9/13/2010 09:06:00 AM
This is a guest post by Michael Doornbos, the first in a series.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE may seem like a simple tech competition.
Except that it's not.
GLXP is a human story. It's about ambition, overcoming disappointment, and hard work. It's about dreaming something big and then setting out to do it.
Think for a second about what it means to compete to send a private spacecraft to the moon and explore it's surface.
There is no sitting behind a desk and thinking things up while a parent agency pumps money into the project.
You need to be mean and lean. Flexible. You have to do every aspect yourself. Design a mission, get funding, and find a cheap launch vehicle- even though they don’t really exist- at least, not yet. Build your spacecraft. Get it tested to be launched. Launch it. And then execute your mission in an impossibly harsh environment a quarter million miles away.
You need to convince investors of your ability to accomplish a goal that governments have not bothered to do for over 30 years.
Oh, and don’t forget, it's a race. You've got 21 teams all running at full speed to beat you to it.
Humans have always been doing things that were unimaginable and yet, not only were they accomplished, but they became fairly ordinary a short time later.
If you look at the kind of people who would take on such a crazy endeavor, you'll find some of the heroes of our time.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is impossible. And that's why they do it.
Some will fail, but it sure will be a great adventure.
I'm telling their story through interviews and a book. You can get news snippets and technical information anywhere, but it's their story that's really compelling.
"As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. As I take these last steps from the surface for some time to come, I'd just like to record that America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. Godspeed the crew of Apollo Seventeen." -Eugene Cernan
The day that Gene spoke of is just a few blinks away. As people like Robert Boehme, William Whittaker, and Richard Speck look up at the moon, they see the possibilities and dream of making them reality. Not just for a few, but for all of us.