on collaboration, social networking, innovation, infrastructure, operations and IT security and privacy.


Space Cadets on Forbes’ Top 400 Billionaires List

Google co-founder Sergey Brin (center, full head of hair) on a parabolic flight.

Forbes has come out with its list of top 400 American billionaires. Four prominent men involved in backing high-profile space ventures are on the list:

#11 Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder
Net Worth: $15.3 billion

#11 Larry Page, Google Co-Founder
Net Worth: $15.3 billion

#17 Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne backer
Net Worth: $11.5 billion

#28 Jeffrey Bezos, and Blue Origin Founder
Net Worth: $8.8 billion

Next Step in Space Coalition Adds Google, NSS to Membership


The Next Step in Space Coalition, a group of businesses, organizations, and people working to ensure the future of US human spaceflight, announced today that its membership has grown to include a diverse set of businesses and organizations, including Google, Inc., Analytic Graphics Inc., the Space Coast Economic Development Commission and the National Space Society.


Google Earth Goes All 3-D on the Moon

Google Earth now brings you the moon
Financial Post

On Monday, the search engine giant unveiled Moon in Google Earth, an interactive, three-dimensional atlas of the Moon as part of its Google Earth 5.0 satellite imaging and mapping software, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin’s historic sojourn on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.


NASA Astronaut Now Working on Google Energy Effort

Former NASA astronaut Ed Lu
Former NASA astronaut Ed Lu

Astronaut lands as Google’s ‘energy nerd’

On the spacecraft, [Ed] Lu had to monitor its energy use closely and shut things down immediately after they were no longer needed. But that is not the direct reason he turned into an “energy nerd”, as his colleagues are calling him.


Is SpaceShipTwo Rocket Engine Testing Complete?

In an interviewed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt during the Google Zeitgeist conference, Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson gave an update on the status of SpaceShipTwo in which he appeared to say that testing of the rocket engine is complete.

“Where we are now is the mothership that takes the spaceship up is finished and flying,” Branson said 44 minutes into the session. “And the rockets (have) finished their testing. In December, the spaceship will be finished. And it will then get started on (an) extensive test program.”


Billionaut Brin Aims for the Stars

Master of the Online Universe
The Observer

Turning medical research on its head is just one of Brin’s current projects. At the same time as being involved, as part of a triumvirate with co-founders Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt, with the day-to-day running of Google, his expansion plans stretch from literature – Google has hopes of digitising every book ever published – into outer space.


Google Mars 3-D Lets You Track Martian Spacecraft in Real Time

Google Mars 3-D Offers Guided Martian Tour

Armchair explorers can now spy on Mars orbiters and access raw spacecraft data from NASA — part of a new “Live from Mars” update for Google Mars 3-D.

NASA and Google, Inc., joined forces to launch the Mars add-on for the popular Google Earth platform in February. The March update includes new features such as watching orbital tracks of spacecraft in real-time, peeling back historical globe maps of Mars and taking a guided fly-around tour of the red planet.