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Posted: Jan 26, 2015

Private Moon race heats up as five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams take home $5.25 million (w/video)

(Nanowerk News) XPRIZE, the global leader in incentivized prize competition, today announced that five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams have been awarded a combined US$5.25 million in recognition of key technological advancements toward their quest to land a private spacecraft on the surface of the moon.
Determined by a judging panel of science, aeronautics and space industry experts that evaluated numerous tests over the past year, the Milestone Prizes honor hardware and software innovations needed to overcome technical risks in the three crucial areas—Imaging, Mobility and Landing systems—all of which are necessary to complete a successful Google Lunar XPRIZE mission.
The 9 awarded Milestone Prizes are as follows:
  • Astrobotic (US): IMAGING ($250,000), MOBILITY ($500,000), LANDING ($1M)
  • Hakuto (Japan): MOBILITY ($500,000)
  • Moon Express (US): IMAGING ($250,000), LANDING ($1M)
  • Part-Time Scientists (Germany): IMAGING ($250,000), MOBILITY ($500,000)
  • Team Indus (India): LANDING ($1M)
  • “The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is asking teams to accomplish a feat that has never been achieved—the safe landing of a private craft on the lunar surface that travels at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and imagery back to Earth,” said Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president, XPRIZE. “Congratulations to these five talented teams on winning Milestone Prizes. The goal of this unprecedented competition is to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration and these achievements represent a pivotal moment in this important journey back to the moon.”
    "We would like to congratulate Astrobotic, Hakuto, Moon Express, Part-Time Scientists and Team Indus on their Milestone Prize Award wins, as well as the other 13 Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors, all of which continue to devote tireless dedication to this goal,” said Matt Hirst, Head of Brand Partnerships and Experiences, Google. “At Google, we passionately believe in the power of asking big questions and we are proud to support the efforts of those who push boundaries in science and society to create a better world.”
    For each Milestone Prize category, teams carried out a number of hardware tests representative of their planned lunar mission, while sharing extensive design information and analysis with the judging panel. The Landing prizes have been awarded to teams that demonstrated advanced progress on their spacecraft that will land on the moon, the Mobility prizes recognize the vehicle that will need to move across the lunar surface and the Imaging prizes acknowledge the camera system needed to send high definition imagery and video to back to Earth.
    The Milestone Prizes will be awarded at a private event tonight hosted by XPRIZE and Google at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
    Competing for the Milestone Prizes is an optional part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Teams that chose not to participate in the Milestone Prizes are still eligible to win the Grand or Second Place Prizes. The prize money for the Milestone Prizes will be deducted from any future Grand or Second Place Prize winnings of that team.
    The deadline for the Google Lunar XPRIZE was officially extended until December 31, 2016. As part of this revised timeline, at least one team must provide documentation of a scheduled launch by December 31, 2015 for all teams to move forward in the competition.
    Source: XPRIZE
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