Google’s $30 million Moon race ends with no winner.
There’s an important deadline looming, one that not even the best and brightest from a well-established space program like NASA could hope to meet. Google’s 10-plus year Lunar X Prize project has come to a halt according to an announcement made this week.
Google’s project pitted some of the best technical minds against each other in an effort to form a startup, raise the necessary capital, and launch a rocket to the moon. Yes, the actual moon. The rocket would carry a robotic payload that had to survive to land on the surface, actually travel a pre-determined distance, then send back images from the surface.
End of the road
The competition has been fierce, but has also been fraught with delay. The original deadline passed more than five years ago, and was finally pushed back to March 31, 2018. As no plausible attempt at meeting that deadline is even possible, Google has announced an end to the competition.
The original goal was to foster commercial space flight and passenger travel, and a large pool of entrants initially began the race. At this point, however, only five teams remained. Of those five teams, spokespeople have stated that the Google prize of $20 million was not their motivation, although it certainly wouldn’t have hurt their endeavors. Japanese team Hakuto, for example, is an arm of the country’s privatized iSpace program and has raised $90 million for the lunar project on its own.
The race continues
Reportedly, the teams who still remained in the competition aren’t done with the program, even if Google is stepping back. The tech company, however, is seeking other funding sources to continue the prize. At this time, a US-based team, a Japanese team, an Israeli team, an Indian team, and one multi-national team still remained in the running and are planning to move forward rather than walk away from their years’ long effort.