The Moon Is A Lofty Goal

The thing about space exploration is that it isn't cheap. That money has to come from somewhere. In the past, I've made it a point to compare donations to the cost of entertainment in an attempt to put perspective on the relatively low price we pay to attain such incredible tasks. Similarly, we set our PRIZE values in a way that we can leverage them to actually achieve these goals.

And so I present to you a challenge, a goal: $10,000. It's a pretty large goal, I know. But as with any X PRIZE, we set our goals high enough that they appear impossible, yet within the reach of a determined and ambitious team.

The money you donate to the Google Lunar X PRIZE is used to educate the public on the power of incentive prizes, the need for private space exploration, and the importance of lunar exploration in particular. The X PRIZE Foundation is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit, and all donations are tax deductible.

Help us to meet that goal! Donate using the form below, or click here for more donation options.

Jesse said...

The thing that bothers me about the X-prize is that all teams except for 1 of them seem to be spending a majority of their time on their rovers. This isn't necessarily a horrible thing, but it just seems like as a community teams are ignoring the elephant in the room - propulsion/getting to the moon.

Your neat little rover won't be effective floating out into deep space, or auguring into the moon regolith.

It's by far the most complex, difficult part of the challenge. If this were even remotely possible, the teams would have been testing rockets and engines for years now.

While I agree they need more money to do this, I'm alarmed that I don't see more from the team blogs and websites on engine testing or prototypes. If a team cannot get to the moon, why are they spending money on a rover? I haven't heard these questions asked.

mike fabio said...


You bring up a very good point. Indeed the hardest and most costly part of the mission is launch and transfer. Fortunately, I can tell you from speaking to the teams that they are hard at work on this problem.

Most of our teams have chosen to use outside launch providers, such as SpaceX. Only one team is currently focusing on building a launch vehicle (team ARCA, read their blog for more info). Since most of the process of procuring launch is just negotiation, this may explain why so little attention is being paid to that on the team blogs.

Stay tuned! This competition is really just getting started. I imagine we'll be hearing much more about transport issues in the very near future.

Jesse said...

I understand that most teams are going to use SpaceX Falcon 9 configurations if they can afford it.

So, let's say a team secures a Falcon 9. When will it be built? Did you know they already have 20 scheduled to be built from now until 2015 to satisfy their NASA COTS contract? Can they sneak in the construction of more rockets before their NASA contract?

Lets say they figure all that out. Who will be working on telemetry? Guidance? Communication? Does all that fall on SpaceX?

Which team has a lunar lander ready? Are they just going to purchase something from Armadillo- the only private company even close to demonstrated ability of a lander (and they aren't that close to what a full-moon mission rated lander would need to be)? Have they had integration tests with an Armadillo lander? Is Armadillo even offering contracts at this point for landers?

That hardly seems like a contest at this point. Buy a launcher, buy a lander. Roll out your rover.

I'll be as interested as everyone else when SpaceX can start demonstrating their range with a Falcon 9. We're sitting T-2.6 years till the first place deadline, and T-4.6 years till second place without any known hardware that can get to, or land on the moon.

Yikes. Godspeed Lunar Xprizers. :)

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