We see it almost every night. We look up at it so often, in fact, that many of us don’t even notice it any more, yet it was the focus of one of the most amazing ventures of the 20th century.
As of now, the Moon has only been reached by craft under the control of government agencies, and the folks at the X-Prize Foundation seem to think that needs to change. And they’re right.
In 2007, sponsored by Google, they announced the inception of the Google Lunar X-Prize, a competition for private space firms to:
1. Land a robot safely on the Moon,
2. Have the robot travel 500 meters (1,640 ft.) across the surface, and
3. Transmit HD pictures and video back to Earth.
$30,000,000 has been allocated to winners of the competition, with $20,000,000 going to the first firm to accomplish the goal and $5,000,000 going to the 2nd team to do so. The remaining $5,000,000 is reserved for the achievement of other tasks, such as capturing images of Apollo mission landing sites or capturing video from the dark side.
Competing teams also have a deadline of December 31st, 2015 to complete the necessary steps. Originally there were 34 companies developing craft to make the attempt, though 8 have now withdrawn, leaving 26 firms from various nations still in the running.
With some of the teams having already completed successful test flights, the prize grows closer and closer to being claimed with each passing day.
Remember that, this being the first such attempt, there will be more to come.
Where will you fit in to that vision?
For more information, be sure to visit www.xprize.org and www.googlelunarxprize.org