Google Lunar XPrize: Lander testing with Moon Express at the Kennedy Space CenterMoon Express is taking a different approach to the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize. To see its prototype lunar lander in action, we visited the team at Cape Canaveral.
[MUSIC] Welcome to the historic Kennedy Space Center, where team moon express is testing a prototype version. Their lunar lander. It's all in pursuit of a $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE awarded to the first team to land on the moon, cover 500 meters, and send high definition video back to Earth all the while. Moon Express wants to be that team. We're doing our first pad test today so it's a very exciting day. The vehicles all integrated, we have propulsion that came from a propulsion development facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Our avionics and our design and our, our structures came from our headquarters in Mount [UNKNOWN] at [UNKNOWN]. And we have our facilities here at the shuttle landing facility at NASA Kennedy where we integrated the vehicle built and now we're testing it. It is a version of our lander that has same ability of flight. It's not 100% fidelity. Our idea is that we will gradually reduce risks with every increasingly complicated flight test articles. So this is our first one and we are doing this specifically reduce this risk and hopefully win some of the Google XPrize money. The point of the test is to show that a Lunar Lander can both take off and land again on the moon and that's important because Moon Express is taking a very different approach to that 500 meter window that I talked about. The teams have to move 500 meters either above, below or across the surface of the moon. How they do that is up to them and Moon Express has decided that rather than building a robot, they'll simply take off, move 500 meters and land again. Thus completing the mission objectives. Five, four, three, two, one, [INAUDIBLE]. [MUSIC] So we're flying a fuel tank. We're using modern structures, modern materials, and exponential technologies that have dematerialized a lot of the avionics down to the very, very small things. So we have a small vehicle. That, once it's in earth orbit, it can make it all the way to the surface of the moon by itself. My name is Eleanor Crane, here at Moon Express, I am a G&C/Flight Software Engineer. Writing software for an application that's gonna go so far away, I mean, it starts off as a little unreal until you start making more and more progress and realizing like. Oh man, we're gonna have to actually let this thing go at some point. Once we get close to the surface of the moon, we start wanting to use ground relative, moon relative measurements in order to figure out where the spacecraft is. So we'll start taking radar pings of the surface of the moon and then again start using imagery to do feature matching and determine the velocity of the spacecraft with respect to the surface. So we will be testing the dynamics of the vehicle. How the propulsion works and how the avionics works and controls the vehicle. And behind me is our mission control center where we're conducting those tests today. We're still waiting to hear back from the judges on whether or not Moon Express did complete their objectives, but it's another test in the bag, and a long way to go before they get to the moon, and hopefully go chasing after that $20 million X Prize. [LAUGH] Hey, everyone. Wanna do something good? I'm Tim Steven from Cnet covering the Google Lunar [UNKNOWN]. [MUSIC]