Google’s Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition has an unprecedented tailored concept for challenging and inspiring entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators around the globe. The idea of the game is to develop relatively inexpensive methods of space exploration by robots. To bag the prize, the teams which are privately funded must be the first ones to:
- Place their respective spacecraft on the surface of the moon successfully
- It has to travel for a distance of 500 meters on the moon’s surface
- The spacecraft has to then transmit images and high-definition videos back to the Earth
A reward of 20 million dollars will be given to the team who will be able to complete the mission successfully. The team that stands second will be awarded 5 million dollars. There are also bonus prizes worth 5 million dollars. The two main important conditions of this contest are:
- All the participating teams have to prove that 90% of the cost incurred in the mission has sources of private funding.
- The launch of the spacecrafts has to be initiated by the end of this year (December 31, 2017). However, it is not mandatory to complete the mission by the given time.
From the 34 teams that originally started off, 5 teams have made it to the final round.
I) SpaceIL – Israel
The non-profit organisation is led by Eran Privman, the CEO, along with the co-founders Yariv Bash, Yonatan Winetraub and Kfir Damari. The team is building a smart and small spacecraft, the size being similar to that of a dishwasher. SpaceIL will be using the concept of ‘hopping’ instead of rolling across the surface of the moon.
II) Moon Express – United States
One of the teams that come with a confirmed launch contract for the lunar mission, Moon Express is a commercialized and privately funded space company. Founded by Bob Richards, its prime aim is to make the vast resources of the moon available for humanity.
III) Synergy Moon – International
This is an international team comprising of members from 15 different countries, Synergy Moon promotes international cooperation when it comes to space exploration or development. The team leader is Nebojša Stanojević. This team wishes to send a single or multiple rovers or a lander to the surface of the moon.
IV) Team Indus – India
An Indian team in the Lunar X Prize competition, Team Indus has been diligently building the spacecraft with private funds to make it capable for soft landing on the surface of the moon by 2017. The team comprises of Rahul Narayan, who is the team leader along with the members Sheelika Ravishankar, Dilip Chabria and Nirmal Suraj. The mission of the team is to celebrate all those aspects that make our country great; be it the bright and young engineers, highly efficient entrepreneurs or the partners who have always supported when it came to resources. The team has named their rover and spacecraft for the moon as ECA, which stands for ‘Ek Choti si Asha’, (meaning a small dream). The wheels on the spacecraft is exceptionally light weight that will help it in riding over the toughest lunar terrains.
V) Hakuto – Japan
Team Hakuto has an agreement with Team Indus for carrying their rover to the lunar surface on the lander of Team Indus. Team leader Takeshi Hakamada along with the other members is in the process of developing the smallest planetary rover for exploration.