Moon Express, which recently made it to the list of top five finalists of Google Lunar Xprize competition, has received another USD 20 million for landing its rover on the lunar surface.
Moon Express will be the first spacecraft from the US to land on Moon after 1972. Naveen Jain, the co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, said in a media interview that the team has got a fresh funding of $20 million.
He said that Moon Express now in total has raised $45 million from all the investors. Moon Express has not finalised the date of launching yet, however, it looks forward to launch the spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida in November or December.
Naveen also said that the team has managed to implement state of the art technology which allowed the team to prepare for the moon mission with a budget of $7 million, which usually costs $200 million. Google Lunar Prize aim is to send ‘low cost’ unmanned space mission.
Moon Express will launch its spacecraft, the MX-1E, under the guidance of Rocket Lab of USA. After the launch, the MX-1E will get detached from the spacecraft and will go on a four-day journey towards the moon.
The spacecraft will also carry several scientific and commercial payloads along. Rocket Lab will provide five rockets for each unmanned mission that will be organised by Moon Express.
The first team that will successfully complete the mission will be awarded Google Lunar Prize of $20 million. Also, a bonus $5 million will be given away for completing additional tasks on the surface of the Moon but that would be optional.
The five teams that have been shortlisted for the Google XPrize competition are – Moon Express, Israel’s SpaceIL, Synergy Moon, India’s TeamIndus, and Japan’s Hakuto.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the lunar probes of all the five teams.
The teams will be required to carry out some specific activities on the lunar surface including making their spacecraft take a trip of the Moon around1,640 feet (500 meters) and transmit high-definition video, by the end of the year.
33 teams had applied for the contest, out of which only five have made it to the final round and are competing for Google Lunar XPrize.
What is Google Lunar XPRIZE?
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.
In order to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team is required to successfully place a rover on the surface of the moon. The rover should explore at least 500 meters and should be able to transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.
XPRIZE designs and implements innovative competition models in order to solve the grandest challenges in the world. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder
XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE.