Lunar Roundup: Upvotes All Around
FREDNET announced a mass Cubesat launch, while we took Reddit by storm and big media coverage.
By Nick Azer on March 12, 2013
Welcome to this week’s Lunar Roundup! A power rankings-style look at who & what’s been “Awesome!” over the past week in the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
One of the busiest weeks to date, as FREDNET announced a launch, we took Reddit by storm, and the media was all over a bunch of the teams. Lots of fun videos and articles, so without further ado, here's your moon-race highlights for March 5th-March 11th:
1) First Contact!
Team FREDNET announced they’ll be launching something called the 'Small Commercial Payload' in January of 2015!:
“The Small Commercial Payload, also known as the Small Cubesat Payload (SCP), will consist of 50-100 Cubesat units.”
Cubesats are 4x4x4 inch satellites that allow universities and others to have entry-level access to space for under $100,000 or so.
NASA render of a Cubesat.
This launch is unusual, in that it’s a huge fleet of them being released at once! So basically a large Borg-cube of minisats all going up together. Pretty epic!
“This launch by the Open Space Society is one of the first to provide a dedicated module for deploying a large constellation of Cubesats aboard a single spacecraft stage.”
There are several mentions of that new name---'The Open Space Society'---with this potentially informative description:
“Founded in 2007 as “Team FREDNET” by industry entrepreneur Fred Bourgeois, The Open Space Society evolved from an early Google Lunar X PRIZE competitor to a viable Space Access business by persistently pursuing innovative solutions. “
2) Upvotes for All!
The Google Lunar X PRIZE took Reddit (the ultra-popular ‘front page of the internet’) by storm! After a BBC article on Moon Express went completely viral and to the top of the front page, we launched into action with an AMA that also ended up on the front page.
- The initial thread, with two thousand comments from the public about the competition
- The AMA (Q+A) with Leo, and some of the teams, taking on loads of awesome questions
Some highlights of the Q+A:
- JURBAN revealed that their mission cost is going to be $24.7 million! (We now have at least three team budgets: JURBAN at $24 million, Stellar at ~$30 million, and SpaceIL at $30 million. So if you were wondering how much a Google Lunar X PRIZE mission costs, there you go!)
- Team Euroluna dived in to answer some questions.
- We answered a plethora of awesome inquiries.
In the aftermath of this Reddit wave of popularity, the Google Lunar X PRIZE also got Slashdotted. Nerd fame!
3) Rover Parade!
There were a ton of great rovers-in-action videos this week!
Team Italia’s D.I.A.N.A. tackled a gravity test:
Great rover action from White Label Space:
And Barcelona Moon showed off a cool rover test of their own:
4) Person to Person!
There were a multitude of great interviews this week, too!
On the shorter side, Red Whittaker of Astrobotic gave TechCrunch a tour:
And student Nick Gorgone of JURBAN gave an awesome look at the science + challenges of their mission:
And on the longer side, two different teams sat down for hour+ chats with The Space Show!
- Synergy Moon’s launch provider, Interorbital Systems, talked for an hour and a half about their rockets, tests, methods, and more!
- SpaceIL spent an hour covering everything about the team!
Awesome technical information to be had about how both teams will be going about their missions!
5) Big Media!
And not to be left out, major media were all over the competition:
- SpaceIL was featured by Time Magazine, who confirmed their budget ($30 million) and gave a bunch of great quotes!
- BBC covered Moon Express in two different articles (about the competition with a video and about mining the moon).
- The Google Lunar X PRIZE is looking for judges! Do you want to be a part of history, and help fairly assess which teams are winning the competition? Then sign up for one of these part-time roles (which include some pretty cool travel opportunities as part of the duties).
- Omega Envoy is now giving weekly tours of their facilities!
- Stellar posted an awesome look at gyroscopes and navigation.
- The founders of SpaceIL gave a moving talk about what inspires them and the rest of Israeli aerospace.
- Team FREDNET posted a video of getting their hands on a gyroscope at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
- At the end of this video, White Label Space's rover goes completely rave-style! Epic.
- A JURBAN team member talked about their role with mission control.
I’ll be rounding these up on a weekly basis, so keep an eye here for all the most awesome developments.
And if you have any favorite stories that I didn’t post here...share ’em in the comments below!