Google, X Prize Foundation Attract 10 Teams For Moon Race - InformationWeek

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01:17 PM

Google, X Prize Foundation Attract 10 Teams For Moon Race

The contest offers $30 million in prizes to put on the moon a machine that will send video and other images and data back to Earth.

Google and the X Prize Foundation have announced that 10 teams will compete to put a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the moon.

The Google Lunar X Prize, announced six months ago, offers $30 million worth of prizes for the first teams to create a machine that can travel at least 500 meters on the lunar surface and send video and other images and data back to Earth.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said the two organizations received more than 560 letters or inquiries of interest from more than 53 countries.

"By comparison, at the six-month point of the Ansari X Prize, we had only two teams registered," he said in this week's announcement. "I think we're going to see an exciting and very competitive race to the moon, highlighted by some very creative designs unlike anything we've seen come out of the government space programs. Many of these teams represent some of the most creative and entrepreneurial minds in space exploration today."

A team that lands a privately funded spacecraft on the moon, travels across the lunar surface, and transmits images back to Earth before Dec. 31, 2012, will be eligible for a $20 million prize. The second-place team wins $5 million. Bonuses and additional prizes from "preferred partners" will also be disbursed. If it takes until 2013, the grand prize amount drops to $15 million. The contest ends Dec. 31, 2014, unless both organizations decide to extend it.

Space Florida is a preferred partner and first preferred launch site for the competition.

The 10 teams are Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association, Astrobotic, Chandah, Frednet, Lunatrex, Micro-Space, Odyssey Moon, Quantum3 Ventures, Southern California Selene Group, and Team Italia. They include private commercial ventures, researchers, university staff and students, an international team of open source developers, as well as teams from Romania, Italy, and the United States.

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