From 16 aspiring winners of the Google Lunar X Prize, 5 teams remain and are now moving to the next phase of the competition. The first-ever international contest to send the first private spacecraft to the surface of the Moon has announced its official participants!
The teams moving to the next round of the competition are Space IL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon, Team Indus, and Hakuto. These participants from all over the world were able to secure a verified launch contract before the end of 2016.
Israel-based team SpaceIL was the first to complete the requirements for the next round. In October 2015, they announced that their spacecraft, Sparrow, will ride to space by the second half of 2017. Moon Express from California was the next to secure a contract in December 2015. Their MX-1E lander, manufactured by aerospace startup Rocket Lab, is expected to launch sometime in early 2017.
Synergy Moon, an international team with members from 15 different countries, announced in August last year that their lunar lander and rover will launch on top of a Neptune 8 rocket.
On the other hand, India-based Indus and Japan's team Hakuto decided to merge. The teams will be riding a PSLV rocket to the moon this year.
The teams have to launch their missions to the moon by December 31st 2017. They also have to explore at least 500 meters of the lunar surface to win any of the competition prizes.
The first team that will complete all the tasks will receive the grand prize of $20 million, while the second team will receive $5 million. Other cash prizes will be given for pulling off special tasks, such as visiting an Apollo landing site.
“Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of the Google Lunar X Prize, said in a statement
According to Lunar X Prize, the competition's goal is to find possible cheaper ways of spaceflight. That’s why the teams have been restricted to privately fund their missions. Each group cannot get more than 10 percent of its funding from government sources.
The question now is, who's your bet?