With the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition both Google and XPRIZE seek to foster a new space economy of innovation and entrepreneurship through low-cost, efficient access to the Moon and use the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams’ moonshots to inspire and engage citizens around the world with science, technology, and innovation. In order to accomplish these goals the Google Lunar XPRIZE has put in place rules and guidelines that are summarized below.
The Mission Requirements for claiming the Grand or Second Place Prize include the following:
- Landing – A team must land its craft on the surface of the Moon after providing advance notice of its launch and intended landing site to XPRIZE.
- Mobility – After landing, a team must move its craft a distance of at least five hundred meters along the lunar surface along an interesting path in a deliberate manner. The distance can be a straight line or may be a series of waypoints approved by the Judging Panel.
- Mooncasts – A team must transmit two “Mooncasts” from the surface of the Moon. The first Mooncast would be after lunar arrival and the second would be at the completion of the mobility requirements. Each Mooncast must contain eight minutes of video in both high definition (720p) and near real time transmitted as high priority that can be in a lower resolution, a panoramic photograph to give a 360° view of the arrival or mission completion site, images showing a substantial portion of the craft and payload, and set of data provided by XPRIZE including a video and audio message, an email, and a text message. Prior to their launch the team must submit technical details of their mission for review by the Judging Panel.
- Data Uplink – A team must transmit to the craft as much as one hundred kilobytes of data provided by XPRIZE and then retransmit that data from their craft back to Earth.
- Payload – A team must carry a payload equal to 1% of the craft’s mass, but not more than 500 grams and not less than 100 grams. The payload will be provided by XPRIZE but the placement and design of the container will be mutually agreed upon via a payload placement plan provided by the team so that the payload provides minimal practical risk and interference with the mission.
- Private Funding – A team must not get government funding in excess of 10% of its total mission cost. This limitation includes the value of in-kind support or as well as any discounts they receive on the value of services or hardware. In instances when the government purchases or provides services to a team at fair market value, those contributions would not count against the 10% cap. To facilitate review of this requirement a team must submit financial statements to the Judging Panel.
- Launch Contract – Teams have until the end of 2016 to announce a verified launch contract to remain in the competition and complete their mission by the end of 2017.
The total purse for the prize is divided amongst several categories including the following:
- Grand Prize - $20 million awarded to the first team to complete all of the Mission Requirements
- Second Place Prize - $5 million awarded to the second team to complete the Mission Requirements.
No team may win the Second Place Prize with a substantially similar craft to the Grand Prize winner, however a team may win the Second Place Prize with a distinct Craft that accompanies the Grand Prize winning craft to the lunar surface.
The second place prize can also be awarded before the Grand Prize, at the discretion of the Judging Panel, if a team has met or exceeded the majority of the Mission Requirements, but has failed to fully complete all the Mission Requirements. If the Grand Prize is not claimed prior to the competition end date, the second place prize winner would receive an additional $5 million.
- Milestone Prizes – To date $5.25 Million in Milestone Prizes has already been awarded across five teams that demonstrated advanced progress in their mission preparations. Teams that won Milestone Prizes shall have those winnings deducted from any Grand or Second Place Prize awards that they win.
- Bonus Prizes – A purse of $4 million in Bonus Prizes is available for teams that successfully complete additional scientific and technical achievements in addition to the Mission Requirements. There are five bonus prizes ranging in value from $1 million to $ 4 million each. Once the purse’s $4 million limit is reached no other bonus prizes will be awarded.
- Apollo Heritage Bonus Prize - $4 million will be awarded to a team that can produce an Apollo Heritage Mooncast from the site of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, or 17. The Mooncast must include eight minutes of dynamic video in both high definition and lower resolution near real time video, a panoramic photo of the Apollo site, and an image showing a substantial portion of the craft from the Apollo site.
- Heritage Bonus Prize - $1 million will be awarded to a team that can produce a Heritage Mooncast from a site of interest on the lunar surface, approved by the Judging Panel. The Mooncast must include eight minutes of dynamic video in both high definition and lower resolution near real time video, a panoramic of the heritage site, and an image showing a substantial portion of the craft from the heritage site.
- Range Bonus Prize - $2 million will be awarded to a team that can move its vehicle along the surface of the Moon five kilometers. This five kilometer path is inclusive of the five hundred meters already traveled for the Mission Requirements.
- Survival Bonus Prize - $2 million will be awarded to a team that successfully operates its craft on two separate lunar days. In addition to the Mission Requirements on day one, on the second lunar day the team must transmit a set of data including a video, email and text message, deliver an additional 100 grams of payload to the lunar surface, and produce a survival Mooncast including a panoramic photo and an image showing a substantial portion of the craft.
- Water Detection Bonus Prize - $4 million will be awarded to a team that can provide scientifically conclusive proof of the presence of water on the Moon and published in a peer-reviewed paper to the satisfaction of the Judging Panel.
Registrations for new teams closed on December 31, 2010, however, changes in ownership of already competing teams are allowed. Competing teams have certain obligations they must fulfill to remain eligible including:
- Compliance with Laws and Regulations – Teams are responsible for complying with all applicable laws.
- Reporting – Teams shall provide an update to XPRIZE every three months on major team developments, sponsorships, and investments to date
- Access to Facilities and Information – Team shall provide physical and virtual access to Teams Facilities and Information to XPRIZE and the Judging Panel for the purposes relevant to the competition.
- Procurement of Launch and Launch Vehicle – Teams are responsible for securing their own launch arrangements. The team shall notify XPRIZE when they have signed a launch contract. At least one team must have verified launch arrangements by December 31, 2015 in order for the competition to continue past that date.
- Spacecraft Communication – Teams shall be responsible for all communication with their craft. The team shall provide XPRIZE and the Judging Panel access to passively monitor their communications. Teams are responsible for the delivery of their Mooncasts and other required data to XPRIZE.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE Judging Panel is comprised of highly qualified and impartial judges from around the world. The Judging Panel has at its sole discretion the ability to select any Prize recipients. The decisions of the Judging Panel are final, binding, and not subject to challenge. In addition to awarding the prizes the Judges have the following key responsibilities:
- Private Funding Review – The Judging Panel will review a team’s financial statements and determine if they are in compliance with the Private Funding requirements
- Payload Placement Review – The Judging Panel will approve a team’s payload placement
- Mobility Verification Review – The Judging Panel will approve a team’s mobility arrangements and plans for calculating desired waypoints and methodology for determining distance on the lunar surface
- Final Checkout and Launch– The Judging Panel will witness the final checkout of the team’s spacecraft prior to its launch, as well as observing the launch itself