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Land a robot on moon, win $30 million from Google

17 September, 2007

Google has offered up to $30 million to the first private organization that is able to land a robotic spacecraft safely on the Earth’s moon.

The fantastic contest offered by Google, in collaboration with the X Prize Foundation – a foundation known for offering challenges for monetary reward – will be open to any “non-governmental entity” that is able to complete the mission.

Specifically, the craft will have to travel at least 500 meters on the Moon’s surface before sending at least one gigabyte of images and videos back to researchers from the Moon.

All spacecraft must have high-definition video and still-cameras equipped to meet minimum requirements. The first team to complete these tasks will receive the top prize of $20 million.

Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, elaborated on the plan: “The Google Lunar X Prize calls on entrepreneurs, engineers, and visionaries from around the world to return us to the lunar surface and explore this environment for the benefit of all humanity. The Google funding
and the Google title punctuates our desire for breakthrough approaches and global participation.”

All teams entering the contest face an expensive, daunting task. To accompany the construction of a spacecraft able to withstand the travel and
photography portions of the contest, competitors must also pay to use or build a launch vehicle to get the craft to the Moon. Once there, remotely controlling the spacecraft to take photographs and videos will also prove to be difficult.

A bonus of $5 million will be offered to the company responsible for successfully landing on the Moon and taking pictures. Google will offer a $5-million
final bonus to the team’s rover that can successfully complete other missions while on the Moon – furthest distance traveled, finding water or ice, best endurance to the cold lunar nights, and so on.

All interested parties have until 2012 to complete the required tasks to collect the prize. If all teams are unable to complete the task, Google will extend the deadline to 2014, but the prize amount will also drop by $5 million.

Google’s official launch website can be accessed at GoogleLunarXprize.org
National space programs are beginning to put more research and development funds into missions that involve the Moon. India, the United States, China, and Russia have plans to either land on the moon or build a lunar base on the moon within the next 25 years.





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