5 teams aim to land spacecrafts on the Moon to win Google Lunar XPrize

supermoon 12
REUTERS/David W Cerny

Want to send a spacecraft to the moon and win a whole bunch of money?

So did a whole bunch of other people, and now five teams are in the final running to do just that in the Google Lunar XPrize contest. So when do these spacecrafts hope to make it to the Moon?

In IT Blogwatch, we get ready for launch.

So what is going on? Luke Stangel has the background:

Five teams have advanced to the final stage of competition for Google’s...lunar lander contest...Each of the teams will have until Dec. 31 to get their lunar landers into orbit...The first team to...land on the Moon, travel 500 meters and broadcast high-definition photos and video back to Earth will win...$20 million. There are smaller prizes for second place and other achievements.

Pretty exciting. Who are the five teams remaining? Irene Klotz has the details:

The...five teams...in the running [are] Israel’s SpaceIL, Florida-based Moon Express, an international team known as Synergy Moon, India’s Team Indus and Japan’s Hakuto.
...
SpaceIL plans to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...Team Indus and Hakuto will share a ride on an Indian PSLV launcher...Moon Express is banking on a launch from startup Rocket Lab, which is developing a small rocket called Electron...Synergy Moon is counting on one of its partners,...Interorbital Systems, for its launch aboard a new rocket known as Neptune.

And what exactly is the Google Lunar XPrize? Tim Fernholz has that info:

The...Google Lunar XPrize...announced in 2007, was intended to build on the Ansari XPrize, which awarded $10 million to the first privately built and flown spacecraft in 2004. But no teams met the original...deadline of 2012. The organizers extended the contest for another two years, but eventually decided that if none of the participants could establish plans to launch in 2017 by the beginning of that year, the contest itself would be called off.

And what about the teams that were in the competition but didn't reach the deadline for a launch plan by the beginning of 2017? Anything happening with them? Jonathan Amos is in the know:

The XPrize organizers also announced...that a $1 [million] Diversity Prize would be split among all 16 groups that had been competing up to this point...The hope is that teams dropping out will continue with their work to develop low-cost solutions to space exploration.

Is that the goal of the competition, then? Low-cost solutions to space exploration? Mike Wall explains:

The Google Lunar XPrize...aims [to help] jump-start a new space economy and inspire people around the world to engage more fully in STEM fields...29 teams threw their hats into the ring at some point over the course of the competition's decade-long existence.

And what does Google Lunar XPrize have to say about all this? They tell us themselves:

A congrats to our finalist teams!
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