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definition - Google_Lunar_X_Prize

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Google Lunar X Prize

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The Google Lunar X Prize, sometimes referred to as simply Moon 2.0,[1][2] is a space competition organized by the X Prize Foundation, and sponsored by Google. It was announced at the Wired Nextfest on 13 September 2007.[3] The challenge calls for privately-funded spaceflight teams to compete in successfully launching, landing, and then traveling across the surface of the moon with a robot, while also sending back to Earth specified photo and other data.

Contents

Competition summary

The Prize is to award US$20 million to the first team to land a robot on the moon that successfully travels more than 500 metres (1,640 ft) and transmits back high definition images and video. There is a US$5 million second prize, as well as US$5 million in potential bonus prizes for extra features such as traveling long distances (greater than 5,000 metres (3 mi)), capturing images of man made objects on the moon, detecting ice on one of the Moon's craters, discovering the remains of Apollo program hardware, or surviving a lunar night. The X Prize offers the US$20 million first-place prize until 31 December 2012, thereafter it offers US$15 million until 31 December 2014.[4]

Overview

Peter Diamandis, the project founder, wrote on the official web page:
"It has been many decades since we explored the Moon from the lunar surface, and it could be another 6 - 8 years before any government returns. Even then, it will be at a large expense, and probably with little public involvement."[5]

The goal of the Google Lunar X Prize is similar to that of the Ansari X Prize: to inspire a new generation of private investment in hopes of developing more cost-effective technologies and materials to overcome many limitations of space exploration that are currently taken for granted. This could result in improvements in many key technological areas:[citation needed]

  • Shielding astronauts from cosmic and solar radiation
  • Beam power to enable fast transportation in the solar system
  • Building large telescopes and other astronomical tools to learn much more about the universe and how it came to be
  • Protecting the Earth from the threat of impacts from asteroids and comets

Origin of the prize

Similar to the way in which the Ansari X Prize was formed, the Google Lunar X Prize was created out of a former venture of Peter Diamandis to achieve a similar goal. Dr. Diamandis served as CEO of BlastOff! Corporation, a commercial initiative to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon as a mix of entertainment, internet, and space. Although it was ultimately unsuccessful, the BlastOff! initiative paved the way for the Google Lunar X Prize.[6]

Initially, NASA was the planned sponsor and the prize purse was just US$20 million. As NASA is a federal agency of the United States government, and thus funded by US tax money, the prize would only have been available to teams from the United States. The original intention was to propose the idea to other national space agencies, including the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency, in the hope that they would offer similar prize purses.However, budget setbacks stopped NASA from sponsoring the prize. Peter Diamandis then presented the idea to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, at an X Prize Foundation board meeting. They agreed to sponsor it, and also to increase the prize purse to US$30 million, allowing for a second place prize, as well as bonus prizes.

Heritage bonus prize controversy

Some objections have been raised to the offering of a bonus "Heritage Prize" to the first group that successfully sends images back to Earth of the site of a previous lunar landing, such as Tranquility Base.[7] It has been noted that such sites are archaeologically and culturally significant, and that a team attempting to win the heritage bonus might inadvertently damage or destroy such a site, either during the landing phase of the mission, or by piloting a rover around the site.

The X Prize Foundation has recognized the presence of historical "Sites of Interest" in its rulebook for competitors and states that all mission plans must be approved in order to avoid "unnecessary risk," but as of June 2009 it has not offered any specific guidelines or criteria to participating groups to assist in planning. As a result, archaeologists have called for the foundation to cancel the heritage bonus and to ban groups from targeting landing zones within 100 kilometers of previous sites.

The foundation has responded to this criticism, in an interview dated 9 June 2009, posted on Scientific American's website.[8] The foundation's newly stated position—that it hopes to foster debate about how to visit previous lunar landing sites, but that it does not want to take on the role of deciding how those visits should happen—has also been criticized by one of the authors of the editorial that started the controversy.[9]

Competitors

As of November 2009, there are 21 officially registered Google Lunar X Prize teams:[10]

Company nameCraft nameCraft typeCraft statusRef
Odyssey MoonMoonOne (M-1)roverdevelopment[11]
Astrobotic TechnologyArtemis Landerlanderdevelopment[12]
Red Roverroverdevelopment[13]
Team Italiaroverdevelopment[14]
Micro Spacedevelopment[15]
Next Giant Leapdevelopment[16]
Team FREDNET [17]To be namedLanderdevelopment[18]
To be namedRoverdevelopment[19]
ARCASPACEHAASlunar orbiterdevelopment[20]

[21]

ELEspherical roverdevelopment[22]

[23]

Lunatrexdevelopment[24]
Chandahdevelopment[25]
Advaerosdevelopment[26]
STELLARdevelopment[27]
JURBANdevelopment[28]
Omega Envoyroverdevelopment[29]
Independence-Xdevelopment[30]
SYNERGY MOONdevelopment[31]
EurolunaROMITdevelopment[32]
Team SeleneLuRoCa 1rocket cardevelopment[33]
White Label SpaceTo be namedlanderdevelopment[34]
To be namedroverdevelopment[35]
Part-Time-Scientistsdevelopment[36]
Selenokhoddevelopment[37]
Open Moonc-roveroverdevelopment[38]
SCSGwithdrawn[39]
Quantum3withdrawn[40]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Moon 2.0 Is The Next Mission For X Prize Group, And Google" (PDF). Investor's Business Daily. http://www.wirednextfest.com/inform/press07/CNN_Money%209.13.07.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  2. ^ Koman, Richard (2007-09-14). "Moon 2.0: Google Funds $30 Million Lunar X Prize". Newsfactor. http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=03300316K1J9. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  3. ^ Reiss, Spencer (2007-09-13), Google Offers $20 Million X Prize to Put Robot on Moon, 15, Wired, http://www.wired.com/science/space/magazine/15-10/ff_moon, retrieved 2007-09-16 
  4. ^ "About the Google Lunar X Prize". http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/about-the-prize. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  5. ^ "A Word From the Founders of X Prize & Google". http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  6. ^ "Origin of the prize". X Prize Foundation. http://youtube.com/watch?v=G-zGwqO5BwY. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  7. ^ Thomas, Jill and Justin St. P. Walsh, "Space Archaeology," The Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2009..
  8. ^ Matson, John, "Can space-faring companies be entrusted with the Apollo program's history?," Scientific American, "60-Second Science," 9 June 2009..
  9. ^ Matson, John, "Can space-faring companies be entrusted with the Apollo program's history?," Scientific American, "60-Second Science," Comments, 9 June 2009.
  10. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams
  11. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/odyssey-moon/about
  12. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/astrobotic/about
  13. ^ Astrobotic reveals moon mission plans msnbc.msn.com
  14. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/team-italia/about
  15. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/micro-space/about
  16. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/next-giant-leap/about
  17. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/frednet/about
  18. ^ Team FREDNET Lander Development teamfrednet.org
  19. ^ Team FREDNET Rover Development teamfrednet.org
  20. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/arca/about
  21. ^ http://www.arcaspace.ro/suborbital/en/home.htm
  22. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/arca/about
  23. ^ http://www.arcaspace.ro/suborbital/en/home.htm
  24. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/lunatrex/about
  25. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/chandah/about
  26. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/advaeros/about
  27. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/stellar/about
  28. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/jurban/about
  29. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/omega-envoy/about
  30. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/independence-x/about
  31. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/synergy-moon/about
  32. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/euroluna/about
  33. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/selene/about
  34. ^ http://www.whitelabelspace.com/2009/12/mission-concept.html
  35. ^ http://www.whitelabelspace.com/2009/12/mission-concept.html
  36. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/part-time-scientists/about
  37. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/selenokhod/about
  38. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/c-base-open-moon/about
  39. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/scsg/about
  40. ^ http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams/quantum3/about

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