It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.
A New Direction for NASA?
NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.
Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.
Team Hakuto of Japan has announced plans to place its lunar rover aboard a landing craft being launched to the moon by Google Lunar X Prize rival Team Indus of India.
The announcement comes as U.S.-based Astrobotic announced it was withdrawing from the $30 million competition to land the first private rover on the moon. Team Hakuto was one of three teams planning to launch payloads to the moon next year aboard Astrobotic’s spacecraft.
Astrobotic now plans to launch its rover to the moon in 2019 with a second rover from Team Hakuto aboard. That flight will be too late to win the Google Lunar X Prize, which requires teams to launch their rovers by the end of 2017.
The competition has a $20 million prize for the first privately built rover to travel 500 meters across the surface and transmit high-definition video. There also is a $5 million second prize.
Astrobotic has pulled out of the Google Lunar X Prize, according to an update on the Space Angels Network website.
As a former XPRIZE contender, Astrobotic was the only team to win all three of the competition’s Milestone Prizes, which brought the company $1.75 million in prize money. Astrobotic is now poised for further success: Their Peregrine Lander will carry customer payloads to the Moon’s surface in 2019, including the rovers of three other GLXP competitors. These initial customers, who have had an opportunity to evaluate all potential service providers, have said that Astrobotic is “years ahead of the competition.” (more…)
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.
SAN FRANCISCO (XPRIZE PR)—XPRIZE, the global leader in incentivized prize competition, today announced that five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams have been awarded a combined US$5.25 million in recognition of key technological advancements toward their quest to land a private spacecraft on the surface of the moon. Determined by a judging panel of science, aeronautics and space industry experts that evaluated numerous tests over the past year, the Milestone Prizes honor hardware and software innovations needed to overcome technical risks in the three crucial areas—Imaging, Mobility and Landing systems—all of which are necessary to complete a successful Google Lunar XPRIZE mission.
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 deadline for winning the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize has been moved back again. The XPrize Foundation has announced a one-year delay in the prize to Dec. 31, 2016, contingent upon at least one team providing “documentation of a scheduled launch by December 31, 2015, for all teams to move forward in the competition.”
The foundation also announced that Astrobotic and its partner, Carnegie Melon University (CMU), had won the first two of a series of milestone awards aimed at providing funding to the teams. XPrize and Google will award up to $6 million in milestone prizes next month.
“We continue to see significant progress from our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, most recently demonstrated in the pursuit of the Milestone Prizes, in which teams exhibited substantial technological achievements that will ultimately support their missions,” Robert K. Weiss, XPRIZE vice chairman and president, said in a press release.
LOS ANGELES, CA, Feb. 19, 2014 (GLXP PR) — The Google Lunar XPRIZE announced today the five international teams selected as finalists for Milestone Prizes, with a total purse of $6 million to be awarded this year. After reviewing 33 total submissions, the nine member independent judging panel selected 11 submissions from the following teams: Astrobotic (US), Moon Express (US), Hakuto (Japan), Part-Time-Scientists (Germany), and Team Indus (India).
The Milestone Prizes were added to recognize the technological achievements and the associated financial hurdles faced by the teams as they vie for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon.