Finalists of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE have been revealed with teams from US, Israel, India and Japan making the cut with each of the teams planning to launch their landers by end of 2017.
The teams making to the final are SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (USA), Synergy Moon (International), TeamIndus (India) and HAKUTO (Japan). Each of these teams have verified launch contracts and are moving forward to the final phase of the competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon.
All teams had until December 31, 2016 to have a verified launch contract in place. XPRIZE has verified the launch contracts of the following five teams. To win the prestigious Google Lunar XPRIZE award, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.
SpaceIL from Israel is a non-profit organization has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Their goal is to make an educational impact and to create an “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
Moon Express from USA signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020. Their directive is to open up the Moon’s vast resources for humanity and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
Synergy Moon team member Interorbital Systems will serve as the launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon. Synergy Moon is made of up individuals from over 15 countries, with a mission to make manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
TeamIndus from India has signed a commercial launch contract aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft is designed to nestle inside the nosecone of the PSLV and will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
HAKUTO from Japan signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in history, which could lead to important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.
XPRIZE and Google also said that a $1 million Diversity Prize will be split among 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE teams in recognition of the diverse mission plans of each of these teams and their unique approaches and initiatives over the years.
The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.