The first privately funded moon landing crashed onto the lunar surface on Thursday.
SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander got about 10 km above the moon when it began experiencing a problem with its engine. Communications were lost and then controllers announced that the spacecraft had crashed.
“If at first you don’t succeed, you try again,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined the SpaceIL team at the control center.
The $100 mission by the former Google Lunar X Prize team was largely unwritten by billionaire Morris Kahn with some funding assistance from the Israel Space Agency.
Israel was attempting to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the United States, Soviet Union and China.
Officials put a brave face on the failure, saying SpaceIL had been successful in placing the satellite into orbit around the moon before today’s unsuccessful landing attempt.
If the landing had succeeded, SpaceIL would have received a $1 million award XPRIZE Chairman Peter Diamandis. XPRIZE had run the Google Lunar X Prize, which was a $30 million competition to land a rover on the moon capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface.
Google canceled the competition in January 2018 after numerous extensions when it became clear that none of the remaining teams was close to winning the prize.
This past week, the XPrize acknowledged the obvious: after 10 years and multiple deadline extensions, none of the five remaining teams was going to claim the Google Lunar X Prize by landing a privately-built vehicle on the moon that would travel 500 meters across the surface while sending back high-definition video.
The first team to accomplish that goal would have claimed $20 million; the second, $5 million. But, unlike the moon race of the 1960’s, Google’s much hyped moon shot ended not with the deafening roar of a launch but the deadening silence of a dream deferred.
CULVER CITY, Calif. (X Prize PR) — “After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31st, 2018 deadline. This literal “moonshot” is hard, and while we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed.
We are extraordinarily grateful to Google for enabling this 10-year journey with us and for having the foresight and courage to support and catalyze the commercial space industry, which was the ultimate goal of this competition.
NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.
From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Space Systems Loral, Google and Teledyne.
SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.) (more…)
Video Caption: The International Space Station is a marvel of modern science and engineering. Astronauts have occupied the pressurized modules for over 16 years, and now you can explore their work and living spaces in Google Street View. From the research, to the “orbital outhouse” to the inspirational views back down to Earth from the cupola, take a look at the images here: google.com/streetview
LOS ANGELES, August 16, 2017 (XPRIZE PR) – Today, XPRIZE and Google announce that $4.75M in additional Milestone Prize money will be available to Google Lunar XPRIZE finalist teams for achieving technological milestones along the way to the Moon.
Additionally, XPRIZE established a mission completion deadline of March 31, 2018, regardless of the initiation date, in order for teams to win the Grand or Second-Place Prizes.
Bryce Space and Technology has produced a new report, Start-up Space: Update on Investment in Commercial Space Ventures.
Below is the executive summary. You can also download the full report.
The Start-Up Space series examines space investment in the 21st century and analyzes investment trends, focusing on investors in new companies that have acquired private financing. Space is continuing to attract increased attention in Silicon Valley and in investment communities world-wide. Space ventures now appeal to investors because new, lower-cost systems are envisioned to follow the path terrestrial tech has profitably traveled: dropping system costs and massively increasing user bases for new products, especially new data products. Large valuations and exits are demonstrating the potential for high returns. (more…)
It looks as if Team SpaceIL is out of the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize.
Quartzreports the Israeli team will not be able to launch its lander/rover to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster until some time next year — too late to meet the end-of-2017 deadline required to win the prize.
SAN FRANCISCO (Planet Labs PR) — Planet Labs is thrilled to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Google, wherein Planet will acquire the Terra Bella business including the SkySat constellation of satellites, and Google upon closing, will enter into a multi-year contract to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet.
I can speak for everyone at Planet when I say that we’re incredibly excited about this opportunity. We’ve long admired what the team at Terra Bella has achieved and we think the SkySat constellation of 7 high resolution satellites is highly complementary to Planet’s existing medium resolution 60-satellite fleet. The former enable regular, rapidly updated snapshots of select areas of the globe at sub-meter resolution; the latter regular, global coverage at 3-5 meter resolution. The two systems under one roof will be truly unique and will enable valuable new capabilities.
It looks as if Google’s foray into satellites could be short lived:
Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in talks to sell its satellite business to competitor Planet Labs Inc., a satellite-imagery startup that is seeking a new round of funding to help pay for the possible acquisition, according to people familiar with the talks.
The sale of its satellite-imagery unit, Terra Bella, would be a rapid about-face for Google, which has recently shed some of its bolder ventures. Google bought the company for $500 million in 2014, when it was known as Skybox Imaging.
Discussions about the possible acquisition, which were first reported by Bloomberg News on Monday, are focused on a possible cash plus equity deal, the people said. Planet, founded in 2011, is seeking to raise funds to help finance the deal and pay for continuing operations, one of the people said.
Part 2 of an occasional series on entrepreneurial buzz words
By Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Recently, 145 Silicon Valley tech executives wrote an open letter opposing the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for president. In the letter, they basically declared the billionaire to be a threat to America’s very future.
We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy—and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.
Video Caption: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Walt Mossberg about his plans to send a one-way rocket to Mars in 2018. He estimates colonists could start arriving on the Red Planet by 2025. Musk also talks about the proliferation of electric vehicle initiatives that compete with his other company, Tesla, and why autonomous cars will become the norm. He says he doesn’t see Google as a competitor, but that “Apple will be more direct.” Plus: Why Musk wants more people to have access to the power of artificial intelligence.
Editor’s Note: Musk said he hopes to launch one of its recovered first stages within 2 to 3 months. He re-iterated his hope to launch the Falcon Heavy by the end of the year.
On Mars, Musk said SpaceX plans to send flights to Mars every 26 months beginning with the 2018 launch window. If everything goes according to plan, the first crew would be launched in 2024 and arrive the following year. He also talked about creating a way to get people to Mars in 3 months with the goal of reducing transit times to 1 month.
Musk said he thought direct democracy — people voting on laws — would be best for Mars. He feels it would be less corrupt than representative democracy. However, he felt it should be easier to repeal existing laws than to make new ones.
Musk plans to unveil his full plan for colonizing the Red Planet at a conference in Mexico in September.
Video Caption: Academy Award®-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel, Executive Producer J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot and Epic Digital have joined forces with Google and XPRIZE to create a documentary web series about the people competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE.