16 Teams In Hunt, Including Soon-To-Be-Revealed "Mystery
Two new international teams in the Google Lunar X Prize -- a $30
million competition by the X Prize Foundation to land a vehicle on
the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit a "Mooncast" back to
Earth -- were announced Tuesday in a tele-press conference from
Google Headquarters. The announcement was held as part of a Team
Summit at Google Headquarters and NASA Ames.
These recent additions bring the total number of teams to 16,
from seven different countries. The two new teams are:
- Euroluna: Based in Europe and led by Palle
Haastrup, who is a founding member and current president of the
European Lunar Exploration Association, Team Euroluna is comprised
of six people who range from 16-60 years old and whose backgrounds
span from chemical and mechanical engineering to software and
business administration. Team Euroluna plans to utilize commercial,
off-the-shelf technologies that will be downsized and implemented
in the design of their craft, ROMIT. Designed to be lightweight and
small, ROMIT will be powered by solar cells (with a total power of
less than 20W) and will have six solar panels. Additionally, all
control and command operations will be remotely controlled, with
only limited computing power on the Moon.
- Selene: Headed by Markus Bindhammer, Team
Selene (whose name represents the Greek goddess of the Moon) is
based in China and consists of a Chinese and German group of
mathematicians, physicists and designers along with aerospace and
robotic engineers. Team Selene's concept of a rocket car as the
lunar rover will be driven by a rocket engine and powered by solid
fuel, liquid fuel or compressed gas. The ignition system of LuRoCA
1, the working title of the vehicle, will be activated by remote
control or by a timer circuit. The cost-efficient craft will also
be equipped with four HD cameras and will be characterized by the
simplicity of its operation and insusceptibility to
"The Google Lunar X Prize is truly an international competition,
and with the addition of Euroluna and Selene, our first teams
headquartered in Denmark and China, respectively, the competition
continues to grow throughout the world," said Dr. Peter H.
Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation. "I'm
confident that their participation will inspire others to reach for
the stars, and wish both teams the best of luck!"
The announcement was made during a two-day Google Lunar X Prize
Team Summit, where teams were able to give "mock" sponsorship
presentations to a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists who
provided guidance on their business plan pitches and gave advice on
how to raise money more effectively. One of the objectives of the
Team Summit was to help leverage the financial playing field for
the Google Lunar X Prize and allow teams to raise the money they
need for a successful trip to the Moon.
Part two of this two-day announcement will reveal the identity
of the "Mystery Team" which is scheduled for Wednesday, December 17
at 8:30 am, PST at NASA Ames. Also announced during the
tele-conference was the groundbreaking of a new mission control
center for Team Lunatrex, in the City of Anderson, SC.
The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million
Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus
prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land
a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar
surface for a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of
video, images and data back to the Earth.
The Grand Prize is $20 million until December 31, 2012;
thereafter it will drop to $15 million until December 31, 2014 at
which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by
Google and the X Prize Foundation.