Five teams from Israel, U.S, India, Japan and an international team are moving forward to the final phase to win Google Lunar XPrize.
The finalists SpaceIL, Moon Express, HAKUTO, Synergy Moon and Team Indus have until the end of this year December 31st to launch a spacecraft to the Moon and on their way to the lunar surface.
A $1 million diversity prize will be split among all 16 Google Lunar XPrize participant teams.
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The finalists are vying for a $30 million award from Google Lunar XPrize competition. The winning team will be the first to send a craft to the Moon, travel at least 500 meters there and take and transmit back to Earth HDTV pictures of it by the end of 2017.
Back in July SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman told CNN that his team did not enter the competition for the monetary reward. “There are many reasons why [we want] to be there. We, as the Israeli team, would like to put Israeli technology on the moon next to the Russians, the Americans, and China. That by its own will be a great achievement.”
According to CNN, “Israel’s space industry is a result of what many consider to be the country’s first startup: the Israel Aircraft Industries’ Lavi. In the early ’80s, Israel began developing an advanced, single-engine fighter jet, called the Lavi. The program was canceled in 1987 after the country spent approximately $1.5 billion on it. But the scientists and engineers who had worked on the program took their technical knowhow into the Israeli marketplace. One year later, Israel launched its first satellite, called Ofek.”
“XPrize and Google have been awestruck by the educational outreach activities conducted by all of the competing teams and have decided to split the $1 million Diversity Prize across all 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director, Google Lunar XPrize. “Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
All teams had until December 31, 2016 to have a verified launch contract in place. XPrize has verified the launch contracts of the following five teams, who are moving forward to the final phase of the competition:
- SpaceIL (Israel), a non-profit organization, which wants to inspire the next generation in Israel, has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, named Sparrow due for launch in the second half of this year. Their goal is to create an “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
Moon Express (USA), signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020. Their directive is to open up the Moon’s vast resources for humanity and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
- Synergy Moon (International), team member Interorbital Systems will serve as the launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon. Synergy Moon is made of up individuals from over 15 countries, with a mission to make manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
- TeamIndus (India), signed a commercial launch contract aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft is designed to nestle inside the nosecone of the PSLV and will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- HAKUTO (Japan), signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in history, which could lead to important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.