You’v of course heard of Google Lunar X Prize. And more obvious than that name for us tech-enthusiasts in India is ‘Team Indus’ — the team that joined a select grouping globally to have qualified for a Lunar X Prize launch. Well, after pouring us with some fantastic news — most importantly about their PSLV contract with ISRO, they are back in the news — albeit indirectly.
According to a press announcement made by Japan’s HAKUTO team — the one that will compete along side Team Indus, HAKUTO too, will launch their Google Lunar X Prize spacecraft to moon aboard ISRO’s (and shall we say globally) hugely trusted, PSLV rocket.
Last month Team Indus announced that its spacecraft, a lunar lander and rover combo has been decided to ride on a PSLV rocket, a vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organization. Following that, Team HAKUTO today announced that it will use the same rocket as Team Indus is planning to use, to get on the surface of the Moon.
This agreement and launch contracts have been officially verified by X Prize. According to Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, a senior director at Google Lunar X Prize,
We’re proud to verify HAKUTO’s launch agreement and are pleased to see two Google Lunar X Prize teams collaborating on this mission to the Moon.”
The purpose of this prize was, in part, to foster collaboration in the private sector and this is a great demonstration of teams coming together in the next giant leap in space exploration.
Here is all you need to know about The Google Lunar X Prize:
- The Moon being Earth’s nearest neighbour in space, it provides fascinating opportunities for expanding exploration throughout our solar system and offers exciting possibilities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, resource detection and utilization, and human habitation. Hence, Google Lunar X Prize is an international competition to send first private mission to the Moon.
- One of the 16 competing teams has to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon, move the vehicle up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) on the lunar surface, and send back high-definition photos and videos to Earth.
- Each team has to fund its mission privately and is allowed to only 10 percent of funding from a government entity.
- The first team to meet all the criteria before the competition’s deadline which is slated to be December 31st, 2017, will win $20 million.
- The second place team will receive $5 million.
- Cash prizes will be given to teams that perform special feats on the Moon, such as visiting an Apollo landing site.
- The rides to space must be booked and verified by X Prize before the end of 2016 to move forward to the next phase of the competition.
Status of the leading teams:
- Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL, is the first team that has received verification for its launch contract which will be flying as a secondary payload on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets.
- The second team to receive the verification is an American-based company named Moon Express, which plans to fly its MX-1 lander on an experimental rocket called Electron, manufactured by a startup called Rocket Lab.
- Other than that, only two teams have received the verified launch contracts, namely Team Indus and an international group Synergy Moon
- A German-based team called Part-Time Scientists has signed a deal with Spaceflight Industries to launch a pair of lunar rovers as a secondary payload on a rocket, but has not been identified yet.
The remaining teams have only a few days left to meet their targets before they reach the Moon. Until then, congratulations to those who have been selected and good luck to the ones who are still planning to reach the target by the end of this month.
Co-authored by Aastha Chugh.
Editor-at-large and co-founder at The Tech Portal. He is a tech enthusiast with interests in new-age technology fields like Ai, Machine Learning, AR/VR, Outer Space and related stuff. Drop him a mail anytime, very reachable.