Israel’s SpaceIL, Japan, and the US mission to reach the moon is still a go, despite Google has canceled the race in January, when it became clear that none of the remaining teams would complete the trip by the March 31 deadline.
“We are full steam ahead,” Yigal Harel, program director at SpaceIL, told business times.
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Google Lunar X Prize competition challenged and inspired engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.
To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth, before the mission deadline of December 31, 2017.
According to CB Insights, by December 2017, overall investment in space startups by venture capitalists climbed to a record $2.8 billion.
When the Lunar XPrize race was announced in 2007, the competition began with 32 teams. The first deadline was December 31, 2010.
After a few false-starts, the deadline was set for December 31, 2016.
When previous launches failed to materialize, just five teams remain in the race and a final deadline set of March 31, 2018.
It seemed that the Moon race is dead. But with the enthusiasm of the Israeli SpaceIL team, Japan, and the US, the moon is now within easier and so much cheaper to reach.
Escaping Earth’s gravity launch services can put a satellite into orbit for about one-tenth what it would have cost a decade ago due to private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
On the other hand, also NASA, China, Russia and SpaceX itself are showing an interest in the moon exploration, so maybe we’ll yet see one of these teams get involved in a future endeavor.