Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Mountain View, CA, United States (4E) – The Google Lunar XPRIZE, a competition that would have awarded a private company $20 million for being the first to land a rover on the Moon, will end March 31 without a winner.
The failure of the ambitious challenge launched on Sept. 13, 2007 comes after the five remaining teams confirmed their inability to launch on a rocket bound for the Moon before March 31 due to a variety of problems. Google has said it won’t extend the deadline.
The five finalists are SpaceIL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon, Team Hakuto and Team Indus. There were 32 teams that joined the challenge when registration closed on Dec. 31, 2010.
“Google does not have plans at this time to extend the deadline again; however, we are so thrilled with the progress made by these teams over the last ten years,” said Google in a statement.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE offers a total of $30 million in prizes to the first privately funded teams to land a robot on the Moon that successfully travels more than 500 meters, and transmits back high-definition images and video.
The first team to do so will claim the $20 million grand prize; while the second team to accomplish the same tasks will earn US$5 million. Teams can also earn additional money by completing additional tasks beyond the baseline requirements required to win the grand or second prize.
Among these additional tasks are traveling 10 times the baseline requirements (greater than 5,000 meters; capturing images of the remains of Apollo program hardware or other man-made objects on the Moon and surviving a lunar night. The competition also had a $1 million diversity award given to teams that make significant strides in promoting ethnic diversity in STEM fields.
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