Whether or not a team will actually make it to the Moon and complete Google’s requirements, Google is dead serious about fueling the next step towards the Lunar age. Willing-to-pay-$30-million-to-whoever-does-it serious. Just think: a company that started off as a search engine is organizing humanity’s next step toward a commercial space future.
The Lunar XPRIZE competition is awarding firms to send robots to broadcast from the moon, among other things. Firms can also win some bonus prizes for checking out artifacts from previous lunar missions (like the lunar landers), surviving the lunar night, and generally poking around the Moon a bit more.
The folks at Google and XPRIZE are looking to learn about the potential fuels on the Moon (to power future missions), how structures decay after long periods in the lunar environment, if and how to build a lunar spaceport, among other things. We know that commercial investment is likely the best way to fund humanity’s extraterrestrial exploration.
A great part of the XPRIZE competitions is that many of these teams are specializing in different goals. Since there’s a myriad of extra prizes together, teams can choose which ones to shoot for. This means there’s a broad spectrum of research and work being done, widening our field of findings and conclusions. We look to learn a ton from the Lunar XPRIZE teams.
Google are no chumps. They’re well aware of just how much commercial potential the Moon holds. Their strategy is quite brilliant. They’re fueling the minds that are capable of getting to the Moon and setting themselves up to be one of the first entities in a viable Lunar economy. Competitors have about 2 years to complete all of Google’s requirements and claim their prizes. If no team figures it out by the end of 2015, the Google prize vanishes into thin air, really thin air…get it?
But seriously, even if a team doesn’t complete the XPRIZE in entirety, all of them are pushing closer to regular Lunar commercial flights. Many won’t win the prize, but there will be a handful that are prepared to fly with the proper funding in the future. Keep an eye on these teams, for they’ll all be doing big things.