We're still many moons away from someone blasting off and putting in a proper bid for the $20 million grand prize on offer as part of the Google Lunar XPrize. There are 18 teams still in the running for the competition, and today five of them are receiving a nice bonus that will, hopefully, boost their chances for success.
These five milestone teams completed a series of tests in 2014, demonstrating their ability to successfully complete the three main criteria for the Google Lunar XPrize:
- Landing - Demonstrating that they can touch down successfully.
- Mobility - Demonstrating that they can cover the required 500 meters on (or above) the lunar surface.
- Imaging - Demonstrating that they can broadcast high-definition video back to Earth.
Each of the five milestone teams was deemed by XPrize judges to have completed at least one of those tests, for a combined $5.25 million in prizes. Here's how that breaks down.
Astrobotic -- USA -- $1.75 million
We've visited Team Astrobotic multiple times in 2014, first seeing their, then watching their at a Pittsburgh quarry. Those tests were deemed successful, and the team takes home a total of $1.75 million for completing all three categories of tests.
Hakuto -- Japan -- $500,000
We recently met with Team Hakuto on the beach outside of Hamamatsu, Japan, where its. That test was a success, and so the team takes home a $500,000 mobility award.
Indus -- India -- $1 million
Team Indus hails from New Delhi, India, and in late 2014 the team completed a demonstration of its landing systems. That successful test earns the team a $1 million prize.
Moon Express -- USA -- $1.25 million
Moon Express has some of the most aggressive goals of all the teams, including eventually setting up shop on the moon and mining it. That's some years away, but when we, they were showing good progress. The XPrize judges thought so, too, awarding the team a combined $1.25 million for successfully demonstrating its imaging and landing systems.
Part-Time Scientists -- Germany -- $750,000
Part-Time Scientists was the first team we visited, as itand high-quality imaging systems. The XPrize judges liked what they saw, awarding the team a combined $750,000 for both imaging and mobility.
Next stop? Why, the moon of course. Teams have until December 31, 2016, to complete the competition. But at least one of the teams must have announced a date for launch before the end of 2015. Otherwise, the competition will expire. The clock is ticking!