Lunar X Prize Competition Would Relaunch Without a Prize

 

Google’s decade-old competition for Lunar X Prize recently ended without a winner. Days after that, the X Prize Foundation released announcement of a “relaunch” of the competition. However, this time it does not have a prize, at least for the meantime. 

The X Prize Foundation gave its statement on April 5 announcing it would reestablish a non-cash lunar-focused contest. In the next few months, the organization will announce the details of the competition as well as what participants will need to win. 

A $20 million was the first prize to the original Lunar X competition along with several other secondary prizes.  On March 31, it formally expired with no team launched to a lunar lander mission. With this, the foundation announced in January that Google discontinued its prize sponsorship. 

This happened after the competition did not have a winner despite a number of extensions to the prize deadline. Even with Google no longer sponsoring a prize for the competition, the foundation still decided to restart it. 

According to X Prize Foundation, they decided to relaunch the competition hoping it will give an incentive to teams that are still currently developing landers.  Chanda Gonzales-Mowler of X Prize Foundation said they simply couldn’t give up on the space entrepreneurs building long-standing business models for lunar transportation. 

Gonzales-Mowler has confidence that soon these companies will make their way to the moon. Since Google is no longer in play, the foundation is looking for a new sponsor that would be responsible for several contingent prizes. 

However, they did not stipulate if the new sponsor they are looking for is the same size as Google’s sponsorship before. The spacecraft that would do the launch would likely have the sponsor’s name and brand incorporated as well as everything in the competition. 

The foundation’s announcement of the restart of Lunar X Prize Competition offered little details. Information about how this new competition would run remains unclear. In the original competition, a privately developed spacecraft needs to land on the moon. 

Along with that, they need to be able to travel a minimum of 500 meters through the moon’s surface and return to Earth with HD video, as well as other data.  Besides how the competition would be run, information on how a participant will be eligible to compete is unclear. 

Recently, there is renewed interest in space exploration with government space agencies and private companies racing beyond Earth’s orbit. This makes Lunar X Prize the perfect platform to have more launches higher than they used to before.