TeamIndus has yet again made all the Indians proud as it has made it to the list of five finalists who will be competing in a $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition that requires them to land on the Moon and operate their unmanned robotic spacecrafts on the lunar surface.
The XPRIZE Foundation announced on Tuesday that five teams have been shortlisted for the competition. XPRIZE and Google also announced on Tuesday that a $1 million Diversity Prize will be distributed among 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE teams. Five teams have successfully verified launch contracts and are now moving forward to the final phase of the competition.
The foundation said that the contenders now require to launch their respective spacecraft until December 31. The competitors previously completed various activities on Moon, such as having their vehicles run 1,640 feet (500 meters) and broadcast HD video by the end of the year.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE contest was announced in 2007 following which 33 teams originally signed up to compete for the $20 million first prize.
Alphabet, Google's parent company, has also created a documentary series about the Lunar XPRIZE competition. Japan's Hakuto will be carried bt Indian PSLV launcher along with TeamIndus.
The original 2012 deadline for the Google Lunar XPrize has been extended three times. However, contest organisers say they will now abide by the current timeline, according to which the teams are required to launch on or before December 31.
“XPRIZE and Google have been awestruck by the educational outreach activities conducted by all of the competing teams and have decided to split the $1 million Diversity Prize across all 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director, Google Lunar XPRIZE.
“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.”
The following five teams have made it to the final phase of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition:
1. SpaceIL (Israel): SpaceIL is a non-profit organisation and it will be traveling on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The aim of SpaceIL is to make an educational impact and to create “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
2. Moon Express (USA): Moon Express has entered into a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for no less than three lunar missions by 2020. The goal is to open up the vast resources of the Moon for humanity. They also aim to establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond the orbit of the Earth.
3. Synergy Moon (International): Team member Interorbital Systems will be the launch provider and will use a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the Moon. Synergy Moon involves individuals from more than 15 countries. They aim at making manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
4. TeamIndus (India): TeamIndus entered into a commercial launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
5. HAKUTO (Japan): HAKUTO will share a ride with TeamIndus that will carry the four-wheeled rover to the Moon on board the PSLV. Hakuto aims at exploring holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in history. This could result in important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.
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.