Google Lunar X PRIZE brings the moon to the masses, announces ten new teams

At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy announced a bold and aggressive program designed to highlight American ingenuity and bravery. The “Space Race” led to the creation of new technologies that are still in use today, launched entirely new industries and motivated an entire nation to “dream big” and transform science fiction into science fact.

04/01/2008


At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy announced a bold and aggressive program designed to highlight American ingenuity and bravery. The “Space Race” led to the creation of new technologies that are still in use today, launched entirely new industries and motivated an entire nation to “dream big” and transform science fiction into science fact. Along the way, the space program also inspired legions of youth who translated their fascination into a vocation and continued to drive technological and process innovations as engineers.

By contrast, today’s youth are growing up in a much different world. Popular portable video game systems such as the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP pack more computing horsepower than most of the systems used in the early days of space exploration, and streaming real-time video of shuttle missions are only a mouse-click away. So when the amazing has become ordinary, how do you inspire students and spark their imagination? The answer: make them part of the experience.

To accomplish this task, Google and the X PRIZE foundation have teamed-up to create a competition which combines the inspirational aspects of the original race to the Moon with the familiar and powerful technologies of today.

The goal of the X PRIZE Foundation, according to the competition’s website, is “to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.” The Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, featuring a $30 million prize for the first team to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, enable that robot to travel 500 meters over the lunar surface and send images and data back to the Earth. The catch is that the teams must be at least 90% privately funded and, in order to collect the full $30 million, the mission must be completed by December 31, 2012. (The total available purse decreases with each subsequent year, with a final deadline for winning the prize set for December 31, 2014.

Unlike previous “moonshots” where public participation was limited to whatever the networks and newspapers decided to cover, the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition will take full advantage of the Internet by both requiring all participating teams to share their progress via the web and encouraging the general public to follow the progress of the teams and actually participate via blogs and discussion forums.

The organization recently announced Organizers of the Google Lunar X PRIZE recently announced the addition of ten new teams to the competition. Teams include Odyssey Moon, Astrobotic, Team Italia, Micro-Space, the Southern California Selene Group, LunaTrex, FredNet, ARCA, Quantum3, and Chandah. the addition of ten new teams to the competition. Teams include Odyssey Moon, Astrobotic, Team Italia, Micro-Space, the Southern California Selene Group, LunaTrex, FredNet, ARCA, Quantum3, and Chandah.

www.googlelunarxprize.org

www.nasa.gov





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