Moon Race Roundup: The Race On The Moon
The race to the Moon will now have a race *on* the Moon! Plus: launch news & sports-drink capsules.
By Nick Azer on May 21, 2014
This week, on the road to the Moon...
The race to the Moon has become a race on the Moon---as several teams will be landing at the same time, then racing their robots from a given starting point!:
"We have agreements with other teams where we will land on the surface, deploy all the rovers and then at one point we’ll raise the green flag and everyone will drive 500 meters as fast as they can. Whoever wins, wins the glory of the prize." -John Thornton, President, team Astrobotic .
Epic! Thrilling news, as this means we'll be getting a live race from the Moon in HDTV! Stay tuned for more details about which teams, and when.
Meanwhile, other teams have been stirring with plans of their own...
Bob Richards, CEO of team Moon Express , was named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company, and in the process of that, some interesting new details were dropped about their launch plans:
"...The MX-1 spacecraft weighs 1,300 pounds fully loaded, fits in the back of a pickup truck, looks like a metallic inner tube, and, in 2015, is going to the moon, "hitchhiking" alongside a satellite headed into orbit." -Fast Company. [Above: The MX-1, signed by Buzz Aldrin.]
Team President Andy Aldrin (yes, son of Buzz!) was also talking about the 'hitchhiking' plans, during a reddit AMA on 3D printing:
"The most obvious difference from [Team Astrobotic] is that we fly as a secondary payload, so our launch costs are an order of magnitude lower." - Andy Aldrin
An interesting development. The ante is on! (Aldrin also talked about their team's plan for their next few missions to the Moon, including sample return.)
Moon Express isn't the only team looking at a secondary payload plan, as Penn State Lunar Lion teamed up with former Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors Phoenicia last year to set themselves up with a similar launch plan---as featured by Fast Company this week. (Fast Company seems to be catching onto the Moon, quick!)
And speaking of the Lunar Lion, they shared a cool tech video of their progress, including 3D printing, quadcopters, rockets, and hockey sticks:
Another cool video---and big development---came from Astrobotic 's customer, Pocari Sweat!
Pocari Sweat is a sports drink that's massively popular across Asia, and they've lined up with Astrobotic to put a 'can' of their drink on the Moon (containing the drink in powdered form, and a 'golden record' of sorts with messages from children around the world). The video there goes over the process to make their time capsule, which is harder than you'd think (with the whole 'space' thing involved! This can's gotta last 30 years until someone unlocks it, passing the baton of Moon exploration eras---see if those kids' dreams on the message plate came true!).
A sports drink advertising in space might seem kind of bizarre, but it worked out pretty nicely for another major sports drink...:
The Red Bull Stratos Jump---a massive success. [Red Bull image.]
Big adventures require big movitations, and without a governmental cold war like during the Apollo era (or the riches of the Indies for Columbus, or the allure of a Northwest Passage---and getting there first---for Jefferson, Lewis, and Clark), sponsorship may be helping to pave the road for an interplanetary species.
Doesn't mean there can't be inspiration, wonder, and progress along the way, though---as SpaceIL is looking to show with their nonprofit venture to the Moon:
While they've raised some great money so far (including $16.4 million from the 9th-richest man in the world), they're not holding back---and they want to get you (and your message) personally involved! Shoot for the Moon, and you might just get there...check out their IndieGoGo for details on how they're involving the public!
I'll be rounding these up every week---as the teams march forward towards history----so keep an eye here for the latest developments from your moon race!
For the full skinny on *everything* that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos. You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get cool PRIZE news in your inbox!
~Nick Azer, resident history nerd/blogger dude/Moon advocate extraordinaire
[May 14th-May 20th, 2014.]