The US$ 30 million plus Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.
The purpose of the Google Lunar XPRIZE is to promote the implementation of breakthrough ideas that are innovative, unconventional and cost-effective. One aspect of this is that participants must obtain at least 90 percent of their project funds from sources other than governmental institutions. According to cost estimates by the Part-Time Scientists, launching a rocket to transport their rover, more than 380,000 kilometers distance to the moon, will cost around 24 million euros, including the necessary insurance policies.
The mission, which must be completed by December 31, 2017, will take approximately five days, according to the Part-Time Scientists. Their targeted landing zone is north of the moon’s equator, not far from the 1972 landing site of the Apollo 17, NASA’s last manned mission to the moon. This is a rather inhospitable zone – with temperatures fluctuating up to 300 degrees Celsius.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE is currently in its final round, with 16 teams remaining. Along with the Part-Time Scientists, who officially registered for the competition in June 2009, there are four other teams that won a total of US$5.25 million in Milestone Prizes, in recognition of technological progress: Astrobotics (United States), Moon Express (United States), Team Indus (India) and Hakuto (Japan).
After successful test demonstrations, the Part-Time Scientists – the only German team in the Google Lunar XPRIZE – received Milestone Prizes for development of their rover (“Mobility Prize”) and their optical systems and sensors (“Imaging Prize”). The team’s total winnings for these two Milestone Prizes was US$750,000.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.